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The War on Internships

2 min read

The War on Internships

Since at least the 12th century until very recently, entry into a profession has come via an apprenticeship, or, in the American terminology, a formal internship. A young person comes to work with people experienced in a trade, usually in exchange for office space, housing, tools to use, but little or no monetary compensation. Everyone wins: the employer gets to scope out a potential hire, and the intern gains priceless experience and a later job offer, new contacts, or a letter of recommendation.

What is the alternative? It is the completely la-la-land view, emerging sometime after World War II, that a student can sit at a desk listening for 16 to 20 years and thereby be prepared to call down immediately a substantial salary from a firm by virtue of the great value he or she provides.

This assumption is preposterous, but it is one around which the state-controlled system is structured. It is unviable for employers and highly misleading for students. Employers often report the silly scene of new graduates who waltz into businesses and demand a large salary with nothing but a certification from an artificial environment, sans work ethic or real-world skills.

It would be one thing if an employer could forgo housing and other benefits and just pay a really low salary to first-time employees. But that is not the case today. The state and its heavy hand have seriously restricted the right of employers to negotiate salaries. The government provides a canned model of employment