Exploited and Unheard: Why Campus Recruiters Need to Rethink Internships

    Unpaid internships have long sparked debate regarding their fairness and value, especially when they become a financial burden on students. A candid Reddit post by a student who landed an unpaid internship only after exhaustive efforts paints a stark picture of the emotional and financial toll these positions can take.

    The Student's Dilemma

    After applying to over 150 internships without success, one student finally secured a position through a career fair. The initial excitement soon turned to frustration upon learning that their university required a $500 fee for a zero-credit course necessary for work authorization. This revelation has led to feelings of unfairness, considering the lack of compensation.

    After applying to almost 150+ internships and not hearing back from any, i secured an unpaid internship through career fair. initially i was really happy that i’m gonna get some exposure and network, but now, my university wants me to pay 500 dollars in order to enroll for zero credit course which is needed for my CPT authorization. idk but it feels kinda unfair especially when i’m not even paid bare minimum. what do you all suggest?

    u/Tall_Energy_6630 asked the r/internships community "are unpaid internships worth it?" and received numerous replies ranging from "it depends..." to users questioning the legality of the job offer, with many chiming in just to say no!

    It depends on what you’re trying to get out of an internship. If you are looking to get paid, no. If you’re looking to boost your resume for a specific industry or field, then perhaps yes even if it’s unpaid. Your financial situation also matters. If you’re already struggling to pay your bills, maybe you can’t afford to do an unpaid internship. I rather you go work at Starbucks or something. If you don’t have money problems, I don’t see why you can’t take on the internship just for the experience. Obviously a paid one is better but sometimes, we don’t have that luxury!

    it depends on a lot of factors but generally I’d say no, your labor is valuable

    First. I will say that it depends on your level. Are you an undergraduate or a graduate student ? If you are an undergraduate, go for it ! Second, is the unpaid internship a big company that will also look good on your resume? If yes, go for it. You will gain the experience and the network and if you are a good intern they can always offer you a fulltime offer. If it’s not a big company, it still good to gain some type of experience. Either wey, as an international student, you dont have anything to loose ! But yoy might have to do two jobs (one on campus and the internship )

    Users like u/tyleroar pointed out that there are both compelling reasons to take and to decline an unpaid internship, and ultimately it comes down to a student's current financial situation. 


    20 years ago maybe

    No. If nobody worked for free, these unpaid internships would simply disappear. They are never ever worth it. They could at least pay you minimum wage

     Seeing way too many "depends" here...  Stop making unpaid anything a thing. If you work, you should get paid!


    Though unpaid internships aren't technically illegal as u/redit9977 declares, for the most part the Department of Labor suggests that interns are employees if they do work that is primarily for the company’s benefit, rather than for their own educational benefit. Which calls in to question what is the value of an unpaid internship to an employer?

    For campus recruiters, the benefits of attracting, engaging, and assessing early-career talent make internships attractive, but hiring managers may fail to see the benefits of working directly with students when their output is not contributing to the bottomline.

    Rethinking Unpaid Internships

    The growing discontent among students over unpaid internships calls for a reassessment by campus recruiters. By understanding and addressing these concerns, recruiters can better align their programs with the needs and expectations of their future interns, potentially leading to more beneficial and equitable arrangements.

    Recruiters are urged to consider the financial implications and career value of the internships they offer. Students are more than just temporary labor; they are future professionals who deserve respect and fair treatment.


    Parker Dewey can help you reach a broader, more diverse group of candidates while ensuring fair compensation and valuable experiences. Contact us to discover the benefits of Micro-Internships for your organization.