Ditch Your Unpaid Summer Internship

Advice from Ross Perlin, the author of Intern Nation

There’s good reason why traditional summer jobs like lifeguarding, scooping ice cream, and being a camp counselor have a nice, nostalgic sound to them—they have real value.

All kinds of businesses, from theme parks to rental car companies to restaurants to fish canneries, are at their busiest during the summer and need extra help. You might be surprised by how much you can learn from these “menial” jobs: being outside (in many cases), having real responsibilities squarely on your shoulders, working with cool people from all sorts of different backgrounds, and not least, earning money and (hopefully) being financially independent. If potential employers in your future don’t see the value in that—and a lot of them will—they might not be people you want to work for, anyway. There’s no question there are industries that basically require internships these days: media, politics, film, and fashion, to name just a few. And short of a full-scale boycott of unpaid internships, you may feel that the pragmatic thing is simply to suck it up—but doesn’t that just reflect how deep the problem goes?

Of course, some internships, like the Dish's, are paid.