Obsessed with making themselves appear more appealing to colleges, students often sacrifice their labor and health just to say that they took up an internship. However, such jobs are not worth the emotional, mental, and sometimes physical toll it has on its young workers. Paid internships, however, help cushion the labor and intensity many internships require.
Unpaid internships divert students’ focus from school and are no more than an excuse to exploit underaged workers while not spending a dime on them . Students who take up internships lose precious time that could be used to focus on actual schoolwork. Most positions are filled by juniors, who generally have the heaviest workload of all four grades. Having to take challenging courses, study for the SAT, and research colleges is already difficult to handle by itself. While one student is studying and improving their test grades, the student intern is toiling over their “job” and shows poorer performance at both school and work. Internships place unnecessary burdens on students that damage their academic statistics instead of advancing their studies.
The Fair Labor Standard Act, passed in 1938, says that unpaid internships are legal so long as the intern is the “primary beneficiary,” but that is hardly the case in high school environments. Internships are viewed in a positive light because college or graduate interns are advancing their research. On the other hand, a high school student will likely do nothing but file and do busywork for their bosses, benefiting the employer rather than the intern. Since students are learning close to nothing while interning, most underage internships should be illegal.
Internships are too time-consuming for students, considering most students are in clubs and extracurriculars that are equally, if not more demanding. Interns are pulled away from both their classwork and club activities. This makes students seem uncommitted and too busy for clubs, which harms their chances of being elected for leadership positions.
Although interns think that their positions will help them mature and progress into the real world, the same opportunities are available at school. Clubs and classes such as leadership present similar experiences and have more meaningful activity. The students in such clubs go to high-stake competitions and learn to work with lifelike situations. Internships, on the other hand, function no differently from a class that just assigns loads of homework every day.