Interns, the New “Unemployed”

I have a series of buttons on the bookmarks toolbar of my browser: facebook, my bank’s website, wordmonkey (in case I want to know how to translate the works of Shakespeare or my grocery list into any of 45 languages like Catalan or Czech), the local 10-day weather forecast, etc. Included in these buttons are links to the human resources pages for a few places I’d like to work — a music education publishing company, the local symphony, etc.

I’ve noticed recently that the list of open positions at the local symphony seems to be getting longer and longer. . .but they’re all for interns, unpaid. Right now they have posted internships for:  Marketing Internship, Education Internship, Development Events Internship, Volunteer Coordination Internship, and Fund Development Internship. All this for a mid-size symphony in a mid-size midwestern city.

Okay, I guess it’s possible that I’m cynical, or paranoid, or both. First, remember the very important adage: just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean the world isn’t out to get you. In any case, does it strike any of you as a bit suspicious? It seems to me that what this company has is two full-time administrative positions that they can’t afford, or aren’t willing, to pay for. So instead they post 5, 20-hour/week positions which they hope to fill with energetic, intelligent, ambitious, capable young people who don’t need to earn any money for trivial things like college tuition or living expenses.

I’ve been watching this unfold over the last several months; now the New York Times writes about it as a national trend, and I fear its impact not only on the energetic, intelligent, ambitious, capable young people who DO need to earn money in the summer but also on the not-so-young, energetic, intelligent, ambitious, capable, experienced people who have much to offer businesses of both the profit and non-profit persuasions.

Let’s all just hope this isn’t one of those grave mistakes we all regret later.

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