NAOMI'S NOTES | UNPAID INTERNSHIPS AND THE MILLENNIAL GENERATION

This is in response to the New York Times article, “For Interns, All Work and No Payoff,” by Alex William. My take is that Alex wrote a rather dismal and misleading article, though I’m glad I read it! But now I have to take a moment to dispute it.

The author, suggests all millennial are feeling trapped in unpaid internships. But the actual number of millennial who have taken more than two unpaid internships is a very small percentage. Only 6% have taken more than 4 internships.

What I think is more relevant which the author doesn’t even mention is that amongst those 6%, 77% are female college educated and from wealthy families.

What bothers me, is that despite all the inroads in creating more opportunities for women, in 2013, the United States is still a society where the average woman earns 80 cents to the average man’s dollar (source). The disproportionate rate of unpaid internships for women vs. men, and wealthy from poor, is pushing us even further from the equal society that most of us desire. This, in my opinion, is partly related to the lack of funding and proper curriculum in math and science for women, who have different learning requirements, but it is also based on some companies not playing by the rules and taking advantage of a US labor department that has not been properly funded or managed during the past decade.

Fortunately, many students and student advocates are fighting back. “In the not-too-distant future, all internships at for-profit companies in the US will be paid at least minimum wage.” Over the past four years there has been a rising tide of awareness and even outrage about unpaid internships and the impact on both the economy and on the students struggling to support themselves. High profile lawsuits against Fox Searchlight Pictures and Hearst by brave former interns have helped shine the spotlight on the increasingly probable PR and financial nightmare of running unpaid internship programs.”

Thanks to a combined effort on the part of students, economists, the US department of labor and the legal community we will continue to see a decline in unpaid internships. According to Attorney Justin M. Swartz, a partner at Outten & Golden LLP, the firm behind the class action suits against Hearst, Fox Searchlight, and Charlie Rose, doesn’t mince words. “Virtually all of the unpaid internships I’ve ever heard about are illegal,” he says. He cites the Labor Department’s limited resources as the reason for the lack of significant regulatory action against employers who use interns in ways that violate the law. Catherine Ruckelshaus, legal co-director at the National Employment Law Project, echoes that. “If it’s a private sector employer, they’re pretty much all illegal.”

Now back to the article, ‘the author, had a good reason to want to write about the struggles millennial face in the work force, but writing the fact that unemployment dropped to 6.6% last month while the 20-24 yr. old’s jobless rate was at 8% doesn’t explain anything. The author also notes, you can compare the 20-24 yr. Old’s jobless rate which was 8% in 2013 vs. at 5.1% in 2007 – but again this misses the point The fact is that “In both recessions and expansions the unemployment rate of entry level college grads is historically, double the national average which means our kids generation is not really doing poorly, despite the unpaid internship programs being a problem.

When the author talks about the millennial being part of the “permanent intern underclass” , or when he calls them the “rudderless community”. He paints too bleak a picture which in my mind is also a gross misrepresentation. Although the millennial entry into careers and first jobs has been badly set back by the Great Recession, the generation in repeated studies are not only rated more upbeat and optimistic than their elders about their own economic futures as well as about the overall state of the nation they are on course to become the most educated generation in American history, who will produce the most entrepreneurs. This trend driven largely by the demands of a modern knowledge-based economy, will continue to spur growth and has also accelerated in recent years the millions of 20-somethings enrolling in graduate schools, colleges or community colleges in part because they can’t find a job.

The potential that young people have — not in spite of but because of economic stagnation will end up working in everyone’s favor.

According to Javelin Strategy and Research, Gen Y income will exceed that of Baby Boomers by 2015. By 2020, its income is projected to exceed that of both Baby Boomers and Gen X. That’s just seven years away. By 2025, Gen Y’s combined income is expected to account for 46 percent of the nation’s income. Gen Y consumer spending is expected to grow to $1.4 trillion annually and represent 30 percent of total retail sales by 2020. So, while Gen Y might not have assets or a lot of spending power today, it will. ………. Change society for the better.

believe there are strong indications that the millennial will outperform all previous generations in terms of job creation and spur more economic growth at a more rapid pace than the last two previous generations combined. It is true that the current economic recovery is slower, but I believe we will look back on the recession and see how much it actually helped motivate the millennial generation to evolve as independent innovators and problem solvers who can work across cultural barriers to change the world in ways we haven’t even yet, dreamed of.

Lastly while unpaid internships lead to bad economics, discrimination and law suits, paid internships have proven to be a valuable opportunity for college students to prepare them for the fierce competition that awaits them in the real world.

Also, the author failed to fully distinguish the difference between unpaid and paid internships. The paid Internship programs have proven highly successful for corporations and students partly because they are able to convert a higher percentage of interns to hire than non-interns.

86% of interns surveyed in 2012 said they had a positive internship experience. 41% of unpaid interns also got job offer vs. 63% of paid interns.

And 70% of paid and unpaid interns are more likely to get hired than those who have not interned.

81% of employers find they have better experiences with new hires that have intern experience.

The average wage rate for interns at bachelor’s level is $16.21 For interns at the master’s degree level, the average hourly wage rate is $21.90, down just 0.1 percent from $21.93 reported last year.

More interesting facts about the Millennial, they are learning to live with less than previous generations, aside from student loans, Gen Y typically doesn’t like to borrow. Perhaps the desire to stretch their dollars and avoid debt fuels Millennial’s love for deals. They are coupon clippers and thrift store shoppers. - They are more ethnically and racially diverse than older adults, and more tolerant of differences. They’re also less religious, less likely to have served in the military and have better relationships with their parents than previous generations. I am proud to have kids that are part of this generation!!!

I envision great opportunity ahead for those who know how to compete in today’s economy. The rudderless community referred to in the article, do need our help, but there problem is not a result of the recession. At least not in my opinion. Unfortunately, college career centers do not keep track of students after they graduate and students living on their own or with their parents, are not seeking out professional help as much as they should. Obviously money factors in, but parents who have kids living at home should foot the bill to get their kids on track. Either a Career Coach or a therapist or both can provide a great deal of support to help get those rudderless students back on course.

Ultimately I envision the Millennial will become THE most successful generation the world has ever known. And will leave the world better than they found it.

I just hope as a person from the baby boomer generation, I get to watch all of their accomplishmentsunfold.

#naomi #intern

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