by Elizabeth Jacobs
While the Supreme Court decides on the constitutionality of unpaid internships, Whitworth students must compete for these valuable real-world experiences— even if the value cannot be measured in dollars.
Chase Plischke, senior marketing major, currently interns for an online media marketing business in Spokane. Due to new laws, the work he can do for his unpaid internship is limited, and the work he does for his internship is carefully monitored and not used by the company, he said.
What he does is called “mock work,” Plischke said.
“I can run an ad campaign, but it’s not a real one. It can’t actually benefit them,” Plischke said.
An internship program should be structured like a classroom, not a job, according to the Department of Labor. The Department’s guidelines regarding internships note the experience should be an extension of school for the student if the student is not compensated.
Sam Mean, senior accounting major, has never had an internship he wasn’t paid to do.
“There is zero difference between paid and unpaid internships on your resumé,” Mean said.
Sixty-three percent of paid internships received at least one job offer, and 37 percent of unpaid internships led to a job offer last year, according to the National Association of College Employers.
Kaily Loofbourrow, senior marketing major and internship assistant for Whitworth Career Services, has completed five internships. She completed her first internship during her sophomore year.
“I would recommend an internship to any student,” she said.
Internships are for students who seek experiences in the real world, and there are generally opportunities for most majors, Loofbourrow said. There are many internship opportunities in the Spokane area for Whitworth students, she said.
“The benefit of hiring a Whitworth student is that they are generally ethically sound,” Loofbourrow said. “Local employers trust Whitworth students.”
Mean said he has noticed that since Whitworth is smaller, students have to seek internships more proactively, as other colleges in the area may have more internship opportunities. The internship market is extremely competitive, especially for compensated internships, he said.
“Have your resumé, know how to interview well, be prepared, put in the work, and you should be applying to as many internships as you can because you never know which one will open up for you,” Mean said.
Since internships can be hard to come by, students should make contacts and pursue all possible leads, he said.
“I go to every internship fair I can, even if I’m not interested. It’s just so that I can network,” Plischke said.
Experiencing real world work in his area of study was vital to enriching his education at Whitworth, Mean said.
“You don’t know what your major is until you experience it in real life,” he said.
Even if federal regulations make it difficult for the company to put the intern’s work to use, it is still beneficial for the intern, Plischke said.
“It would be awesome to get paid, and get credit for it, but I don’t mind not getting paid,” Plischke said.
Contact Elizabeth Jacobs at firstname.lastname@example.org