Buying Your Way Into an Internship

Hard times often spur innovation.  Unfortunately, one innovation – the sale of internships—is a very bad idea.   Internships are being auctioned off by online charity auction house, and some parents are offering to pay companies for “hiring” their children as a way for them to gain experience and a foothold for future employment.  

After watching his daughter’s 3-month job search, one father told me last year that he was attempting to arrange an internship without her knowledge.  He was planning to reimburse a company for her $10 an hour salary.  Fortunately, the bright young woman landed a job on her own–at $15 an hour.  This is worse than helicopter parents who contact prospective employers on behalf of their children. 

While nonprofit organizations justifiably are clamoring for funds in this tight economy, I would seriously question the quality of candidates who have to buy their way into some of the internships on auction sites.  Hopefully, the ingenuity of these efforts will spur creative ideas that look less like eBay or a meat market.

This phenomenon will surely spread after Sue Shellenbarger’s fascinating column in the Wall Street Journal.  Ideally, the Journal story will spur other–better–ideas for individuals who are truly talented and deserve internships that they don’t have to buy.

2 thoughts on “Buying Your Way Into an Internship

  1. As a senior, I’ve encountered my fair share of buy-me internships. That article was fascinating…I’ve come across University of Dreams myself a few times. It’s unfortunate that companies like those even exist, in my personal opinion. I believe in hard work and hope that it alone pays off for me someday – it goes against my own personal code of ethics to pay anyone to hire me. They have a name for those, you know…

    Again, another great post. Thanks!

  2. Wow! As a Humber College post-graduate PR student looking for an internship, I am disappointed by this information. I am even shocked, that in a day where transparency is so valued and encouraged, that this can exist without damaging the credibility of companies who would hire in this way.
    Aside from the questions on ethics that arise on this matter, I think that it is unfortunate that parents are depriving their children from gaining skills and experience that would serve as assets in their professional careers. Particularly in industries like public relations, networking and building professional relationships are skills that should be practiced and developed, not handed over on a silver platter.
    I certainly hope that in my own search for an internship I am not disadvantaged because of “helicopter parents” or “charity” donations. If a candidate were to be hired over me, I hope it is because they provide an outstanding resume, convey themselves as a driven and innovative young professional, and have the skills to back up their game…. all better than I do.

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