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 Charityfolks.com, 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.