Internships have been in the spotlight a lot lately, but for all the wrong reasons: unhappy interns.
It's not a new story—interns have long gone unpaid, unthanked, and sent on one too many coffee runs. But a recent slew of class action suits raises the question: where does opportunity end and exploitation begin?
Though it's up to the courts to decide what's fair labor in the realm of interning, you should know that not all unpaid gigs are equal. It's hard to judge from the outset, but many companies really do justify their interning programs with excellent training and networking opportunities, great perks, and real world experience.
But don't ask us—ask other interns! Vault's newly released 2012 Top Internships rankings can help you cut through ambiguity and hear from real interns which gigs are worth your while: the ones with more responsibility, learning, and freebies (comp'd lunch and transit stipends, anyone)?
Meanwhile, you shouldn't give up on internships! If you can find a fair shake, there's a lot to be gained from learning the ropes before entering the "real" work world. Here are our top four benefits:
1. They'll beef up your resume to land a paid position
Internships are definitely the new normal. Love it or hate it, unpaid or low wage gigs have replaced entry level jobs as career starters. In fact, many say they are the new entry level jobs, which have quickly become more scarce and requiring more experience, thanks to a tough economy.
But the good news is, through interning, acquiring the experience necessary for a full time role has never been more accessible. Instead of milling your yearbook for applicable skills for your dream job (Model UN, anyone?) you can simply ask your boss to help on a new project. BAM: a (demonstrated!) new proficiency for your resume. And something tells me your boss won't mind a bit.
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