Paid internships benefit students

Daily Editorial Board

A $374,000 grant announced earlier this month will help create 170 paid internships for University of Minnesota undergraduates over the next two years. The internship support targets students studying design, continuing education, and food, agricultural and natural resource sciences.
 
 
Nearly 40 percent of students in those programs at the University complete unpaid internships, particularly in nonprofit or government sectors, according to Sara Newberg, a director of career and internship services.
 
 
For most University enrollees, unpaid internships — while relevant to their professional futures — are incompatible with their financial reality.  One in six University students worries about running out of food before they can afford their next trip to the store, according to a 2015 Boynton Health Service survey.
 
 
They also face student loan debt — about $27,578 on average — by the time they graduate college. The University calculates that figure means recent grads will need an annual salary of at least $55,156 in order to afford repayment and cover living expenses.
 
 
Uncompensated learning experiences like unpaid internships are a luxury few can afford. 
 
 
We understand that internships are not supposed to provide sustainable income; they’re meant to offer professional experience, career exploration and networking with potential employers. 
 
 
But college students are likely to pass up such opportunities if they only serve to exacerbate existing financial stress.
 
 
We applaud the University and other donors for levelling the playing field with continued efforts to compensate students as they prepare, outside of class, for their budding 
careers.