A letter from one of America’s interns

Interns want to be paid out of necessity, not greed.

by Luis Ruuska

Dear American businesses,

Although you get a new crop of us every semester, and in time may forget our names and faces, you should know that your interns never forget you.

By the time we graduate, 55 percent of college students have shared your offices in the form of an internship or co-op experience.

For many of us, you are our first real exposure to the field we want to make our careers in. You show us the ropes; you inspire us, mentor us and teach us valuable lessons and skills that we could never get from the classroom.

That said, we can’t afford to work for free.

The average college student graduates with more than $30,000 in debt. Additionally, four out of five college students work an average of 19 hours a week at a while at school.

Financially, we can create a better future for ourselves by waiting tables or working retail, but we know that we won’t secure a career in our chosen field that way.

We need internships and co-ops to get our foot in the door. We need the experience, we need the knowledge and we need the connections, but we also need the paycheck as compensation for our time.

Please know that we’re not asking for a handout. We’re willing to do our part and produce high-quality work that lives up to your company’s professional standards.

In fact, interns who are paid fare better than their unpaid counterparts  in the job search because of the more demanding professional tasks and projects they’re asked to complete.

A study conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers reported 63 percent of paid interns got at least one job offer afterward compared to 41 percent of unpaid interns .

Truthfully, most of us would just like enough money to cover expenses like transportation, food and possibly even housing — if it’s a summer internship requiring us to relocate — during our time with you.

We want to continue working for you, American businesses, but we can’t afford to pay to work for you.