Recent news updates have reported that interns around the country are demanding fair pay for their hours “on the job.” Should interns be compensated for the opportunity to learn???

Internship mug

I don’t know about you, but when I was in college I had an internship at advertising agency, Ogilvy & Mather.

I happened to get a very small stipend (I think it paid for my summer commute to the office) but I didn’t really care.

I was there for the opportunity to learn, for the school credit, for the access to super-smart executives, for the impressive accomplishment on my resume and for the potential job offer after the summer ended.

And to this day, I cherish my experience as I look at the branded mug I still have on my desk 25 years later.

Now, interns in industries ranging from entertainment and publishing to interns at the White House are demanding compensation for their efforts through lawsuits, petitions and other means.

And I have to admit that I am slightly appalled.

Granted, if interns aren’t learning anything and are just answering phones and fetching coffee, that isn’t really fulfilling the educational and training goals of an internship.

Though said interns are still achieving many of the goals I listed above.

Plus, just being in the professional environment of your choice gives them an advantage over students who didn’t have an internship.

Then, there is the argument that unpaid internships are only viable for the wealthier students who can afford to work for no pay.

To this I would say, “What about the weekends???

When I was a college intern, I worked both Saturday and Sunday at a restaurant and at a grocery store to earn extra cash.

I also worked my way through school, so I am not really buying into that argument.

But I think the real issue here is that with every new generation, we lose sight of the bigger picture.

Much of today’s youth is used to getting everything they want the minute they want it.

They have video on demand, information at their fingertips on mobile devices, instant communication with friends and family via cell phone and Facetime; they never have to wait for anything.

I believe that this is resulting in an increased need for immediate gratification and a greater sense of entitlement; hence the situation at hand.

I think the bigger issue here isn’t whether or not interns should get paid for their menial labor but whether those interns can be taught to appreciate the opportunity they are getting and stop making themselves the center of the universe.

Tell us what you think in the Comments below…