Aside from the ongoing debate whether internships are legitimate opportunities for students to gain valuable work experience or just opportunities for companies to obtain cheap labor, another question being considered is whether or not interns are entry-level employees.
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Internships have long been thought of as a great way for students or those new to the work force to gain experience that will eventually become useful in employment. These days, while some may still ponder whether they are pro-internship or against, others wonder if internships could just replace entry-level jobs altogether. Here are a three reasons interns are not entry-level employees.
1. Interns Are Not the Same as Entry-Level Employees
They both seem to start out at the same place (and hopefully both eventually lead to better opportunities), but internships are not the same as entry-level jobs. Even if you happen to land an internship with a company or employer who treats you with the same respect as the other employees, entry-level jobs generally require less guidance and skills training than internships. It is often assumed that entry-level employees are automatically prepared for employment, while interns are still on their interning paths to employment. And to be frank, as if the pay difference weren’t enough of an indication, interns are usually not given the same value as entry-level employees and are viewed as giving a lower return on investment.
2. Interns Aren’t Paid the Same as Employees
One of the biggest issues that arises from the internship vs entry-level argument is the difference in pay and benefits. Interns are notoriously underpaid if paid at all and when student loans and living expenses are factored in, internships are impossible to live on. Furthermore, internships are short-term and not considered employment, which means benefits are almost always out of the question. A livable wage and benefits aren’t guaranteed features of entry-level employment but are certainly more likely than if you are an intern.
3. Employees Are Legally Protected
One of the main reasons companies can get away with not paying interns or paying them below minimum wage is because interns are not legally protected — like being a teenaged babysitter rather than working for a daycare. Because interns are not employees, the company is under no obligation to pay interns nor do interns have any legal recourse under the employee laws which protect employees.
Instead of considering whether internships should replace entry-level workers, it may be a better idea to consider whether internships are worth pursuing or should be passed on altogether. Replacing entry-level jobs with internships, however, would seem to be a step backward and unhelpful to the economy, employees, and employers.
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