First, there were paid internships. Those were okay. Then, there were unpaid internships. Those were just slightly better than nothing. Now, there are internships you pay for, which won't even get you a high-paying job. Those are a scam.
It's one thing to buy an internship at Vogue or HuffPo for thousands of dollars in some charity auction. That one thing is "stupid." But it's not a scam, because hey, it's for charity, and presumably anyone who'd waste money like that has enough cash to burn. Sure, it's grating that people can buy their way in the door at extremely competitive media jobs, but that's a much larger socioeconomic issue than we're addressing here.
Call us "ignorant," or even "woefully uninformed, plus ugly," but we never knew that this "paying for an internship" thing was a thing—in Washington, DC, of all places. I mean, do it in New York, it's kind of glamorous, at least. Do it in DC, and it amounts to paying thousands upon thousands of dollars to be "placed" in an internship that pays zero dollars and does not guarantee employment in a field that—even if you do land a job in it—does not pay well. The WaPo has an excellent story on this whole industry in DC of agencies that charge kids to place them in summer internships in the city (while paying their own top execs hundreds of thousands of dollars). Roll that sample price list!
- "nearly $9,000 for a summer"
- "about $7,000 for a summer"
- "as much as $7,800 during the summer."
- "an enrollment fee of $3,400 without housing"