No cash, just credit: paying for an unpaid internship

Catherine Boudreau

Over the summer I interned as a reporter with the Burlington Free Press, the local newspaper in Burlington, Vt. It was a summer filled with everything I hope to do at my first job, except one thing: I wasn’t getting paid. This I understand, as many internships are unpaid, and they often teach students valuable skills needed for a future career.

Something I don’t understand, however, is this: at the end of the summer I received a $2,000 bill from Quinnipiac University. I had to pay money to Quinnipiac for having an internship. I sought out the internship, applied to it, stayed in contact with an editor, was offered the job, and then proceeded to work hard all summer long, all without help from Quinnipiac. I wasn’t in a Quinnipiac classroom nor being taught by its professors.

I could use the $2,000 toward the ridiculous price of my elective course textbooks, groceries or anything related to personal expenses at college. But no. Shouldn’t this institution reward me for my successes, not drain my bank account? After all, I do pay a large sum of money to come here in the first place. The extra expense seems unfair.

I’ve been told that many students apply their internship credits to a fall or spring semester, and then take four classes instead of five. This would be a better option. But I studied abroad my sophomore year which puts me in catch-up mode. I have to take at least 15 credits every semester until graduation. Regardless, I would still be paying for an internship, which is baffling to me.

Also, as a journalism major, I am required to complete an internship for credit. This is a requirement I thought I was in favor of because it motivates students to find an internship and add valuable material to their resume. However, now I am not so sure. I know I would do an internship even if it wasn’t required, as many of my peers would too.

I don’t mean to discredit those who have helped me perfect my resume, or guided me toward the right decisions, or taught me how to write great story. I am very grateful for these resources, and understand that I may not have gotten an internship without them. But, I feel as though the actual internship and its process was something I accomplished on my own and should take credit for.

Perhaps it’s unrealistic, but can’t Quinnipiac just apply the internship credits free of charge?