The Daily Gamecock

Decision between internships, debt looms

Economy leaves students little choice when applying for summer positions

Deadlines to turn in applications for summer internships are quickly approaching and the yearly stress of sending in résumés and work samples is looming over students desperate for the one opportunity that could be the experience they need.

As low-income college students with hefty tuition bills and living expenses, most of us are used to functioning without much money. Obviously, the ideal internship would be paid and offer help with lodging as well as compensating for mileage. In most fields, however, this situation isn’t realistic.

But when internships aren’t paid they have to be taken for credit. And when they’re taken for credit, students have to pay summer tuition.

This means instead of simply offering free labor, interns may have to pay out of pocket — sometimes more than a thousand dollars — for a summer of experience.
Working as a company’s slave is one thing, but paying to do so is even crueler.

The costs of this financial sacrifice, along with finding a place to stay, buying food and all other activities that cost money during the summer, add up.

It’s understandable that in today’s economy many companies simply can’t afford to pay students for 12 weeks of work. But it’s incredibly frustrating that students are forced to pay expensive summer tuition on top of not getting an income.

USC should offer some sort of compensation or alternative for students bearing the financial burden of an internship. Partnerships with local businesses could allow the university to further incorporate the community.

Perhaps students could take the internship over the summer and defer the credit for the fall when they already have to pay tuition and their full financial aid applies.

Another solution could be that a small amount of financial responsibility be placed on the company where the internship is held and for the company to pay the tuition directly to the school or reimburse the student.

This way students aren’t getting direct income from the internship, but they don’t have to indirectly pay for it either.

Experience is the key to getting a job. Internships are the key to gaining experience. But if an internship is too much of an expense, then students are forced to decide if they want to go in debt or deal with blank,  résumés.

It’s stressful enough worrying about finding a job to pay the bills after graduation. There shouldn’t be an equally intense stress during the four years on how to pay for summer internships.