The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has initiated a campaign called “Unpaid Is Unfair,” urging Congress to pass legislation that would prohibit unpaid internships on a national level.
NACE argues that modern legislation is necessary to address the inconsistency surrounding internships, which are sometimes considered unpaid training and other times seen as fully paid employment.
NACE’s campaign emphasizes that unpaid internships not only hinder access, particularly for lower-income students, but also lead to less favorable employment outcomes for graduates.
Data from NACE shows that paid internships are associated with larger salaries and more job offers for students compared to unpaid internships.
NACE launches nationwide campaign
Paid interns reported a median starting salary of $62,500, while unpaid interns earned a median starting salary of $42,500.
Many students are unable to commit to unpaid internships, especially those who must work during college to cover tuition expenses.
According to a survey, students who completed any type of internship, whether paid or unpaid, received more job offers than those who did not.
Currently, there is limited regulation of unpaid internships at the federal level, with only a few states affording unpaid interns the same rights against harassment and discrimination as paid employees.
NACE’s campaign marks a significant effort to address this issue on a national scale.
While NACE’s campaign is a notable step toward ending unpaid internships nationwide, advocacy groups and students have been pushing for similar reforms for years.
These efforts have gained momentum, with some successes in advocating for paid internships within the federal government and other sectors.
However, debates continue regarding the value of unpaid internships as a form of training versus exploitative practices that provide little benefit to students.