I am writing in response to Ellen Ailts' column on the questionable value of unpaid internships.
As a third-year student at the University of Minnesota, I have certainly felt the constant anxiety and pressure of obtaining an internship before I finish my four years. As I attend my classes daily and am amongst the pool of hard-working students, I am always left with the thought of, "how can I be just as good as them? When will I kick my butt into gear and actually get an internship?" While I see Ailts' argument and attempt to relieve some of the stress that comes with a lack of internship, I'm still left wondering if I'm doing enough while in my collegiate years to prepare me for post-grad life. In fact, I sometimes don't even feel prepared enough to have an internship, let alone a full-time job after college.
I think it is unfair to say that unpaid internships aren't always valuable. Ailts brings up valid arguments and statistics contrasting the effectiveness of paid versus unpaid internships, but I say that any internship is good to have under your belt. It was indicated that graduates who held three or more internships are more likely to secure full-time employment, according to Look Sharp's 2016 State of Millennial Hiring Report. I can say that I would certainly feel more secure entering a full-time job with some experience — paid or unpaid.
I think the question that we should be looking at here is what type of experience you are looking for in your collegiate years. Maybe you'd rather save your money and work a, "good-old fashioned summer job," or "volunteer, travel, learn a language." as Ailts says. Or maybe you are looking for that internship that gets your feet wet into the profession of your dreams. I just know that I would prefer to spend my time preparing for my PR career than working at my local shopping mall.
This letter has been lightly edited for clarity and style.
An-Hoa Nguyen is a third-year student at the University of Minnesota studying strategic communications.