In Need Of Experience, Students Turn To Unpaid Internships

06/10/2010 08:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Despite the recent flurry of negative press surrounding unpaid internships, they're still being offered in droves -- and students are taking them.

The Boston Globe reports on unpaid working youth in Massachussetts, where outfits from corporations to non-profits to the government recruit college students to intern for free.

Several students interviewed for the article said that unpaid internships are necessary stepping stones to get jobs that actually pay them. The proof is in the application rates:

The New England Wildlife Center in Weymouth had 75 applicants for 25 unpaid internships this summer. "The economy has decimated us,'' says executive director Katrina Bergman-Banagis. "If we had to pay interns, we'd be out of business.''

Zach Beresin, 23, a Beloit College graduate from Acton, was an intern at the wildlife center last summer before it hired him on in the fall. "It was amazing,'' he says. "You get to work with the vet a lot and be involved in anything from surgery to giving meds, taking blood, doing X-rays or wing wraps on birds.''

The Labor Department instituted new criteria for unpaid interns in April. But wageless workers still run a high risk of being exploited. The Globe article told of one publishing intern whose duties included mailing books and doing the work of laid-off employees. And yet, the student still said the gig was "relevant and essential" for her job hunt.

What do you think? Would you take an unpaid internship for the experience? Leave a comment with your opinion.

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