By Taylor Pace
Scores of students each semester work through a WMU office to obtain internships that pertain to their field of study, but not all internships come with a paycheck.
No matter if the internship is paid or unpaid, most students agree that the work that they do is worth the time spent and the money earned or hours earned.
WMU’s Career and Student Employment Services helps students obtain paid and unpaid internships in their fields of study. Job fairs, job postings, internships and resume and cover letter writing are all services WMU provides to students, said Lynn Kelly-Albertson, the office’s executive director.
However, if organizations are a non-profit or an educational institution, they can legally choose not to pay their interns. Under the Obama administration, regulations were passed prohibiting employers from hiring interns without paying them. For-profit organizations have to pay their interns due to the fact that they make enough money to do so. That is why non-profits, educational institutions and other organizations are not required to pay their interns.
While non-profits may have funds to pay interns, some choose not to if there is a high demand for internships and not many positions available. “It’s a supply and demand sort of thing,” Albertson said.
Western students have the opportunity to obtain internships, part time jobs and much more through WMU’s career services. WMU student Meghan McHenry, 20, was an intern through the office of Development and Alumni Relations office as a social media assistant for “My WMU.” McHenry’s internship was paid and to her it was worth every penny.
“I was getting paid more than minimum wage, so I thought that it evened out,” said McHenry. In terms of experience, her internship taught her many different skills that she knows she will be able to utilize in the real world. Students like McHenry obtain internships so they can learn what professional skills are needed after graduation.
Graduate student Danielle Obhas obtained an unpaid internship at the Gilmore Community Healing Center, a residential substance abuse facility. Obhas, who is pursuing her master’s degree in counseling psychology, needs 600 hours of practical experience in a single semester as a part of her degree requirements. The internship is in essence part of her official education.
“I am learning quite a bit,” Obhas said. “There is a lot of things I am learning that I did not learn from classes, so it is very helpful.”