A horrible and ridiculously unfair truth of the job market, as far as entry-level positions go. Being an intern used to mean that you perhaps got the boss coffee, participated in a project, took loads of notes, and came out with either credit for school or the serious anticipation of a permanent job offer. That, friends, is a lie.
The graphic on this post details the ways that interns have begun to be used, and I choose that word, USED, deliberately. Used for our knowledge and the debt we’ve accrued by gaining our degrees, and for what? Basically, so we can list a 3-month “opportunity” wherein we are run ragged trying to impress companies and leaders we respect, but that do not respect our time. Since mom and pop can’t support every child well into adulthood, unpaid internships end up going to not necessarily the hardest workers, but those who can afford not to be paid or who are willing to take on a second job (just to support the first one? really????). Entry-level positions need to be paid, especially for the extent of work that they often do. Please, anyone with experience, inform me as to how we, college grads with mounting debt that is about equal to the cost of a car (a nice, new one, with some bells and whistles thrown in and a moon roof!) is supposed to live in D.C. on… $0 a month? Especially considering the caveat of many of these job ads asking for an unpaid intern– “full-time hours preferred.” So I should take this “job,” work about 40 hours a week, and find some other way to support myself? Thanks industries, I feel totally supported.
What’s this got to do with health? Well, glad you asked! Along with the obvious lack of earning potential posed by these jobs, and no guarantee for the future, this puts many college graduates in the position of putting off into the distant future hopes of attaining a full-time position with BENEFITS. Those benefits, of course, including HEALTHCARE. Many grads aren’t on plans financed by their parents, or can’t be due to financial reasons. So, in addition to the stress of “the unknown” sending blood pressures and cortisol levels (stress hormone that also increases your blood pressure and puts you at greater risk for future heart attack, blood clots, stroke, and cancer) through the freakin’ roof, lots of the underemployed internship-takers aren’t seeing doctors, dentists, or optometrists. That means all the aforementioned problems, cavities, out-of-date prescriptions for eyewear and all the cascading issues with that.
In the meantime, many jobseekers in this position are still trying to have lives. Some of them have families and children to care for. The lack of insurance pressures these people into extreme financial circumstances, mental health problems, poverty, and usually trickles down to their application for welfare. I don’t have kids, but here I am, with my car-sized debt on my shoulders, working in retail until I get my “real job,” and I qualify for $51 a month in food stamps. Where I’m standing is just the tip of the iceberg, since I went to a public, in-state university and thankfully have some family safety net. Hopefully people who have situations like this have learned some creative budgeting, because this information is poop.
One of the 47%
Infographic courtesy of upworthy.com