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August 15th, 2013
06:30 PM ET

Working For Nothin’?

In a competitive job market, gaining on-the-job experience can be crucial to jumpstarting your career. But, as we see in today’s show some students are feeling they need to take creative steps just to afford living during their unpaid internships. Working for free comes with a cost and may not be an option for everyone. But, it could lead to a full-time job in the future. We want to know what you think. Would you be willing to take an unpaid internship?

Jeremy Dunn, Producer


Filed under: Feedback • News Coverage
soundoff (121 Responses)
  1. Rebecca

    Workin for nuthin is worth nuthin.

    August 15, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
  2. Gracey

    Why do you want to do a internship or job without being paid? There wasting your time if you don't get paid. Plus it's not fair for the workers too.

    August 16, 2013 at 7:50 am |
  3. Aya

    I think what the man in the show said is right; if paying for internships were necessary, they would have to choose students who are worth paying. But internships are for experiencing jobs to determine what they want to do in the future, and competition for that doesn't sound appropriate.

    August 16, 2013 at 7:57 am |
  4. Elaine

    That's soo unfair. I think they should get some type of payment I'd rather work for mc Donald's s!

    August 16, 2013 at 9:27 am |
  5. Mason

    I think it isn't fair that interns don't get paid, they are working and deserve to get paid at least minimum wage

    August 16, 2013 at 9:28 am |
  6. Shanequa

    I believe that they should be payed. It is not fair that they aren't payed because they could go and work at McDonald's and earn money but they go at work for the government and they are not payed.

    August 16, 2013 at 9:28 am |
  7. Hallie

    It is not fair to not pay interns. Free labor is not right. You should be getting paid for your hard work.

    August 16, 2013 at 9:28 am |
  8. Jake

    I don't think it's fair to have people work so hard and not get paid.. They should be rewarded for working

    August 16, 2013 at 9:29 am |
  9. Jolee

    Why would you work for free for the government, when you could get paid to work at a company?? I don't understand the way that America works!

    August 16, 2013 at 9:29 am |
  10. Pate

    Interns should get paid. If they spend the time to work for someone then they deserve it.

    August 16, 2013 at 9:29 am |
  11. Jed

    I think it is its right to pay the workers if they are working hard

    August 16, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  12. Caily

    I think interns should be paid. Because you can work at McDonald's and get paid, but not get paid for interning for the government.

    August 16, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  13. Jackson

    I think it's not fair to make an minimum wage for other non government companies. But not require pay for government interns who actually be working more.

    August 16, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  14. Trace

    I think you should get paid something when you work for the government if you do the job right.

    August 16, 2013 at 9:31 am |
  15. Audrey

    This is totally not fair! If you are working you should be paid! It's not fair for the intern or the other people that are giving money to the giver! We should be paid for going to school we have to pay to learn but we should be paid to learn!!!!! There should be a law that interns should be paid and so should students!!!!!!

    August 16, 2013 at 9:34 am |
  16. Ashton

    I don't think it's fair that interns aren't paid. Interns work just as hard as anyone else with a paying job.

    August 16, 2013 at 9:41 am |
  17. Avery

    I would be willing to take an unpaid internship if it leads me to a full-time job, because it could be a good way to jump start my career. It would nice to be paid for hard earned work though.

    August 16, 2013 at 9:41 am |
  18. Reese

    I would take an unpaid internship. It would be great to add to a resume. In the long run, the hard work would pay off.

    August 16, 2013 at 10:05 am |
  19. Chace

    No I wouldn't work for free. You're working so therefor you should be able to get paid.

    August 16, 2013 at 10:05 am |
  20. Brianna

    Honestly I wouldn't because I would need that money to pay for other things in life and pay for food and a shelter.

    August 16, 2013 at 10:05 am |
  21. Ana

    I would be willing to work for free if I really loved that project. I would like to work at anything I like to be able to learn new things and explore more stuff.

    August 16, 2013 at 10:05 am |
  22. trevor

    I really whouldnt but if I new that it was gana be a good job that whould pay off in the long run I defiealy whould take the job

    August 16, 2013 at 10:05 am |
  23. Samantha

    I would be willing to take an unpaid internship. Since I know that it would help out my future in getting a job? Of course I would, its the smart decision to make.

    August 16, 2013 at 10:05 am |
  24. Jordan

    The only reason I'd be willing to take an internship is because I wanted to put it on my resume, not for the point of getting paid. The only point I would disagree with is if you have to pay for items/accessories. They should at least have the stuff ready for you. Even if you do take an internship, you will most likely earn a paycheck in your later life.
    So yes, I would take it.

    August 16, 2013 at 10:06 am |
  25. Nick

    I would take an unpaid internship because it can help me get a job after or during college.

    August 16, 2013 at 10:06 am |
  26. Vivian

    I would not be able to take an unpaid internship. It would be hard to work on the internship without pay, and have enough money for all your living expenses.

    August 16, 2013 at 10:06 am |
  27. Marco

    How can our government afford to pay interns when we are already broke?

    August 16, 2013 at 10:17 am |
  28. Wessy

    I personally believe that interns should be paid a different, smaller salary than a normal worker gets paid to cover certain expenses of living.

    August 16, 2013 at 10:18 am |
  29. Mercadès

    I think that interns should not be payed because that is not their real job that they are dedicated to yet.

    August 16, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • Mercedes

      I do not think that is right. But i really like your name

      August 19, 2013 at 9:58 am |
  30. PABLO

    Interns should be payed on more important jobs like medical field studies.

    August 16, 2013 at 10:19 am |
  31. Juan-Pablo

    I wouldn't like to do an important job for no pay. Interns should be paid.

    August 16, 2013 at 10:19 am |
  32. Nic

    Getting paid for you're internship should not be mandatory. If a student wants or needs an internship badly enough, they will find a way to secure the funds they need.

    August 16, 2013 at 10:20 am |
  33. Juan-Pablo

    If I get paid for construction, interns should be paid.

    August 16, 2013 at 10:20 am |
  34. Micah

    I think interns shouldn't always be payed. Internship is a learning experience, and there wouldn't be as many interning opportunities if every boss of an intern had to pay them.

    August 16, 2013 at 10:21 am |
  35. Brooke

    Being an intern is really a learning experience, so I don't believe they should be paid, but the decision should really be left up to their employer, whether or not they should be paid for their work.

    August 16, 2013 at 10:21 am |
  36. Darla

    I think that interns should not be payed because that is not their real job that they are dedicated to yet.

    August 16, 2013 at 10:21 am |
  37. Hunter

    If I was asked to be an intern for a senator, it would be hard to say no! But moving all the way to Washington D.C. with no pay for an entire summer makes it hard to say yes! I think there should be a $2.00 per hour minimum wage for interns!

    August 16, 2013 at 10:22 am |
  38. Wessy

    I personally believe that interns should be paid a smaller salary than a normal worker gets paid to cover certain expenses of living.

    August 16, 2013 at 10:22 am |
  39. Belle

    It would be nice if the company provided a stipend for their interns to cover a portion of the living costs, but I think overall the experience is worth it. I would rather work at the United States capital for no pay than at the McDonalds down the street from the capital for minimum wage.

    August 16, 2013 at 10:22 am |
  40. A.J.

    While not being paid may sound good to the employer, the intern may struggle to afford the costs of living and can't keep the internship, making the whole ordeal a waste of time.

    August 16, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  41. James

    A better question might be: Would you rather work for a minimum wage business or the White House… for nothing!

    August 16, 2013 at 10:30 am |
  42. Thia

    I think that interns should not get payed because internship is an experience. You will find out if you truly want to do this job because you won't be payed to do it.

    August 16, 2013 at 10:44 am |
  43. Kyle

    Interning for no pay could be difficult but in the end could look good when attempting to find another job.

    August 16, 2013 at 11:00 am |
  44. Jackson

    This isn't right

    August 16, 2013 at 11:00 am |
  45. Hannah

    I think that internships should be paid. They reason why I think they need to be paid is because more than likely, people will need the money for pay for food or housing expenses. I don't think they should have a minimum wage though. The harder they work, the more money they make, but if your lazy, you shouldn't get that much pay at all. We need more hard working people nowadays, so if their income depends on how hard they work, that should be how much they make. Interns will need the money for future needs. Like if someone interns in high school, they would need the money for when they head to college. Today, money is getting tighter for people and if the interns can get some money, it will help them out tremendously.

    August 16, 2013 at 11:01 am |
    • Louis

      Internships are a very unique sort of work. You don't get paid so that they're always available. As the woman in the interview said, an internship on resume is essential. The idea of an internship–unlike most jobs–is not to paid, but to gain experience and learn about the field that you would like to pursue. But if you get paid for your labor it changes the whole demeanor of the work and it will be thrown in with the rest of the 'normal' jobs that are so hard to get these days.

      August 19, 2013 at 9:53 am |
  46. Casey

    I believe that forcing employers to pay all interns, as in a mandatory paid intern law, will hurt all future interns. As in, employers will reduce internships. I do see the abuse and think that should be stopped as well. But with all things, abuses will occur.

    August 16, 2013 at 11:01 am |
  47. Jakob

    I feel like if you are putting your time into a work place you should make some money. In the girls situation for the congress. She is moved away from home and needs the money for her every day life

    August 16, 2013 at 11:02 am |
  48. Payton

    I think that interns should get paid because even though interns are not fully trained yet, they are still working hard and most of them are not only juggling the job but also school loans and living expenses.

    August 16, 2013 at 11:03 am |
  49. Danielle

    I would rather take a paid internship but if it was my very last choice then I would have to take the unpaid internship

    August 16, 2013 at 11:03 am |
  50. Sarah

    When I think of the word intern I think of job shadowing without getting paid. I don't see the need to pay an intern. They are the ones that volunteered at the job location to help out and not get paid.

    August 16, 2013 at 11:03 am |
  51. Shannon

    I think that interns should be able to get paid because they aredoing a job and anyone else who has a job gets paid and still complains they dont get enough when the interns dont get paid at all. Its unfair.

    August 16, 2013 at 11:04 am |
  52. Ashlyn

    I believe they should be payed

    August 16, 2013 at 11:04 am |
  53. Becky

    Yes, an internship is supposed to give you an idea for a future idea, not pay for student loans.

    August 16, 2013 at 11:04 am |
  54. Brian

    I believe that interns should be helped at a neccessary rate to survive; however they should not have exess money like a career because they do need to earn a living of sucess and glory.

    August 16, 2013 at 11:04 am |
  55. Jaime

    I don't think interns should be paid, I understand them wanting to be paid but if they are paid then companies will allow less interns.

    August 16, 2013 at 11:04 am |
  56. Kennedy

    I would be willing to do an Intership for free if it was a job I really was considering doing. But if you hate it enough to fight for getting paid then its not the right job for you. An internship is so you can learn how to do a job.

    August 16, 2013 at 11:09 am |
  57. casiana

    The whole concept of a intern ship is not getting paid. Just the experience. I feel that it is not a huge issue and should be treated as such.

    August 16, 2013 at 11:42 am |
  58. Shanequa

    INTERNS SHOULD BE PAID BECAUSE THEY ARE POOR COLLEGE KIDS AND NEED THE MONEY AND THEY PUT A LOT OF WORK INTO IT.

    August 16, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  59. Jason

    I think they should not. Because if they want to earn money, they should get a job, not an internship.

    August 16, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  60. Courtney

    Interns should be paid.

    August 16, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  61. Peydon

    Yes, they are working just as hard as the workers being paid, so they should get the same rights as all the other workers.

    August 16, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  62. Christen

    I think interns should get paid.

    August 16, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  63. Nick

    I think that interns should be paid if they are doing all of there work how the boss wants it done

    August 16, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  64. Dalton

    Interns should be paid because the people that are just learning to live on their own and learning to pay for their own items. Because if that was you, you would want to be paid.

    August 16, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  65. Shelbi

    I think that they should be able to get paid because some people need to pay for collage! If you were in there shoes what world do????

    August 16, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
  66. Sydney

    They should be paid. Even tho they get experancy, they still need money to pay for food and if they are not getting paid its kinda a waist of time

    August 16, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
  67. Will

    Yes I think all interns should be paid because if they do a job they should get the reward for doing it.

    August 16, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
  68. Mario

    I think that they should be payed so that they can get money to pay for books and all the essential things college students need

    August 16, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
  69. Ben

    I think that they should be paid because they work to hard and they would need to earn a living and pay for other nessesities and college tuition

    August 16, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
  70. Jordan

    Interns should be paid because most college students are poor. Most everyone that has an intern was in college at one time so they know how hard it is to pay for essentials in college.

    August 16, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
  71. Ty

    Yes, because they are working and should get paid like every other adult that works.

    August 16, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
  72. Drake

    I think it depends on the buisness, and whether or not they are doing something important.

    August 16, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
  73. Anna

    I don't think it's fair that people are working so hard to do what the company asks them to do, and don't get anything but a thank-you.

    August 16, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
  74. Tre

    I think that interns should not be paid because they are not actually doing all the work that they would if they actually had that job.

    August 16, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  75. Hayley

    I would take an unpaid internship. I would take it because it would be good experience

    August 16, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  76. Micheal

    I believe it should be a business's choice to let them pay interns. If it is required by law to pay interns business's will just completely stop having them. It would then hurt the education system since less interns positions would be available.

    August 16, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  77. Jonah

    Interns should be paid for their hard work. If they want to be paid however, they should not be surprised if the availability of internships goes down.

    August 16, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  78. Benjamin

    well what is the point of working for nothing, if working internship is harder than working at a fast food place then why not just work at the fast food place, its alot easier and you get paid. Eventually everybody is going to leave the job and its all gonna fall down hill

    August 16, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  79. George

    I think that interns should get paid because how else are they going to get the money to live

    August 16, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  80. Jackie

    I think they should get paid because they work hard!!!!!

    August 16, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  81. Cole

    I would not work for no pay because I have expenses that I have to pay so why waste my time working for nothing when I could be getting paid somewhere else

    August 16, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  82. Travis

    I would not work for no pay. It wouldn't have to be very much, just enough to get by.

    August 16, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  83. Elijah

    I would be willing to if it would get me a better job later in life. But if it wasn't going to help me then why work for no pay?

    August 16, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
  84. Clayton

    I would take the job because there's a possibility I would get a good job in the future and I would maybe be successful later in life

    August 16, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
  85. Braiden

    They should be payed because it is a complete waste of time, life is only so short......

    August 16, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
  86. Bartholomew

    I dont think interns need to be paid. They're getting job experience and will have a better chance at getting high level jobs. Even if the internship is in an expensive place to be living, it's worth it in the long run.

    August 16, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
  87. Shequefa

    I don't know, but it would be pretty cool to be an intern, yeah.

    August 16, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
  88. Keke

    I think they should get paid. I don't think its very fair for these inters to go to the place and then not get paid. I think they should get paid because so they can save the money they pay for and pay the exspensive.

    August 16, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
  89. Dylin

    Interns are working, they should receive recognition by their bosses but they are learning on the job. So if they do good enough at a job beneath them with no pay, they can be recommended by others to get payed, and people know they don't complain about the job.

    August 16, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
  90. Crystal

    I think that interns should be paid. They don't have to be paid a big amount but they need to be paid enough to be able to support themselves.

    August 16, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
  91. Megan

    I honestly don't think that interns should be paid because all you do is just follow people around and watch them work. I would probably do internships because I want my resume to look good and be able to get more jod opportunities when I'm older. If they need money to support themselves they should try to get a real job and if business's start paying interns that is just more money we will have to give the government.

    August 16, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  92. Tamerica

    I think it would be nice if the work program that the students worked for paid them. They do most of the work with the company so why not pay them? The interns work extra hard to get a title on their résumé. But the downside is if interns started getting paid then where would that money come from?

    August 16, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  93. Brittney:)

    I don't think they should get paid. If they do get paid where would the money come from? It would have to come from somewhere! We would have to pay more money and I don't think we should have to. So I say yes. They should work without pay.

    August 16, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  94. Haley

    I don't like the fact that they are not paying the interns. I mean depending on the job I guess I understand and how long the interns work per week. I wish that there was no such thing as an intern i think the younger people should be treated the same way as the older ones

    August 16, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  95. Crystal

    I believe that the interns should be paid. They don't need big amounts but they need enough to support themselves.

    August 16, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  96. Winter

    They should be paid so it is far. And they should be paid normally.

    August 16, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  97. Zachery

    no because I do not want to work for free

    August 16, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  98. Gabriella

    Yes because it would keep me on my feet and not at home doing nothing.

    August 16, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  99. Anthony

    I would take an unpaid intern ship only if I had another of to pay for bills etc.

    August 16, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
  100. Sienna

    Yes, I think they get paid because e they are working hard to get a good job but don't get paid so they cant pay for food and supplies. so I think its only fair for them to get paid.

    August 16, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
  101. Anonymous

    I think that Interns should be paid because they are there to learn how to do that specific job, and while they are working on getting a good job, they don't have any income to support themselves. So that is why they would need to be paid to learn how to do that job correctly. Also, being an intern is a lot of work, especially from being there as long as a regular job there would be. They should at least earn some kind of income to pay their bills and put food on the table.

    August 16, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
  102. Abbey

    No because it is a waste of your time and you are doing a lot of work for nothing. They should at least give you a little bit of money.

    August 16, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  103. Francesca

    No, I think that the interns should get paid but not as much as the people who actually work there. And it also depends on the internship job they are doing.

    August 16, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  104. TJ

    I think that interns should get payed minimum wage/money, because nobody wants to work and not get paid that just makes it even worse. I would hate to have to work and not get paid, everybody needs money to survive and especially if you don't have another job.

    August 16, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  105. Kammi

    If your not getting paid, how can you provide food, water, or shelter for yourself? I would not be willing to take an unpaid internship.

    August 16, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  106. Cami

    I believe the intern should get paid because it is a lot of work to be an intern. It requires many skills, so I think people deserve to get paid as a reward for their labor.

    August 16, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  107. Jeremiah

    I wouldn't be willing to take an unpaid internship because you would be taking time to do a job and not get paid rather than look for a job that would actually get you some money.

    August 16, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  108. Kristen

    Being a intern is a necessary item to graduate. This opportunity should be an honor to receive not something that is guaranteed. A short term internship should be an unpaid service but, a long term internship should receive some type of payment. As a student, working in a future career position should be something earned, not directly given.

    August 16, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  109. Hung

    I think people should have take an internship in a company even it is unpaid internship because of some reasons:
    – You can know what is real business and your theory which you learn in school apply in the business. It gives you the right directions for your career orientation.
    – You have an opportunity to become the full-time job if you have positive working attitude. It is good for your when financial crisis period.

    August 17, 2013 at 4:46 am |
  110. Poli

    Yes and no. If its a good job and you like it, its ok. But if it is one that you don't really enjoy and is quite some hard work, then no.

    August 17, 2013 at 11:42 am |
  111. Trey

    Not unless I absolutely had to work in the field and as a last resort, otherwise an unpaid internship position probably says more about who you are working for, they are tight with the cash, not the way you want to start a job really. I did it one time and I feel like I was totally taken advantage of.

    August 17, 2013 at 11:49 am |
  112. Gatlin

    Absolutely not! Ridiculous to ask students to do that when they have full time classes and most likely need to pt job while going to school. People need $$ to live not some "maybe" job after graduation.

    August 18, 2013 at 12:07 am |
  113. Susan

    The people who are the building blocks of all foundation our teachers have to pay to student teach and they also do not get paid and they make a lot less money than anyone who would work in the white house so if they can do and still love their job people who will be making a lot more need to just enjoy the experience

    August 18, 2013 at 12:55 am |
  114. Lak

    Even though, many internists could experience many things otherwise they cant, but paying nothing doesn't sound right. Since they do man trivail routine works so people in full job could focus on their tasks. Employers don't need to pay much but should pay minimum wage or they compensate for certain amount of money for food and transportation.

    August 18, 2013 at 5:03 am |
  115. Yao

    I am not concerned about my own intership, because my parents will give me a helping hand. Working for free does come with a cost. But I don't think it will be a cost that really matters. I have no need to rent an apartment and cook for myself. When I go back home after work, dinner is already on the table.

    August 18, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
  116. BooKeR

    I am willing to take an unpaid internship, no matter how difficult it would be. Anyway, learning a trade is more important than earning a living, especialy at the time when you are on the way to a full-time job in the future.

    August 18, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
  117. Yao

    I am willing to take an unpaid internship, no matter how difficult it would be. Anyway, learning a trade is more important than earning a living, especialy at the time when you are on the way to a full-time job in the future.

    August 18, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
  118. Stephanie

    I think that having unpaid internships makes sense. It gives students a chance to experience what they want to do in the future and find out if it's right for them. I also agree that you can't go a full summer without getting paid or students could lose their house or apartment. In order to make a compromise I feel internships should only work half the day or half the week so they can get experience and still have time to work another job.

    August 18, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
  119. Staci

    I think it is a good idea because you get the experience and you are advertising yourself for future employment

    August 18, 2013 at 7:38 pm |