It had to happen in this economy. A “paid internship” now means that the student is the one who pays the cash-strapped employer, and there are several consulting firms ready to help students find internships for the right price.
In her “Work and Family” column in the Wall Street Journal, Sue Shellenberger says in this “treacherous job market,” this turn of events was foreseeable. She acknowledges that the practice is criticized for giving an advantage to children of wealthy families, but the flip side is that other parents think it gives a fairer advantage to those students who don't have the “personal or political contacts” to get a top internship.
The internships for sale are mostly in the cities that students want to spend the summer in or where they want to live after they graduate: New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. But there are also international internships in Europe, the Far East, and Latin America. Some cities are already sold out!
Top consulting firms, such as University of Dreams and Fast Track Internships, provide résumé and placement services, housing in college dorms, and other services such as off-hours social events or training.
Prices for these internships vary by if they are paid or unpaid, the location, and the industry involved. They start at under $1,000, with internships at choice employers such as magazines and record companies running from $6,000 to $9,000. Parents can use credit cards to charge the experience, and financing is available (there are scholarships, too). But don't assume that these prices are for the full summer; some prices are only for 4-week or 6-week “sessions.”
Other consultants will find students paid internships, and then take a flat percentage out of their weekly paychecks as their payment, according to the article.
There is even another venue for paid internships--charity auctions! Companies that don't have money to support their usual nonprofits are auctioning off the experience and donating the money. Reportedly, one internship at a trendy magazine recently went for $12,000!
Source: Wall Street Journal, Toughsledding Blog, and Fast Track Internships