As president of The Fund for American Studies (TFAS), I have an obvious bias toward touting the advantages of internships. But I speak from experience, mine and the experience of tens of thousands of students who have participated in TFAS programs, when I stress the value of internships. My first two jobs out of college were with organizations that I had first interned with, one while a college student and the other immediately following graduation. Many of the leaders of the free market movement today came to Washington through internship programs. We take great pride at TFAS in having our summer interns now working at such organizations as the Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, AEI, America’s Future Foundation, Mercatus Center, Charles Koch Institute, Atlas Network, Young America’s Foundation, the Goldwater Institute, the Franklin Center, and Americans for Prosperity.
Unpaid internships are coming under attack from the left, who view them as some form of Marxian exploitation. Unions and the Obama Labor Department suggest that interns are unfair competition in the workforce. But internships are vital for young people in need of work experience. Internships expand networks for young people looking for job opportunities and career advancement. Don’t be shy about taking internships, even unpaid internships, while in college or just entering the workforce.
Roger Ream is president of the Fund for American Studies. These remarks were delivered at AFF’s “Lunch with a Leader” in April 2013.
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