Alright, I know it’s distasteful and all to talk money, but let’s talk money.
Isn’t it nice to have money? Actually, let’s be real–it’s less about having money, and more about being able to do the things that only money can buy.
Like for example, traveling. Maybe even more specifically, traveling to visit your family, so that you don’t feel quite so much like you’re half a world away from the ones you love.
Or, you know, living in a house with two jacuzzis. Cause, like, the first one is for regular use, and the second is for when Benedict Cumberbatch comes to visit, you know, like breaking out the fine china.
Don’t get me wrong–I knowingly made the tough and possibly irrational decision to be poor–like, dirt poor–in the hopes of finding a career that I can love, but this whole working for free thing is really kind of a bummer and a total demotivator. (“Come on, Tasha, you have to get up early tomorrow morning because you don’t want to be late for work!” “Why, so they can fire me from my free labor?”)
And what’s worse is that we live in a society that perpetuates and expands the income gap. The phrase, “Money makes Money” has never wrung more true when you think about the stock market, retirement funds, or even starting a business or getting an education. If you want to save, invest, or create, you have to have money. And usually lots of it.
But I guess the thing that irritates me and gets me down the most is that I have to spend money to work for free. Honestly, getting college credit in exchange for an internship is the most ridiculous concept that capitalism has ever pooped out. I mean, it’s fantastic for employers: companies don’t even have to outsource for those teeny-tiny, mundane tasks that usually clog up workflow for paid employees. But for the students doing the internships? I’d honestly like to Chuck-Norris-round-house-kick whoever the bureaucratic you-know-what is who came up with this as the solution to preventing labor lawsuits.
I feel I must clarify here that this isn’t to say that internships aren’t valuable and students shouldn’t do them. I’d be a hypocrite if I said that, seeing as I’ve had three internships of my own. I’m not even saying that all internships need to be paid–only one of mine did. Internships are actually really useful for several reasons; my personal two reasons for choosing to do all of my internships were the industry experience and getting acquainted with what a career in said industry might look like (publishing, film, marketing, etc) and the job connections. Hey, if you’re working for free, you gotta hope that it’ll lead to something paid at some point.
All I’m saying is that 99% of us young’uns looking for internships really don’t mind working for free if we’re getting exposure to the career world we want to be a part of. But 100% are pissed when that non-existent check turns into a very real tuition bill. Honestly, how does it makes sense at all that I have to pay to work for free? You could say that I’m “paying for the experience,” but that’s a crock of bologna. Yes, I am getting experience, but 98% of that is getting coffee, filling out excel sheets, writing up mundane documents that I don’t need three months to master, etc–things that sure, I might need to know how to do in the work world, but not things that paid employees spend a lot of time doing.
And it’s not like any of us need the college credit, either. Here again, 99% are only taking this or that “internship” credit class so that we can make it past the interview rounds and actually let our bosses see our potential. Most colleges don’t require an internship credit to graduate, and most don’t even require a certain number of extra courses to graduate, so then taking this course not only risks damage to GPAs and sucking my savings dry, but it’s an extra thing on top of already crazy/busy college lifestyles.
Moral of the story (and the short version of this whole rant):
99% of us don’t mind working for free in exchange for industry experience. But the second you tack on a college education requirement, the second I begin to hate you.
Circling back to this idea of having lots of money, I realize that money is never really going to solve any of my problems. In fact, the more money you have, the more stress you have to deal with by keeping track of it all (I’m supposing, seeing as I have no first-hand experience with that). And honestly? I really like being poor in the sense that it grounds me; it forces me to really think about what’s necessary and what’s fluff, and really appreciate simple living. It helps me focus on the most important thing in life: my relationships with other people.
But it does burn me that I’m burning through my savings so that I can provide free labor via coffee runs and menial tasks. It’s especially frustrating when everything has a dollar sign in front of it, including things like writing classes that might help jumpstart my career and health costs to take care of my physical and mental well-being.
And you hear things like, “Everybody goes through it,” and “It’s what you gotta do” like free labor is some right of passage. What I find particularly discouraging about this is that, even though everyone sympathizes, no one has done anything to change it. It’s like hitting my head against a brick wall repeatedly while someone stands by and says, “Oh yeah, I definitely went through a period where I was in those shoes…guess you gotta just keep working at it.”
But then again, what can you do, besides raising a voice to the heavens and hoping your prayers are carried across the wind? Idk, too poetic?
Alright, I gotta stop ranting before I put another abbreviation in the kitchen. (in the kitchen? I’ll stop talking now.)