According to the Student & Alumni Outcomes page on Hofstra’s website, 91 percent of students in the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication take on an internship, with the average student taking on three. These statistics are impressive but fail to mention that for most, internships are a graduation requirement, and not one that comes easily.
Mandatory internships aren’t the worst idea. They provide students with experience in the field, better job prospects after graduation and, of course, the high rates of students taking internships make the school look good. The problem lies in the fact that many internships are unpaid, and Hofstra does not provide stipends for those who must commute to New York City or elsewhere on Long Island several days a week in order to meet this graduation requirement.
The first and biggest issue is the latter. The administration has said time and time again that they do not have the funds to assist students with transportation for internships. You can either assist students who must commute or make internships optional. Not doing either is totally unreasonable, and I hate that we are supposed to just accept that. For the amount of money that we pay to be here, we deserve much better support than what we are receiving.
Second, there's the fact that internships are often unpaid. I can try to overlook Hofstra’s supposed inability to ease travel costs for a student whose internship pays them, but when it’s a full-time student commuting to their unpaid, mandatory internship two or three days a week, there’s absolutely no way for any moral person to shrug and ignore it. If this student comes from a low-income background or their parents are unable or unwilling to help offset these costs, the student may have to take an on-campus or nearby job. At this point, they would be torn between school, interning, work, extra-curricular activities and their personal life, and there simply are not enough hours in a day, or days in a week, for that. While I’m on the subject, I have to mention that the practice of hiring young people and not paying them is horrible and exploitative and should not be as common as it is. If you cannot afford to pay someone for the work they do for you, you should not be seeking employees. Of course, college students need experience – but the worker needs both bread and roses.
Third, there’s the pressure of finding an internship so as to graduate on time. Take, for example, me. First semester of junior year, I sent out hundreds of applications, got a couple interviews, but got a lot of rejections and didn’t get an internship. Same thing happened second semester, but I did score one over the summer. Unfortunately, my internship advisor didn’t deem it suitable as a journalism internship, so I couldn’t receive credit for it. I still volunteered there and continued to send out applications. Once again, I got many rejections and very few other answers. So here I am – a senior with no internship, panicking as to how I’m going to be able to get one so I don’t have to stay in college for an extra semester over three little credits.
All in all, Hofstra runs its internship program in a very thoughtless and irresponsible way. Struggling is not glamorous or ideal. Burnout is not to be praised. The school we pay thousands upon thousands of dollars to attend owes us the dignity and respect to make our lives even a tiny bit easier by alleviating the monetary headache that comes with commuting to fulfill a requirement. Of course, the administration would most likely read this and yet again say there’s no money, but I can’t help but feel that we need to graduate more than they need a new business school.