Perlin argues that unpaid internships perpetuate the very inequalities many nonprofits seek to rectify. “In their outward focus on doing good in the world, many nonprofits are losing sight of their own practices — and the old idea that charity begins at home,” he says. “The nonprofit sector risks being discredited as a reliable and representative voice if it lacks diversity. And requiring people to work unpaid to get into the field clearly has negative effects on diversity.”
By the time Cortney Harding graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in women’s studies, eager to begin a career with nonprofit feminist organizations, she had held seven unpaid internships. “I had done tons of free work, and I really wanted to make a go at being a professional feminist,” she recalls. But when she began to look for paid work, she says, leaders of several organizations encouraged her to keep applying for unpaid internships instead.
Her parents are both public-school educators and couldn’t continue to support her. Harding says that out of financial necessity, she pursued employment in the for-profit sector; she currently works for a music start-up. “The experience really left a very sour taste in my mouth,” says Harding, now 34. “I felt like I’d been priced out of activism.”
|—||Kate Newman, “For Interns at Nonprofits, Don’t Expect a Paycheck.” Al Jazeera America August 25, 2014|