Pay to work?

Why being forced to pay for internship credit could be detrimental for some students.


Emily Brown, Senior Columnist

For a lot of students, internships are one of the most important parts of college. But they are also stressful and exhausting. 

Many students are barely scraping by even working multiple jobs. Some use their internship money to live off of. 

At Hamline, if a student would like to get credit for an internship, they are required to pay for the credit as if they were sitting in a class on campus. On the surface, this makes sense. If a student wants the credit, they should pay for it. But if we look below the surface, it’s not that simple.

I have recently got a part time job at a small medical supply company as their technical and creative writer. I really enjoy it. I write blog posts, mass emails, and manage their Facebook page. For full transparency, I am a part-time employee and not an intern.

But, as I was talking to my boss, who I met at an adaptive ski program I’ve been in for years, I mentioned that if I wanted to get credit for an internship, I would have to pay the school for the semester. She was shocked at this. Why did it cost so much? Why did I have to pay to work?

The summer tuition (when many students do internships) at Hamline is $693 per credit. That means a 4-credit class or internship is $2,772. When you pay for your credits, you’re also paying for other things included with those credits. Some of those things include (but are not limited to) the instructor, the space you learn in and the textbooks you use. 

You probably don’t get any of those at an internship, even though the cost per credit is the same. If you aren’t paying for these items, where is your money going?

Interns are no longer students in a classroom. We are hard working employees, and we deserve to be treated as such.”

— Emily Brown

Hamline would argue that internships are a learning experience, and they are. That’s the whole point of internships. But it’s a different type of learning. It’s on the job training. Interns are no longer students in a classroom. We are hard-working employees, and we deserve to be treated as such.

Some majors such as Legal Studies require students to have an internship for their senior seminar. They have to do an internship while they are taking the senior seminar class and meet as a class once a week to discuss their internship. 

If a student does an internship for credit, they also have to check in with an advisor at Hamline and do some reflection in writing. But, this is still not the same as sitting in a classroom with expensive textbooks and a teacher lecturing for three hours a week.

I would love for credit for internships to be free. College students work hard enough. We shouldn’t have to pay to get on the job training, but I also think it’s impossible for Hamline to give out free internships. Hamline is a private college and they need to make money to stay open. I’m wondering if we can meet halfway. 

Can credits for internships be half price just like they are for J-term? I do understand that J-term classes only last four weeks, whereas an internship can last an entire semester. But as I said before, it’s not like a normal full semester class. Internships are a very helpful part of college and money should not get in the way of getting credit for it.