As many of us will know first-hand, the pressure placed on the millennial generation is massive. Now more than ever there is a huge importance placed upon achieving excellent grades, partaking in numerous extra-curricular activities and graduating with a good degree from a top university. After this, the competition for jobs and the emphasis on having a successful career is overwhelming. While the path to procuring your dream job may not be as nepotistic or status based as it once was, there is still a strong element of elitism, albeit a more subtle one.
From a young age we are made aware of the golden ticket to the corner office and high salary job; a CV riddled with weeks of work experience and prestigious internships. The problem with this is that, for many, work experience in their field of choice is not easy to acquire. While many schools offer extensive advice and provide contact details of parents or old students, and many fortunate students are able to approach their parents and their parents’ network of successful colleagues and friends, this is not the case for everyone. Further to this, and perpetuating the problem, is the fact that without impressive and appropriate work experience, these illustrious internships are effectively impossible to get.
The other issue with internships is that many are unpaid. As such, for numerous students who need to support themselves over summer this is not an option. While those who have parents that can fund them over the summer, an unpaid internship is an ideal way to spend their summer. Whereas, for many other students, they cannot afford to spend twelve-weeks as an unpaid intern instead of working in a paid position. Moreover, there are many organisations which will provide you with guaranteed work experience or internships at home or abroad for a large fee. Not only do unpaid internships fuel a heavily elitist system, but at their core they are simply unfair. Taking advantage of the fact that it has become a requirement for students to acquire multiple placements, depending on the field they want to enter, and using it for free labour is unacceptable.
While it is highly unlikely for nepotism and parental contacts to stop playing a role in the success of many fortunate students, access to internships can be improved. Unpaid internships should not be allowed; instead companies should be required to pay their interns at least minimum wage. This small change could significantly impact the future prospects of many young students, giving them more of a chance to land their dream job. Like many other outdated systems, this form of elitism needs to be left in the past.