Two of the key aspects of life at American University are internships and work experience. Many internships lead to high-paying, highly sought-after jobs after college. Unfortunately, unpaid internships leave students needing to also take on a paying job to make ends meet. These two responsibilities, combined with classes, wear students down and eliminate free time.
It’s an unfortunate cycle that’s hard to break without independent wealth. To get the big jobs you want down the road, you need an unpaid internship now. But because of the high cost of D.C. living, you need a job on top of the internship to survive. You also need to devote time to classes. Trying to juggle these three things inevitably leads to poor performance in at least one of them, and often all.
Some universities have begun offering scholarships or stipends for economically needy students who participate in unpaid internships, to help offset the costs of living. Such a program would be a huge benefit to AU and its students. Internships are a big part of the D.C. experience and specifically the AU experience. The school prides itself on preparing students for their careers by combining classes with work experiences like internships. They should work toward helping less-wealthy students get these experiences, by providing financial support for students in unpaid internships.