It’s summer internship season at DePaul University and the student body is as busy as it’s ever been, applying for jobs, writing cover letters, and prepping resumes. These tasks are always difficult and stressful, but they are nothing compared to the emotional gymnastics the students will soon have to engage in to convince themselves that the unpaid labor they will soon be signing up for isn’t actually the straight-up slavery it appears to be. Here is The Black Sheep’s guide to convincing yourself that the company paying you “in experience” isn’t literally enslaving you.
5.) You are being paid… in experience!:
This is probably the most effective technique for convincing yourself that your new corporate masters aren’t utterly taking advantage of your economic desperation. As you walk into work to perform grueling, meaningless tasks for absolutely no pay, you can just remind yourself that this is all valuable resume-building experience and that it’ll help you get a job later in life. Seriously, focus on all that experience you’re getting, and not on the fact that you’ve got to go to your graveyard shift at the gas station after this, just to put bread on the table, or the student loan debt steadily piling up around you, or the fact that your boss makes more in an hour than you have in your entire life.
4.) It’s a minority-owned business!:
Another great way to reassure yourself that you aren’t being enslaved by a subtle and profoundly corrupt economic system is to work for a minority-owned business. You can feel like you’re part of a movement wrestling power away from the straight white male majority and your lack of pay is an unfortunate reality of the disenfranchised demographic group! Even though the black people/women/weird religion you’re working for is completely happy forcing you to work without pay and is probably almost as advantaged and power-hungry as any other rich people. Oh well!
3.) You’re proud of your work:
You might be 100% abused by late-stage capitalism into working for less than any human deserves, but hey, at least you’re proud of your work. You’re proud of those three coffee runs you make every day, of the minor copyediting you were allowed to do last week, of that time your company secured the Princeton deal! You’re not a slave because at least you’re doing good work as you’re being ground to dust by the cogs of capitalist machinery.
2.) At least you get to leave…:
If your unpaid internship was actual slavery, then you wouldn’t be able to go home, take your shoes off and sob about how much you hate your job. Totally worth spending half your time this summer working for no actual compensation.
1.) Your labor violations aren’t THAT bad:
It might be true that you’re being forced to work long hours for no pay, and that your bosses make inappropriate sexual advances towards you, and that your office is poorly ventilated, and that you’re not given a lunch break, but c’mon actually slavery would be worse. Probably. Honestly, you should suck it up, keep your head down and do your time. You’ll get a real job eventually.
Seriously, kids, unpaid internships can be hard, but everyone in the current economic climate has to do ‘em, so just take a deep breath and try not to focus on the fact that capitalism makes slaves of us all.
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