Internships and Diversity: How Paid and Unpaid Internships Unknowingly Shape Our Profession

First, I would like to say I got this post idea from Richard Edelman’s “The Great Experiment” post on his blog 6 A.M.

It is common for internships in public relations and communications to be unpaid. Naturally, the experience we receive in the real world is more valuable than any kind of salary or stipend we would receive. If we students did not believe so, then none of us would ever apply. But are professionals placing the emphasis in the wrong place?

What about those students who cannot afford to work an unpaid internship for a whole semester or summer? Where do they go to get that valuable experience professionals demand?

The public relations industry has been focusing on diversity for some time. To have people from different backgrounds, experiences, and regions would greatly improve the points of views and ideas in our industry. However, offering only unpaid internships therefore denies those future professionals who come from less fortunate backgrounds the experience needed to succeed. Our own advocates for diversity are closing the door to those who need financial assistance in order to learn. This needs to change.

Students, what do you see being done to create a more diverse environment? Professionals, have you noticed this discrepancy? How is it being addressed?

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