More Parents Paying Thousands For Unpaid Internships

As the internship market tightens amidst the global economic downturn, many parents are willing to pay hundreds and thousands of dollars to give their kids the training they need to land a full-time position in this treacherous job market.

The concept of paying for an unpaid internship, like through a Web site such as or by using a well-connected consulting service, isn’t new, but in this economy even more parents are taking that step. Even as the economy slows, internship-placement programs are seeing demand rise by 15% to 25% over a year ago. Critics of the programs say they deepen the divide between the haves and have-nots by giving students from more affluent families an advantage. But parents say the fees are a small price for giving their children a toehold in a treacherous job market. And operators of the programs claim they actually broaden access to internships by opening them to students who lack personal or political connections to big employers.

Ethical or not, programs that auction off internship positions to the highest bidder, whose offspring might not be the best for the job, justify their services “as one way to help charities fight an otherwise staggering downturn in donations.”, a fundraising Web site, saw a sharp rise in internships offered for sale last year at such employers as Rolling Stone, Elle magazine and Atlantic Records, says Chief Executive Kelly Fiore. Another site,, says a one-week internship at a music-production company sold last month for $12,000.

We wonder how long parents will be able to afford paying thousands of dollars to secure their offspring a job at a company they’ve already had to bail out.

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