Unpaid internships are the worst. In fact, some can even be downright exploitative.
But let’s just imagine the medieval alternative for a moment.
Way, way back in the 1080s, apprentices were stuck learning a trade for as many as seven years, according to Iowa State University.
Here’re some of the “perks” of apprenticeships:
- You’d usually have to live with your boss
- You couldn’t earn wages
- You couldn’t even marry
- You usually had to pay your boss to teach you
Sound fun? In fairness, many apprentices had the benefit of working toward a concrete goal. At the end of their apprenticeship, they’d hopefully be admitted to a guild as journeymen, as Forbes reported.
While medieval apprenticeships and internships share some similarities, they’re quite different in some ways. In fact, apprenticeships still exist today, providing modern apprentices with hands-on experience in highly skilled technical jobs, according to Glassdoor.
Internships are a different beast altogether. The word “intern” actually originated in the medical community. Before World War I, the term described a doctor that had a medical degree but lacked a licence, as Time reported. After the war, doctors-in-training became known as interns.
Later on, businesses appropriated the term for their own programs. Internships as we know them began to grow in popularity in the late 1960s, as students enrolled in co-op programs to test out different careers and make money as college tuitions began to rise, according to Undercover Recruiter.
Today, internships have essentially eclipsed many entry-level jobs. Interns can be high school go-getters, university students, and recent grads (that includes yours truly). Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway recently starred in a movie about an older man going back to work as an intern. The fact is, more people than ever are embarking on internships in order to gain “experience” — even if that just means making coffee runs for your boss and sitting at your computer pretending to do work.
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