Unpaid Internships Are Worth It: Suck It Up Millennials

Kristan Hawkins is the president of Students for Life of America.
Kristan Hawkins is the president of Students for Life of America.

A die-hard Hillary Clinton supporter – a young, female Millennial – recently applied to be a fellow with the campaign and was accepted. However, she was asked to move out of state and work for free. It was hard not to laugh at her over-the-top, entitled millennial reaction published in USA Today: "Finding out that Hillary perpetuates the exploitation known as unpaid internships was like discovering that Santa wasn't real."

Poor baby.

Millennials are in a tough position right now. They are hard pressed to find work, with 14% of them unemployed, others barely able to make it on a shoe-string budget, and most buried under massive student debt. Graduating college means facing the harsh reality of a suffering economy and businesses who are looking for the best of the best to fill positions. Yet even with a healthy job market, employers want experience to go along with that expensive degree, which means internships are huge assets to any education.

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Internships by definition are almost always unpaid and are given for the opportunity to gain valuable experience in a chosen field, network within an industry, and hone a resume to stand out among thousands of others. Working on a political campaign is a great way to get that experience. Campaigns are hard work but they are a good avenue to get crucial experience quickly. Many even lead to lucrative full-time paid positions, especially if the candidate wins.

When I was in college, I applied to join the Bush-Cheney 2004 re-election campaign and was accepted. Like this young lady's experience with the Clinton campaign, I was asked to move to a new city and work for free.

It was the best education I'd ever received and best decision of my entire career.

Every job I have ever had is because of that internship. It taught me how to rely on myself, become a problem solver, and how to organize the "grassroots." Many techniques I've implemented in my organization, which had never been tried before in the pro-life movement, came from my experience during that six-months long internship.

I have to admit that it was tough because I had to figure out a way to make ends meet without making any money, but I made it work because I knew that the experience I would get would be worth my time, energy, and commitment. It was a sacrifice I was willing to make because, let's face it, I didn't have any experience that could get my foot into the door of a place that would pay me the big bucks.

Campaigns only last for a finite amount of time and Presidential campaigns don't happen every year, thank goodness, so the incredible experiences to be had during those is short-lived. Live with friends or parents, eat Ramen, save up now and apply to an internship of your choice next year. There are ways to make it happen.

Millennials aren't as special as we think we are. We aren't entitled to everything we want. It's maddening to assume anything other than we have to take the initiative, make the contacts, and work just as hard, if not harder, than anyone else to get where we want to be.

And if taking an unpaid internship will get us there, then we should do it.

Employers, I would take down this young lady's name in case she comes knocking for a job. I know I certainly will.

Kristan Hawkins is the President of Students for Life of America, the nation's largest pro-life youth organization with over 700 groups nationwide. She is author of the new book, Courageous: Students Abolishing Abortion in this Lifetime.

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