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Open Thread: Is It Time for Nonprofits to Tackle Unpaid Internships?

A chalkboard with 'Internship' written on it.

Can recent grads afford to work in the nonprofit sector? Increasingly, according to Al Jazeera America, the answer is “no.”

For many grads, in order for them to break into the sector, they are encouraged to take unpaid internships, but this leaves them unable to support themselves, prompting some to stop pursuing nonprofit jobs all together.

Nonprofits have more unpaid internships than other sectors (PDF): 57 percent of internships at nonprofits are unpaid, compared to 48 percent at government agencies and 34 percent at for-profits.

On the one hand, unpaid internships can offer valuable support to nonprofits on tight budgets and allow young people to build skills and explore the sector. On the other, some argue that the practice perpetuates the inequality that many nonprofits try to address as the only people able take unpaid internships are those with financial means.

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by Allison Jones

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