As graduation nears for thousands of seniors, many are struggling with their mandatory internship requirements.
Serving as a condition to graduate, seniors earning a bachelor’s degree in Criminology and Justice Studies at CSUSM are required to perform a minimum of 100 hours of community service at a local business or organization.
Their work hours are recorded and logged by a supervisor before being submitted to students’ professors for evaluation.
In addition to balancing academics, work and social activities, seniors are also burdened with the chore of mandated community service.
CSUSM states that internships expose students to possible career fields related to their area of study. These residencies allow for an in-depth view of the inner workings of local offices as students gain real-world experience in a professional setting.
Ph.D. Professor of Sociology Xuan Santos explains, “These internships are intended to broaden students’ understanding of organizations and professions and connecting sociological theories to the real world.”
Some students have even been offered employment by their internship organizations.“People can work at public and private grassroots organizations and could become gainfully employed,” said Santos.
While it’s true that these internships provide students with professional interactions and expose them to intricate office bureaucracies, we must ask ourselves what the cost of this experience truly is.
For many seniors, the mandatory internship requirement has greatly affected their ability to balance responsibilities outside of school. This is particularly evident for students who also hold jobs.
Countless seniors have reported that they have been forced to reduce hours at their jobs, or even had to quit entirely in order to meet their internship requirements.
Senior Alan Alcantar shares his experience with his mandatory internship, “My mandatory internship has literally forced me to quit my job in order to accommodate the hours of my internship and school.”
As students working to support ourselves in school, we must appreciate the irony of being forced to quit a paying job in order to work for free, so that we may eventually get a paying job. Most students work to pay for school and simply don’t have the luxury of quitting their jobs.
Alcantar and others have proposed some changes to the internship program. Alcantar said, “Maybe students could be offered time after graduation in order to meet the hour requirements, in order to accommodate a work-school balance.”
Moreover, let’s not overlook the conflict of interest manifested by these internships.
At the end of the day, a school is just a business. When our school looks at other local businesses, they see one thing: dollar signs.
The mandatory internship requirement is a perfect system designed to graciously funnel free labor into local businesses.
It’s hard to imagine that these local businesses won’t be inclined to donate handsomely to CSUSM in the future.
We’ll scratch your back, you scratch ours, and we both profit. Except that profit is earned off the backs of laboring students.
It’s incredibly frustrating to know that our diplomas are being held hostage by our university administrators. After meeting stringent requirements and dutifully completing a myriad academic works, seniors must also submit to a 100-hour community service requirement in order to graduate.
At its worst, a mandatory internship is indentured servitude. At its best, it’s good, old fashioned extortion.
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