We could have published a piece on the injustice of unpaid internships. I’ve had one; most of us have had one. This summer, unpaid Eye writers and artists built Ikea shelves in SoHo, took out the trash in Greenpoint, and burnt their arms delivering overheated pizzas in Williamsburg. One got fired (or, got asked to stop hanging out) for joking about working for free. Another one worked in an office where unpaid interns outnumbered paid employees.
But that story, as maddening as it is, is just as hackneyed as it is demoralizing: Unpaid internships exist, and for all the whining and litigating in the world, they seem to be here to stay, at least for now.
Instead, this week’s lead story talks about individuals in fields such as publishing and fine art who have survived the boot camp that is building up your résumé and graduated into the workforce. This is the select group of individuals who turned college careers into college and careers, holding down part-time jobs while maintaining full course loads and writing theses.
But let’s all relax, if only for a moment. What has attending school in New York City done for us? For one thing, it has given us endless opportunities that our friends in more insular campuses could never have had.
It’s true that living 20 minutes away from Midtown Manhattan (depending on whether you catch the 2/3 or stick to the 1 train) also comes with its heavy burdens—a new normal wherein one doesn’t have a choice but to take on a never-ending slew of internships.
Then again—are we justified in feeling nostalgic for an isolated college campus that we never had?