Drake: Grow in debt with a summer internship

Doug Reed

The internship has transformed from something that was once optional in college education to today’s requirement for success in the outside world. I am pursuing a career in the art museum field, so it was obvious that I needed some real museum experience prior to graduating. So I stayed down here on the Main Line for the summer and got an internship at a local Philadelphia museum. I choose to work at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, which provided a wonderful and exciting experience, which I am sure will definitely help both my resume and future job competence.

So what could go wrong with a great summer job at a great institution? The fact that I had to pay ever so dearly for something that I “shouldn’t leave college without” comes to mind. I needed the summer credit in order to graduate on time, so I had register for the six-credit summer history internship, which cost roughly $2,000. I knew that the Villanova program would cost money, but that high? The very fact that Villanova is not really doing anything to aid my internship irks me, but rather outside institution is educating me, in my case PAFA. There was a research paper I had to write which was not even graded but only given an “S” for satisfactory. There was supposed to be an on-site inspection which never occurred. So essentially, I paid two grand for Villanova to shuffle some papers around and enter six credits on my transcript, no lectures, no seminars and no mandatory meetings. A well-trained monkey could do that.

So why the high price? Well, I assume this is the cost per credit for summer classes, through Villanova should take into account that an internship is not a regular class. Now it would be quite different if they had lectures for all the Greater Philadelphia area interns, seminars to discuss our experience and goals, you know, some interaction. For basically not doing anything, Villanova is certainly charging a lofty amount.

But wait, there’s more. Not only did I have to pay for the internship “course,” but also rent for summer residence. Housing cost me roughly $800 for two and half months, which isn’t too bad for the Main Line. Conditions were horrible conditions but cheap; if I had stayed on-campus the price would have been doubled or even tripled.

In my opinion, Villanova should do one of the following in order to properly educate their internship students with reasonable charges: either keep the same program setup but with a reduced charge, or keep the same charges but expand the internship program to contain lectures and scheduled classes (and use distance-learning for those interns outside the Philly area). The six credits, room, board, and transportation cost me close to $5,000. Did I mention my internship was unpaid, as are most liberal arts internships? Don’t get me wrong, I loved my internship, and I may go back next summer as a volunteer only. And by working at a museum I became quite sure that I have found a career that I enjoy very much.

If you plan to get a summer internship, either forget about getting credit and find another way to get the credits you need to graduate, such as overloading during one semester. Or get an internship during the regular academic semesters so that it is factored into the tuition anyway. The Villanova internship program taught me one important lesson: that extortion can lie in the most innocent of places.