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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We know unpaid internships keep scores of talented, cash-strapped students from gaining experience in industries like the arts and media, yet scores of internship opportunities continue to expect young people to work for free.

The big picture: Some 40% of internships at for-profit companies are unpaid. Many employers still see these summer jobs as a "rite of passage," but all they do is deepen class divides.

Driving the news: The prevalence of unpaid internships in media sparked an online debate Monday after Jane Slater, a reporter for the NFL Network, tweeted in support of unpaid internships, saying, "There is a reason not everyone makes it in this business. I don’t have time for those of you who don’t understand grind."

  • Her comment garnered responses from journalists across the country who shared their own experiences of having to get second or third jobs on the side in order to complete unpaid internships or having to forego meals because a summer gig wasn't paying.

The message was clear: Unpaid internships are only possible with a great deal of privilege. Students who can take these internships either have family money to pay rent and living expenses or come from wealthy universities that can provide hefty stipends.

  • Those students are likely to be wealthy and white.

Why it matters: Unpaid internships are early exacerbators of inequality. When students can't find paid opportunities in the fields they want to work in, they choose different careers. As a result, the arts and media are overwhelmingly white.

The bottom line, per the New York Times' Astead Herndon: "[I]ve come to learn the ppl who think being broke for an unpaid internship was some fun or some necessary experience usually weren't broke. being broke is not fun. the people saying this were often playing poverty w/ in-the-wings family money — it was all heroes journey, no stakes."

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Blockades and ballots: A wild day in the post-Brexit U.K.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

British naval vessels dispatched to break a French blockade, Scottish nationalists attempting to break away from the U.K., and working class voters in the northeast breaking for the Conservatives after voting Labour for six decades.

Why it matters: That was just one day in the topsy turvy reality of post-Brexit Britain.

S.C. governor orders end to federal COVID-related unemployment benefits

Photo: Micah Green/Bloomberg via Getty Images

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) on Thursday ordered the termination of the state's participation in all federal, pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs.

Driving the news: McMaster cited labor shortages, but some experts say it's the job climate and not unemployment benefits that is determining the pace at which people are returning to work.

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Mixed response in Europe to Biden's vaccine patents bombshell

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Biden administration surprised the world last night by coming out in favor of waiving patents for coronavirus vaccines — but Europe is divided on the issue.

What they're saying: European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen said Brussels would be willing to discuss it; French President Emmanuel Macron said he backed the U.S. position, but a German government spokesman said the proposal would cause "severe complications" for vaccine production.