Every academic adviser on a college campus stresses the importance of a good internship. Jessica Padron, a 20-year-old sophomore at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas took this suggestion to heart. She applied for an internship with United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in Washington, D.C., which is ranked the least affordable city in America. While she beat out thousands of other applicants and has been offered the unpaid internship, she has embarked on an nontraditional path to make the offer come to fruition. Padron set up an Indiegogo crowdfunding page and is asking for public donations so she can afford the opportunity. So far, she has raised over $5,000 of the $6,500 she's looking to live off of during the course of the internship. The recent popularity of crowdfunding has become a feasible short-term solution to the complications surrounding unpaid internships.
Crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter are commonly used by actors, directors, and other creatives looking to fund their projects with the help of the public. As the controversy surrounding whether or not interns deserve to be paid continues to develop, more and more companies including The Nation have started paying interns after increasing public pressure to do so. Unpaid internships, however, continue to exist. They put students in the difficult position of having to decide between accepting a prestigious offer and remaining financially stable.
Crowdfunding is the short-term solution to this dilemma. While it may be difficult for some prospective interns to make their case for donations, crowdfunding offers students the chance to afford the internship of their dreams. The $6,500 Padron is asking for is minuscule compared to many of the projects on Indiegogo, and those donating probably feel better about sending their money to a young woman working toward her dream than they do about financing a film. It's unclear how long crowdfunding will remain a popular, but for the sake of college students pursuing their dreams, I hope it sticks around long enough for the internship market to stabilize.
If you would like to donate and help send Jessica Padron to Washington, D.C. her Indiegogo account can be found here.