Internships Hit the Auction Block: Going once, going twice, sold!

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on May 14, 2009

Okay, so this really has absolutely nothing to do with b-school, but it got us thinking.

Across this great land, college students—even MBAs!—are facing the prospect of spending a summer twiddling their thumbs because there are no internships to be found. Now along comes Arriana Huffington, founder and chief provocateur of the Huffington Post, who is—now get this—auctioning off an internship to work at HuffPo for the summer. That’s right, for a mere $13,000 (the latest bid on the HuffPo auction) you too can catch a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a media empire in the making. The money, in case you’re wondering, goes to benefit the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.

The Huffington Post isn’t the only one auctioning off internships, either. Lindsay Wolfington, music supervisor for hit TV shows “One Tree Hill” and “Ghost Whisperer,” started the bidding on a 1 month internship at $250. And Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner is auctioning off a 2-day-a-week internship at Us Weekly magazine in New York City. The high bid so far? $275.

All of which got us thinking: what if business employers did the same thing? The upside: if internships were a profit center as opposed to a cost center, there would probably be a lot more internships to go around. The downside: you’d have to pay for them—and not only would you have to cough up some cash, you’d have to cough up more than the next desperate student.

So what would you pay for an intership at, say, one of the big investment banks? McKinsey? Google? Is paying for an internship ludicrous? Demeaning? Okay as long as the bidding doesn’t exceed the limit on your Amex card? Is something like this even viable in the business world, or does it require a truly desperate industry like journalism to make it work?

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Read daily reports from BusinessWeek editors and reporters Louis Lavelle, Geoff Gloeckler, Alison Damast and Francesca Di Meglio and boost your chances of getting into your best-fit B-school.

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