As internships get harder and harder to come by, forget the idea that you'll actually get paid for one: Increasingly, college students are the ones paying for the internship. The Washington Post investigates the phenomenon in DC, where the supposedly nonprofit "internship program" industry has been thriving (millions of dollars in revenue, six-figure salaries for top employees) for years. For anywhere from $3,400 without housing to $9,000 with housing, students get a guaranteed summer of work experience, night classes, and tours.
Many of these programs claim to have connections, including the ability to place students at federal agencies. One website shows students in front of a State Department sign, but a rep for that agency claims prospective interns can only apply through an internal process. Despite some doubts about the concept of paying to do work, students who've been through the program see it as an investment in their future. Says one, "Living in the real world, even just for two months, is critical."