The Blog Formerly Known As Practical Paralegalism
When I read about Canadian paralegal student Brent Jackson’s inability to graduate on time due to the poor economy, I thought his program’s requirement to complete 490 hours of paid work in order to be allowed to continue in the program seemed a bit unreasonable. That’s over 12 weeks of full-time salaried employment, not an easy summer gig to land even in a booming economy.
Brent Jackson thought he did everything right.
The Aurora student started looking for a summer job in December. In his third year of a four-year paralegal program at community college, he needs 490 hours in paid career placement to return to class in the fall.
The economy, however, isn’t co-operating.
After sending out 150 to 200 resumes, he ended up with four interviews, but only offers of unpaid work. No summer hiring because of the bad economy, he was told.
He asked college administrators to change the requirements, to let students who couldn’t find a placement hold off until next summer when, with luck, the economy improves. But no go.
It isn’t fair, says his dad, Jim.
“If you don’t land a paid position, you can’t come back in September. So what are you going to do, become a dropout? You see yourself with the clock ticking and you’ve invested $45,000 (in college fees) and now it’s going to go down the drain. It’s alienating for kids and discouraging.”
I agree with Brent’s dad. At least allow the students to satisfy the work requirement with an unpaid apprenticeship if they cannot locate a paid position. While anyone would prefer a salary, sometimes a nonsalaried internship is the only way to get desperately-needed experience.