Unpaid internships provide opportunities for students and early career individuals to gain work experience in a field of their interest. In lieu of payment for their labor, interns are compensated by gaining deeper knowledge of the field or industry as well as critical networking opportunities. Completing an unpaid work experience is nearly unavoidable for early career individuals to gain the experience required to stand out within a competitive, passion-driven field (Bailey et al., 2022). Deciding to begin a career in marine science with an unpaid position can be an exclusionary point for people from non-affluent socioeconomic backgrounds, and the stress experienced from a lack of financial and professional support can lead to individuals exiting the field in the early stages of their career. Unpaid internships impede diverse recruitment and contribute to the overwhelming lack of diversity in the ocean sciences (Bernard and Cooperdock, 2018, Figure 1). Adequately compensating individuals entering the field for their work would increase diversity in entry level positions and promote the development of early career researchers. These individuals would then be more likely to advance into higher level, permanent positions, thereby improving diversity in all career levels throughout marine science (Fournier et al., 2019; Osiecka et al., 2022).

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