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Unpaid Interns: Real World Work Or Just Free Labor?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Artistic Skaters, Nov 17, 2011.

  1. Artistic Skaters

    Artistic Skaters Drawing Figures

    Interns: Real World Work Or Just Free Labor?
    Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act

    I've read in other recent articles that the prime internships frequently go to children of the connected & affluent students, since Joe college boy who's working one or two jobs to pay his own way through school in the midwest can't afford the high rent & living expenses needed for an unpaid internship in NYC or DC. There is also a growing backlash against internships due to the dismal job market & businesses taking advantage of students eager to gain some job experience at any cost possible.

    Have organizations & businesses lost sight of the purpose of internships? Discuss.
  2. overedge

    overedge Janny uber

    That is a really interesting story - thanks for posting it.

    If you are cynical like me and think that a lot of companies are generally trying to squeeze the most work out of their employees for the least cost, then, no, they haven't lost sight of the purpose of internships :p But I'm surprised that unpaid interns were allowed to work on this film, because the film industry is fairly unionized. Is there some clause in the production unions' collective agreement that allows internships for training purposes? If the interns are doing the same work as people being paid, then I think these guys might have a very strong case for their lawsuit.

    I am always :eek: when I see ads for unpaid internships, particularly when they're at companies that do very well financially, and could certainly afford to pay at least an honorarium or minimum wage for the position. And IME a lot of interns end up doing crappy work that they could do at any company, and don't get a lot of meaningful experience of the industry.
  3. Oreo

    Oreo Active Member

    Years ago internships were part of the training process. A friend of mine went through the Peter Stark program at USC, which trains producers for the cinematic industry. She had to intern as part of the program, and she was one of the few who were eventually hired.

    But like anything else in our society today, the idea of internships has been taken advantage of and is outright abusive in some cases. You see every kind of business out there wanting unpaid interns (read that as free labor) with promises of exposure and possible employment. It's a crock.
  4. skateycat

    skateycat Minecraft Widow

    My MLIS program has a structured internship program which ensures that the original intent of internships is followed. Of course, to be part of that program, you have to be willing to spend three course units (we're restricted to 43 units) and tuition and fees.

    I decided to work something out on my own with the special collections room of the local university library. It mostly worked out well, except for the fact that I didn't have the sense to make it time-limited, I made it project based, and the project took me a long time. But I learned a lot and made some valuable connections.
  5. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

    I remember getting an email from my University when I went back telling us to be very careful of places offering students unpaid internships. Everything should be checked through carefully with the University. Apparently places were trying to save money in any way possible and this meant lying about internships or having unpaid internships that should have been paid. Not only were students working for free when they should have been getting paid but you can bet they laid off someone first so instead of 1 person with a small internship income you end up with 2 people with no income at all. No wonder the economy is tanking. People are pathetic.