Be exploited to be exploited

March 23, 2007

Students charged charged “almost $1,000 for writing them “internship-focused” résumés and cover letters”?! When are we going to reach the bottom of the barrel?

The competition to get an internship is no longer sane nor reasonable. Writing a résumé is not a $1000 thing and certainly not for a résumé. I used to do this and I was charging $20, with very good results. Search the Internet, buy a book, but for heaven’s sake, please don’t give a penny to those guys so that they get you an unpaid job.

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School credits, really?

March 17, 2007

Not to justify the crime, but what are the National Archives doing with a 40-year old unpaid intern? It would be amusing if the said intern-criminal turned the tables against its former “employer” and drag the National Archives in court for illegally refusing to pay him.


Unpaid interns struggle to make ends meet

March 12, 2007

The media may be too this or not enough that, but they surely don’t pay enough attention to an illegal practice as widespread as unfair internships. That’s why it’s a treat to see the Christian Science Monitor take an interest in the issue by publishing “Unpaid interns struggle to make ends meet” (by Tom A. Peter, March 5, 2007). The article is mainly focused on how unfair it is for those who can’t afford to work for free.

There are a few interesting quotes.

  • “Internships are steadily becoming – if not already – an institutionalized part of the college experience and a requisite for entry-level work.” Maybe some day it will be widespread enough for a change to occur.
  • “According to a survey conducted by [Vault] last year, 36 percent of students said they were not paid for their internships.” What if they put the bar at “less than minimum wage”?
  • “If you want to break in at the entry level, you have to take a vow of poverty” Why is it expected from interns, but not from others?
  • “I think there’s a tendency to say, ‘OK, kiddos, just suck it up!’ “
  • About universities offering a stipend: “These [stipends] are a fantastic place to start,” says Neff. “But I think it needs to come from companies who have a responsibility to these young people.” Exactly! Why is it that these jobs have to be subsidized? How are we supposed to accept that companies exploit their workforce to increase their profits? Couldn’t they just pay them for their contribution?

And finally, my favourite:

  • “Increasingly, companies are reevaluating the legality of maintaining unpaid interns. “More and more companies are not offering these [unpaid internships] because the boundary [between legal and illegal unpaid internships] is close,” says John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an international outplacement firm.”

And if this is true:

  • “Because internships are so important to many students, Neff believes that students would not speak out for fear of damaging future career options.”

… then I invite anybody with such an experience to share it here. It will be a start, a way to assess the scale of the issue and to feel a certain bond.

Good news: the article has been republished on Lawyers.com and CivilRights.org among others.


Small in Japan

March 11, 2007

Apparently, it’s also illegal in Japan to offer an unfair internship. The difference is that, there, you will get in trouble for doing it.

Six Vietnamese women are suing a Japanese sub-contractor of Toyota that wasn’t paying them the minimum wage during their so-called internship. It’s interesting to note that they were part of a program of industrial training. Let’s hope that thee results will be less illegal practice, not less international cooperation.

If our Japanese readers are interested to tell us about the labor law in their country, we will gladly share the information.


Money flows upstream

March 9, 2007

Finally, some money for internships! Wait.

Forget paid internships – they pay to get them

We’re hitting rock bottom.