You should be grateful

July 26, 2007

Darn, I missed this CATO posting more than a year ago. Listen kids, Will Wilkinson is reminding you of an important lesson in life: you should be grateful to even have the chance to work for free! After all, isn’t it a bit materialistic on your part to ask for money on top of the chance to get experience and contacts?

I know! That’s exactly what I was telling Steve Jobs: you’re so lucky to be the boss of the greatest company in the world, transform the computer and music industry and now the phone industry. No wonder you’re getting only a dollar a year! I think everybody should follow your example and forgo their salary because after all, they should be grateful to have a job at all. A temperate place to stay and, sometimes, sit all day, coworkers that can be friends, a shot at proving the world that you can work, and what more can you get out of a job? No, not a salary!

Hey, it’s competitive out there and, spread out across companies as you are, there’s not a chance that you will get organized. On top of it, kids-with-the-pillow-face, you haven’t proven the slightest bit yet that you deserve an entry-level salary. For that reason, the new entry-level salary should be $0 (on either a monthly or annual basis, depending on merit). Then, after a few years (exact number to be decided), you may get a chance to earn a better salary. It’s up to you to be the best and you’ll be able to pay the grocery. That’s how you raise productivity. Oh, and as a corollary, all people who are promoted or switch jobs will not be paid for any new task that they were not performing before, that is not until they have proven over a certain period that they are good at it.

Don’t argue: there’s always a good rationale at hand as to why people with no money should receive less and rich people should receive more.

(by way of Generation Debt)


An intern takes the matter into his own hands

July 25, 2007

An intern has decided to find out how to report anonymously an employer that violates the FLSA. It seems clear that with 25 unpaid employees, his employer has put herself in an illegal situation. We will keep you posted of major developments.

We need more of these interns aware of those situations who take the time to report their employers if the situation is ever to improve.

Update: He got the most unexpected answer: the Department doesn’t even seem aware of the law! “For unpaid internships and volunteer work are not considered employment relationships since they are usually at-will and not compensated. U.S. Department of Labor regulations address employment relationships between employers and employees.” He’s pursuing the issue. This is getting even more interesting.

How about $3100 a week?

July 25, 2007

Here’s a domain where internships are not unfair and mostly no unpaid: law.

It’s very good news for recent law graduates, but I’m afraid that, put in the wrong hands, it will be used as an example of how youngsters are spoiled today. It would be missing the big picture of the unfair internships path to the job market.

How much can you expect to earn on an internship?

July 24, 2007

The answer is $15.99 according to a survey from the National Association of College and Employers. That’s the average hourly wage to an intern at the bachelor’s degree level. And if you’re an engineer in the making, you’re in luck as you have the highest average—$17.12 an hour.

That is, if you’re paid — these numbers are only averaging paid internships. It is a reminder to all unpaid interns of what their opportunity cost is: $15.99 an hour, $128 a day, $640 a week and $2750 a month. That’s 2.7 times the recently hiked minimum wage.

Viva Las Vegas

July 22, 2007

UNLV LogoHurray for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, that will launch this fall the “Rebel Intern” program that will ensure that interns do not get abused by employers. This program covers interns that do not receive credit from the university. Since there is little monitoring of these internships, students are more vulnerable. The program “provides students an on-campus advocate if an employer is not living up to his end of the bargain.”

Paul Cardino, from UNLV, explains: “If an employer migrates away from the goals of the student, it’s a way of redirecting the program. We advocate for the student.” It’s good news as interns have little to no bargaining power (the good old “don’t take the job if you’re not happy!”) and no way of getting organized since they are spread across a multitude of organizations. They need this kind of support.

In South Africa too

July 21, 2007

Most news covered here are from the US, so I thought interesting to link to this South African story from an intern who advises employers on how to do it best.

Internships should be strategically integrated into a company’s itinerary so that when an intern is taken in, he or she knows exactly what to do, why they are doing it and how it fits into the ‘bigger scheme of things’. They shouldn’t be there just to make coffee or push papers.

And they should be honestly paid, if I may. Overall, a good perspective.