No Pay, No Gain

Another mainstream media, this time in the United Kingdom, talks about unfair internships. Josh Freeman Berthoud signs “No Pay, No Gain” in the Guardian and has this angle:

And yet what’s the point of striving to ensure equal academic opportunities for all people, regardless of socio-economic class, when once they leave university the traditional wealth and class barriers kick in and poorer people are deprived entry to the most prestigious industries?

Josh correctly observes that the problem with unfair internships is not that the tasks are menial, but the opposite. These internships are real jobs, only with no or little salary.

(…) these are some of the most common industries where you are likely to find interns working long hours, performing difficult, demanding and important tasks for little or no money.

It’s refreshing that most of the comments are supportive of Josh’s (and this blog’s) opinion. In the US, it all too often goes the way of accusing the intern for taking the job, being fatalist about it, saying that it’s a win-win — basically, just not seeing the problem of un(der)paid labour. If you are in the UK and aware of legislation that may prevent unfair internships, please let us know and we’ll post it on this website.

Finally, Josh tells an interesting insider story that helps explaining why we hear so little about it in the media:

I wanted to write a piece on this very subject a few years ago, but the national paper – with whom I was an intern at the time – told me that they were aware of the problem but that they wouldn’t be able to print the story, as they were as guilty as the next firm.

So much for the “liberal media”. This means that blogs will have to take up the fight.


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