Do as I say, not as I do

April 16, 2008

This has to be the biggest April fool of the month, only two weeks late. No, it must be something from the Onion: a presentation on unfair labor practices followed by an internship fair. And, guess what: Verite’s internships are… unpaid!

A campaign against unfair labor practices fueled by unpaid interns. Let’s hear some Barry White:

Cause you keep tellin’ me this and tellin’ me that
You say there’s a lesson that you wanna teach
Well, here I am, baby, practice what you preach

If someone is attending this presentation, could you ask the following question: “Do you see a contradiction between your campaign against unfair labor practices and your own practice of not paying some of your staff?”


How to find a job? Go unpaid!

April 16, 2008

This Forbes article on how to score an internship gives pretty standard advice on how to find a job, except for two pieces of advice that should ring a bell:

Don’t Be Afraid To Go Unpaid -Part-time internships and for-credit programs might burn holes in your pockets faster than smoking in bed, but unpaid positions will open up full-time opportunities after graduation

Target Places That Won’t Turn You Down – Show up at your local college or university campus and ask if there are openings for research assistants. Unpaid interns are usually welcome at law firms, government offices (like a state senator’s) and local chambers of commerce or think tanks. Just show up, résumé in hand, and be persistent until they tell you who can use you. Somebody’s bound to need free labor. And, with any luck, you can parlay the unpaid grunt work this summer into a compensated gig for summer 2009.

See, that’s great: if you go unpaid, you may get paid the next time. And if everybody has an internship experience, then go unpaid for your first two jobs and it’s very very likely that your third job will be paid! Now, that’s how you start a career!

Priceless internships hit student’s pockets hard

April 13, 2008

Catherine Seraphin isn’t too thrilled with what awaits her this summer: an unpaid internship and a job to make up for it. And she introduces a word that fits all too well the employers’ attitude: cocky.

Giving students an opportunity for an unpaid internship almost makes companies look cocky. It seems like they’re saying “Well, experiencing work at [insert organization name here] is so fantastic, you don’t need to get paid. Putting our name on your résumé is good enough payment.”

And for those who disagree, I offer this: why don’t you give up your own paycheck for the prestige and pleasure of working for your current employer?

Unpaid internships are unfair

April 12, 2008

How not to love an article from the Valley Vanguard (MI) with such a title? It contains an intriguing statistics, without reference.

Ten years ago, a study done on internships found that 60 percent of the mostly unpaid internships were attained by students coming form households that made over $100,000, which was about 20 percent of college students at the time.

Anyone knows that study? I couldn’t find it on the web.

The article is right to make the point that a job should be paid, period.

…the last time I checked, this country did have a minimum wage. You’d think these businesses would, at minimum, offer their interns that.


Internship prices too steep

April 11, 2008

The Lariat Online (Bayor U, TX) reminds students of the price of getting credits for an internship.

Most internship sponsors, instead of paying their interns, require them to work for only university credit. Unfortunately, the price of university credit is high — very high. For those whose majors offer an internship class, the cost is $986 per credit hour. Internship classes are worth three hours, so that’s $2,958 to pay for an internship that’s probably unpaid and for experience that you aren’t gaining directly from the university itself. That’s an expensive summer.

It’s expensive, yes. And maybe a little ridiculous?

Work for free? Suck it up!

April 5, 2008

So you’re about to enter the job market and you’re told that things have changed and that nowadays, your first job is called an “internship” and it means you’ll work for free? Sarah Caldwel has some wise advice for you:

In any case, my message to students facing the call to free labor: stop moanin’ and groanin’. Suck it up, read the scripts and answer the phones in your heated/air conditioned office, and go blog about the injustice of it all

I can’t start to say how wrong this is. Would Sarah Caldwell give this advice to anyone facing an injustice? “My message to women who are paid less than their men counterpart is this: suck it up, you’ll make enough to make a living anyway. Go complain about it a the knitting club!” Or maybe “My message to kids who are bullied is this: suck it up, you’ll get your degree anyway and it’ll make you tougher. Go cry to your mother about it.” The dismissive and paternalistic tone is as upsetting as the advice that’s given.

Students facing unfair internships have every right and a civic duty to denounce them. Apparently however, this situation will be a fact of life as long as a fairly powerless and divided section of the population is affected. And Sarah Caldwell will have done nothing about it.