Do you want an internship? It’ll cost you

January 28, 2009

The mainstream media (liberal, remember!) has one more priceless – or rather costly – story about unfair internships. The Wall Street Journal praises programs that ask for money in return for placements in unpaid internships.

But parents say the fees are a small price for giving their children a toehold in a treacherous job market.

How much more do we need to understand that we have a collective action problem? A parent that gives a “toehold” to his kid has just put every other kid behind and other parents will be pushed to do the same until everybody is paying to get a job and we’re back at square one. What do you do then to get ahead? You pay more. That’s how you go from accepting a lower pay, to accepting something below the minimum wage, to accepting an unpaid job and now to paying to get one.

But Megan, then 20, had already applied for 25 summer internships and hadn’t received any replies.

Do we need any more proof? Maybe this.

The program they used (…) is one of a handful of for-profit internship companies that have sprung up in the past few years.


Gina Philips, Los Angeles, a consultant to the Alzheimer’s Association, says demand from wealthy parents has led employers in the entertainment industry to create internships that otherwise wouldn’t exist, just to help raise money.

And I spared you all the justifications that finally, these pay-to-work schemes are making the job market more fair to the less fortunate. Lucky you.


Stuff White People Like: Unpaid Internships

January 15, 2009

From Stuff White People Like:

In most of the world when a person works long hours without pay, it is referred to as “slavery” or “forced labor.” For white people this process is referred to as an internship and is considered an essential stage in white development.

If all goes according to plan, an internship will end with an offer of a job that pays $24,000 per year and will consist entirely of the same tasks they were recently doing for free. In fact, the transition to full time status results in the addition of only one new responsibility: feeling superior to the new interns.

It’s not because it’s funny that we laugh…

Excepting Areas Related to Compensation

January 14, 2009

It’s really not that difficult to understand why the mainstream media talks so little about unfair internships.

All aspects of the official Employee Handbook also apply to interns at the [New York] Sun, excepting areas related to compensation.

Would the Employee Handbook (capitalized, wow) prevent an intern at the New York Sun to write an article about unfair internships?

DC: Protection for unpaid interns. Not against exploitation though.

January 12, 2009

A D.C. City Council Member and Law School professor is taking on the issue of unpaid internships! After a lawsuit for sexual harassment by an unpaid intern was dismissed because she was not a employee under the law, the lawmaker wants to change the definition of an employee.

“The bill is fairly straightforward; it simply adds unpaid interns to the definition of an employee,” Cheh said. “I can’t imagine anyone who would oppose that.”

… as long as it doesn’t normalize further a situation where employees are exploited.

“We’re the intern capital of the world. The recent trend of unpaid internships has become so commonplace that there are hordes of our students working as unpaid interns,” Cheh said. “The idea that they’re unprotected against abusive behavior is unacceptable.”

What about lack of a salary, for a start? Thousands and thousands of interns are exploited in the US by not being offered compensation for their contribution – this epidemic should be a priority. There’s no problem with protecting people from abusive behavior. But this law sees the tree and misses the forest.