There’s an interesting discussion going on at Model Mayhem, a site about photography and modelling, about the legality of internships. Unpaid internships are common in this business and a quote from UnfairInternships.com got the conversation started.
If someone wants/accepts an unfair internships, it’s their own business.
This someone is putting everybody else one step behind. The fact is that this practice is endemic. People who do not want to take an internship now have to do so because they compete for an actual job against people who have internship experience. It’s a collective action problem.
An internship is a great way to learn and get into the business.
That’s very true. And so is a first job. An unfair internship is not better than a first job to learn a profession. The only reason why the former replaces the latter is competition between new entrants on the job market that lowers the bar.
Congressmen have interns.
It would not make it legal, but if they are offering unfair internships it may explain why they are not acting much against this form of labor exploitation. This being said, I am not privvy to the contracts between interns and congressmen and I don’t know what is the salary offered.
Not all internships are bad.
Also very true. This is why this website is about unfair internships. When internships are shaped like apprenticeships, they are a very good way to learn without being exploited. When they’re paid a legal wage, it’s just a job.
Is volunteering evil then?
No. The difference is generally that the organization does not derive a profit from your work.