No, interns are not cheap or free labor. Even the Wall Street Journal, not exactly a socialist rag, is explaining so.
In addition, an unpaid intern shouldn’t do work that provides an “immediate advantage” to the company. For example, an intern who shadows a professional, completes educational tasks that the company won’t use for business or is lectured on certain aspects of a job isn’t performing work that the company can benefit from. But “if you are being asked to do…clerical tasks that would normally be done by a paid employee, that’s generally not going to be legal,” says Jay Zweig, an employment attorney with the firm Bryan Cave in Phoenix.
Soon enough, “everybody’s doing it” won’t be a good excuse anymore.