Time: Working for Free

Time magazine has an article about unfair internships with a lead about people who take them many years after they graduated. As one of the people quoted in the article said, the rules are the same regardless of age, so this blog has never paid closer attention to this phenomenon.

The article has an interesting source to measure the increase in unfair internships:

But in the Great Recession, with employment rate hovering near 10%, job-search sites like CareerBuilder and Monster.com are reporting increases in the number of postings for internships.

I had a look on Monster.com and there are about 1,000 internships available at the moment, many of which appear like normal jobs at for-profits companies. Someone is playing with fire:

Companies are often eager for the extra set of hands. Michael Schmidt, an employment attorney in New York City, has seen an uptick in recent months in private employers calling him to find out if they can bring in unpaid interns as a way to cut costs. His answer: volunteering at for-profit companies is, legally, a no-no.

At least, these companies are checking whether it’s too good to be true. Yes, it is. Some nevertheless go for the deal, despite the illegality, the unfairness, the downsides for themselves and the social damage.

Of course, there’s little incentive for employers or interns to blow the whistle, says Robert Trumble, a management professor and the director of the Virginia Labor Studies Center at Virginia Commonwealth University. Workers want experience and the connections that come along with it. (…) The perceived value of that kind of experience helps explain why there’s little organized resistance to unpaid internships in the U.S.

And what will the interns do on their own anyway? Actually, there are things that they can do. The laws need to be enforced.

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