How can the financial crisis benefit internships?

February 8, 2009

If internships are done according to the law,”the employer provides the training and derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the student”. You would expect that during a recession, employers can’t afford to train interns while cutting off staff. Then how can it be that we ran into this quote in the Columbia Spectator:

“As there are fewer jobs to go around, there are more internships available”

Because unfair internships are un(der)paid jobs, not proper trainings, that’s why. And since students compete against each other to enter the job market, they are even more desperate these days and will lower their standards.

As jobs become more scarce, the importance of internships seems to have grown, as applicants feel a greater need to polish their resumes. “I see students who feel that one internship is not enough.”

And once everybody has their two internships, this will become “two is not enough” and then three. Where will it stop?

Unfair internships are a large-scale illegal practice hidden in plain sight.


Why You Should Pay Your Intern

May 3, 2008

Please bookmark this one: accountants explain to the world why interns should be paid. I’m not offended that they argue from the perspective of the employer, quite the opposite. The rule that providing better wages gets you better staff is pretty much accepted everywhere – everywhere that does not offer and unfair internship, that is.

Some good stats:

In a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, nearly all responding organizations who use their internship programs as part of their college recruiting effort pay their interns.

And why not mention that interns themselves get more out it:

NACE’s study of the students from the Class of 2007 found that students who reported dissatisfaction with their internships tended to be in unpaid programs.

And what do they mean by “paid”? A stipend to buy a muffin, a coffee and a bus ticket (one-way) maybe? Not so:

Overall, employers reported offering their undergraduate interns an average of $16.33 per hour — and nearly $25 per hour for interns at the master’s degree level.

The data is aligned with the law which is aligned with ethics which are aligned with progress. Now that’s an opportunity your business won’t want to miss.

Should You Pay Your Student Intern?

May 2, 2008

Any serious article that looks closely into this question comes to the same conclusion: unless you’re in the business of training people because you’re a nice person, then you should pay your staff, be they called interns, employees, associates or GOs. Business Week comes to the same conclusion. Money quote:

“You just have to remember that, unless you are interested in really offering training to somebody in the field, you are not going to get cheap labor.”

Needless to say, the arguments of those who don’t pay their staff are weak:

“There are an abundance of students who want that type of hands-on client experience.”

Thankfully, the US law is not so naive:

In a recent InternBridge survey of 12,084 students who completed internships in 2007, 18% said they didn’t receive compensation or receive college credit for their services. “That’s flat-out illegal,” Bottner says.

And one more nail in the coffin of credits-for-pay schemes:

Complicating matters, some employers ask that the student receive college credit for their work in order to avoid having to pay them, a demand that puts students from low- or middle-income backgrounds at a disadvantage. It means students have to pay their college for that course credit, a cost that can add up to several thousand dollars.

They use the word “model” rather than “scheme”, but they are saying the same thing as this blog:

It’s a model that is becoming increasingly controversial within the higher education community, where career-services professionals say students should be paid at least minimum wage.

Is it clear enough now?

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.


Unpaid Interns Slaves to the System

March 4, 2008

It may not exactly be mainstream media, but “the largest fully independent daily campus newspaper in the nation” had an editorial this week titled “Unpaid interns slaves to the system” (The Badger Herald, Ryan Greenfield, March 3, 2008) and it brought up several issues with unpaid internships, like fairness:

Only those students with a form of external support such as parents or student loans can afford to take on an unpaid internship, especially one in another city with very high costs of living.

There is a good moral case to be made for equal opportunity, even though getting paid for one’s work should be a sufficient reason to justify fair internships. Here’s another important point about internships: if getting one is important to differentiate oneself, what happens when they become widespread?

You have to have had internships on your résumé to be able to get one.

The author brings up an interesting statistics, however without reference:

A 1998 survey also found that internship quality is correlated with whether it pays or not. It makes sense: Why should I put my heart into work I’m not even being paid for?

Unfortunately, the editorial falls in the trap of complaining about mind-numbing work given to interns — which applies only to a portion of internships and don’t address the actual problem of working in an actual job for free, against common sense and the law. Still, it deserves praise for bringing up the issue.