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End of unpaid internships?

Discussion in 'Tilted Philosophy, Politics, and Economics' started by genuinemommy, Jun 13, 2013.

  1. I honestly think that an unpaid internship is akin to a 'job shadow.' I believe that, in the right circumstances (and assuming that the employer is actually teaching the intern something and isn't just keeping them busy to 'give them a taste of the environment' like my last 'internship' was), it could be incredibly beneficial to both parties. The way that Lordeden does unpaid internships is exactly how I envision them happening.

    I will say that paid internships are always preferable (obviously), but if I could find a way to pay all of my bills, fulfill my academic obligations, and still have some time left over to have an unpaid-internship-like position in the form of volunteering or job shadowing (or simply just interviewing/asking questions), I'd do that in a heartbeat. For me, it's about the knowledge that I gain that I can apply later on in my life.
    I'm extremely lucky to be where I am now, in an internship with a company that could potentially 'add a lot of weight' to my resume (and still making enough to pay my bills, for the most part), and I realize that not everyone is so lucky.

    One of my first knee-jerk reactions at first was 'Nobody's forcing them to do these internships.' Then I thought about it for a second... if I tried to get a job without having any real-world experience I'd get eaten alive in the job hunt. It's really terrible that, in some situations, some students feel like there is no other way to 'get their foot in the door' other than making the sacrifice to take an unpaid internship (where they might very well likely be treated like dirt and given no real experience) just to say that they've had internship experience.
     
  2. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member

    Location:
    Toronto
    Those philistines?

    Fuck those guys.

    Fuck them right in the ear.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Bodkin van Horn

    Bodkin van Horn One of the Four Horsewomyn of the Fempocalypse

    redux, since you're clearly not going to answer any of my questions, I'll just link to this:

    Young College Graduates: Economic Implications of Unpaid Internships | CEPR Blog

     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2013
  4. Lordeden

    Lordeden Part of the Problem

    Location:
    Redneckhell, NC
    I didn't state this before, but I did do an free internship for 3 months in college. I was lucky in the fact that my parents helped me out through college (I had a college fund that that was doled out to help with rent\bills), so my internship life was different. I worked 40 hours a week at the job (unpaid) and then worked at subway to make my food/personal bills/entertainment money. I was given basic training in the IT dept (One lady) and then let loose with list of broken networking things. I was offered a PT position after the internship was finished but in my dumbassness I turned it down.

    While that internship never got me anything more than line item on my resume, I learned a epic shit-ton about business IT support. I broke things (I have NO idea why they let an intern work on their computers unsupervised) and then learned how to fix them when users were breathing down your neck. The skills I didn't learn in college were taught to me in a live environment. I would have never got that job if it was paid, it was only an opportunity I got because I was willing to work for free.

    Working for free sucks, but being inexperienced in a field full of people with experience sucks even more. I was willing to trade my time for free to learn the ropes in my trade of choice. I don't think internships are for everyone but for the people who somehow manage to do it, it's worth it in the long run. I know my co-op lady (the supervisor over the intern program at my local CC) asks them if they need a paid internship or not. That factors into the way she assigns them to students.

    As a small business owner, I can not afford to pay these students. I have a hardcore budget and I do not have steady funds for a paid worker (trained or otherwise). One day when I have the money, I will take on paid internships.
     
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  5. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member

    Location:
    Toronto
    Well, kids in shitty financial situations should probably stay away from industries that don't pay well wholesale. Like I said, many professions as a whole probably have many companies/firms that pay for internships. Many probably pay pretty well too.

    In my case, I should have gotten into computers or finance.

    Books (literary!)... Pft.... What the fuck was I thinking?!
     
  6. Bodkin van Horn

    Bodkin van Horn One of the Four Horsewomyn of the Fempocalypse

    I'm just saying. Unpaid internships favor rich kids. So does doing art. This is not at all to say that poor people never become successful artists or never participate in unpaid internships.
     
  7. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member

    Location:
    Toronto
    Well, yeah. Unpaid anything favours rich kids. Come to think of it, rich kids get favoured in a lot of things. Heck, rich anybody.

    I know an author who writes mystery books full time. He's published nearly ten now. He's lucky to earn out his advance on each one (small presses usually pay advances less than $5,000 a book, and many pay less than $2,000). He's lucky to make $10,000 or $15,000 a year on his writing. He takes four to six sunny vacations a year.

    You do the math.

    If kids in shitty financial situations really want out of shitty financial situations, unpaid internships won't likely get in their way. Hopefully, they'll realize that paid internships are possible, and they may find choosing a profession specifically has a lot to do with it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2013
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Bodkin van Horn

    Bodkin van Horn One of the Four Horsewomyn of the Fempocalypse

    Right. The economics of being a writer who isn't J.K. Rowling suck. But if unpaid internships are a vehicle for facilitating socioeconomic inequality, and we mean to be a society that tries to minimize pervasive socioeconomic inequality, we're kind of obligated to do something about unpaid internships.

    I suspect that the publishing industry might be better off if it weren't predisposed to favoring children of privilege.
     
  9. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member

    Location:
    Toronto
    Honestly? If it weren't for children of privilege, I don't think there would be a publishing industry.

    I totally dig what you're saying. Though I think it's wishful thinking to suggest literary publishing go without unpaid internships.

    It's an industry where you gotta do what you gotta do to survive.
     
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  10. Bodkin van Horn

    Bodkin van Horn One of the Four Horsewomyn of the Fempocalypse

    I know it's wishful thinking. Fill one hand with wishes and the other with bullshit and all that.
     
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  11. redux

    redux Very Tilted Donor

    Location:
    Foggy Bottom
    I thought my position was clear, but evidently not.

    I believe the benefits of unpaid internships, particularly where students receive academic credit and learning outside the classroom, outweigh the detriments.

    As to the NACE study you cited, here is an update:


    I am not surprised by these results given that unpaid interns are often treated as no more than volunteers and not provided with the optimum learning experience. I blame the employers for that.

    But at the same time, in the case of community-based organizations or non-profit charitable organizations (or the arts) as Baraka noted, an additional body provides the means for the organization to maintain (or expand) existing services.

    From my experience, in cases where the university and the employer work together to structure the internship and provide the best learning opportunity for the student, it brings value to the student beyond classroom learning.

    And as I noted on several occasions now, I believe the FLSA criteria for unpaid interns needs to be revised so that the best interest of the student and not just the employer are protected.

    Are unpaid internships “gross” and discriminatory? Not in my opinion. Would I prefer all internships be paid. Sure, in a perfect world.

    Clear enough? :)
    --- merged: Jun 17, 2013 8:22 AM ---
    left off the NACE link - NACE - 60 Percent of Paid Interns Got Job Offers
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2013
  12. Bodkin van Horn

    Bodkin van Horn One of the Four Horsewomyn of the Fempocalypse

    I still think unpaid internships are gross and exploitative. I never said they were discriminatory, though I imagine many of them are discriminatory in ways that mirror the ways in which the paid job market is discriminatory. Unpaid internship providers don't have to discriminate against economically disadvantaged people; generally people who can't afford to work for free will simply not apply to work for jobs that don't pay anything. This is what I did when I had the 'opportunity' to participate in unpaid internships.

    I think one could make the argument that some people benefit from unpaid internships. However, I don't find at all credible the argument that unpaid internships don't favor people with more economic means, in fact, I think it's absurd, akin to arguing that the sky is red.

    We should call unpaid interns what they actually are: volunteers.
     
  13. redux

    redux Very Tilted Donor

    Location:
    Foggy Bottom
    I dont look at it in such black and white terms (or red skies) or paint with such a sweeping brush. All unpaid internships are not the same.

    While I dont dispute that abuses exist and need to be addressed, I believe unpaid internships for academic credit (unlike volunteers) fill a void for both students and employers, particularly non-profits and small businesses, that can be (and are often) mutually beneficial with proper regulation, administration, oversight and commitment to make it a positive learning experience.

    Guess we're done here.
     
  14. Fraeia

    Fraeia Getting Tilted

    Location:
    Newfoundland

    When it comes to internships in the faculty of education, I completely agree. A similar situation exists here in Canada.

    When I did my undergrad education degree I had to PAY for a semester of school (3.5 months) which consisted entirely of working at least 9 hours per day, 5 days a week. After my first week I jumped right into planning lessons, team teaching, solo teaching, helping out with event planning, preparing report cards, staff meetings, etc... On top of being at the school all day, I often did work at home as well. My cooperating teacher, as lovely as she was, took a total of 8 days off sick that semester and I did the teaching while she was gone (while a paid substitute watched) and when she was there she was so overworked that while she did mandatory individual assessments with the students I took over the teaching. I also took the role of teacher assistant with some students in the classroom who had special needs, and I helped her create teaching aids that she would have otherwise not have had the time to fabricate.

    During the semesters that I took regular classes I usually worked 2 to 3 shifts per week at near minimum wage, and relied on student loans to get by. When I did my internship I could only do one shift per week without dying of exhaustion, so with having to pay tuition in order to work my ass off, I relied on my credit card for anything I absolutely needed and couldn't afford otherwise. It was hard, and very unfair.

    I understand that you learn a lot on those internships, and that student teachers shouldn't make as much as regular teachers do. In fact, I would be happy with simply doing the work for free but not having to pay tuition to do it. I would be overjoyed if I even got a small monetary reward for my efforts, not even minimum wage. I think that schools get much more out of student teachers than most people think. On the other hand, I know some student teachers who don't pull their weight and expect to be shown everything without giving anything back. They expect the cooperating teachers to work extra hours showing them the ropes. So, maybe a one size fits all approach isn't really suitable.

    Paid internships are one option, but there needs to be at least more consideration for that educational interns go through while they're essentially having to pay to work.
     
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  15. Shadowex3

    Shadowex3 Very Tilted

    I'm quite certain there were many kind and generous plantation owners as well. They're working real full time jobs, often paying TO work, and get compensated in Not-Money. We have a word for that, it's called a Truck System, which is almost always a form of slavery.

    A hundred years ago miners were fooled into debt and wage slavery by being forced to buy their supplies from the company store and being paid in scrip that was only good AT the company store. Today young adults are forced into debt and wage slavery by being forced to pay for the privilege of working and being paid in scrip that goes on the resume rather than into the company store. At least the miners could buy food with their monopoly money.

    Lets stop pretending and call this what it IS. Unpaid internships are bad for everyone, they're an abuse of the interns themselves, force down wages for actual employees, take up positions which would otherwise be paid jobs, and perpetuate the culture of corporate feudalism that's strangling the country.
     
  16. Lordeden

    Lordeden Part of the Problem

    Location:
    Redneckhell, NC
    I'll be sure to tell my unpaid intern (who I just offered a job to) that his unpaid internship is BAD and I'm a bad person for letting him train at my shop for school credit. What was I thinking when I decided to take time out of my day as a business owner to train an unskilled student who would be hard pressed to get a job in today's market with no experience what-so-ever. If I would have known I was ruining his life and denying someone a job that I hadn't planned on filling, I would have never volunteered to teach students. Thank you for showing me that I was continuing to "perpetuate the culture of corporate feudalism" in my small 1 employee computer repair shop.

    Now, to go tell my intern he shouldn't take the job I offered and work more hours at the local corporate restaurant. They care more about him than I do apparently.

    *****

    I would also like to point out that my interns only work 15-20 hours a week. They do not pull 40 hour work weeks and only are required to work 160 hours for their co-op. They can work that in any order for 10 weeks. They take days off when they need them or leave whenever they need to (bank runs, school such, one intern left everyday to go pick his sister up at school). Most of the time I give them an hour lunch and then let them mark down they worked that hour (along with the trips [within reason]). I go out of my way to make sure I don't overwork them and that they don't work crazy hours. I take offence when you tell me I'm fucking up my interns lives by going out of my way to make sure they get the experience they need to get a real job after school.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2013
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  17. Manic

    Manic Getting Tilted

    Location:
    NYC
    Having been one of those poor exploited interns, I can honestly say that a fair amount of the blame should rightfully fall upon the interns, their parents, and the institutions that were supposed to prepare them for the working world. I interned for about a year with a non-profit arts org and after my time there I was no more prepared to work in my field of interest than when I began. Sure, I had a bullshit position which ultimately amounted to accomplishing menial tasks and attending weekly meets and it all looks much more substantial on my resume than it actually was. But what did I actually gain? What did I contribute? Not a hell of a lot. I was fortunate to have many pans in the fire so my time there wasn't entirely a waste but overall, I blame myself.

    Interns should always be paid, even if only in the form of truly useful experience. Interns who enter into these arrangements with no sense of purpose and no sense of when their work will end shouldn't be surprised at having been taking advantage of - they're practically asking for it.
     
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  18. Shadowex3

    Shadowex3 Very Tilted

    Lordeden I reiterate:

    I think this says more than I ever could as to the perversion of our culture and morality. We all know various other places we've heard this line of thinking.
     
  19. Manic

    Manic Getting Tilted

    Location:
    NYC

    Says the person seriously contrasting slave labor to unpaid internships. Ditch the hyperbolic nonsense, it doesn't help your argument.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  20. Shadowex3

    Shadowex3 Very Tilted

    You're right it's a completely unrealistic comparison. Slaves were given food, shelter, and clothing but worked without pay. Unpaid interns are expected to support themselves and often pay to work. An "unpaid internship" is what you get when you manage to convince slaves to pay their master for the privilege. It's right wing corporate feudalism's endgame, a workforce that pays you instead of the other way around, and a warped morality that justifies it by blaming the victims. They're getting "experience", they "had it coming", they just aren't "bootstrappy" enough...

    Wage and Debt slavery may not be the same as Chattel slavery, but they're still a form of slavery.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2013