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The Internship Economy

The internship economy — who it helps, who it hurts, where it takes us.

Students at the University of Vermont. (AP)

Students at the University of Vermont. (AP)

Bad joke of the day: How many interns does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Who cares? They’re free.

Well, not at Google. Software interns there make $6,000 a month.  But how many of us are going to work at Google?  Not many.

For the rest, the way of the intern — often unpaid — is becoming very familiar.  Get an internship — or two or three or four — young people are told, to build experience and a resume.

In the new movie “The Internship,” Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn are in their forties and interning.

This hour On Point: The internship economy — who it helps, who it hurts and where it takes us.

– Tom Ashbrook


Ross Eisenbrey, vice president at the Economic Policy Institute, and lawyer and former commissioner of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. (@RossEisenbrey)

Mary Schilling, executive director of Career Development at The College of William and Mary.

Show Highlights

Eisenbrey on how internships have evolved:

It used to be that entry-level work was minimum wage work. You got paid for it; you got paid a very low wage, and then eventually you worked your way up. And employers didn’t pretend that you were supposed to come with skills and experience to your entry-level job.

Something happened over the last 20 or 30 years. Part of it is that the government shrank in the Reagan administration, and law enforcement in the labor area shrank dramatically — it was cut in half. And so employers found that they could get away with calling somebody an intern even though it was just a typical entry-level job.

So now we’ve gotten to the point where there are probably, in any given year, half a million young people — mostly young people, but not entirely — working unpaid in jobs that should be paid under the Fair Labor Standards Act, should be paid at least the minimum wage. I see advertisements in Craig’s List and other places for unpaid internships that require people to have had prior experience, to come with skills in computers, in database management — it’s pretty shocking.

Schilling on the difference between internships and entry-level jobs:

I guess I’m not clear that our students who go on and graduate and get jobs, that they are competing with the interns who we also send out. Typically the internship level is at one level, and the entry-level job is a notch up, at a level of more responsibility, higher level functioning expected, more opportunity to grow in the position than in a three-month internship or a six-week internship or whatever.

Schilling on the benefits of internships:

Originally I would say that internships are the best kept secret for getting started in your career path. Then I started saying it’s not even a secret — you got to do it. So we really try to encourage students to do at least one, if not a couple, internships, whether in the local community during the academic year, during the summer in their home community or in other communities. It really does make a difference not just in their employability, but in their level of confidence, their ability to make a connection between what they’re learning in the classroom and the academic experience and the real world, the application of theory to practice becomes really important. Learning about the corporate culture, the non-profit culture, the government sector, communication — all of these experiences really do make for a more employable, more confident, more job ready individual.

Eisenbrey on working-class and middle-class kids losing out:

It’s a particular problem with government because there it’s not illegal. And we should talk about that — that a lot of these are illegal employment relationships that are masquerading as internships. But in the government, they actually have the right to hire somebody and not pay them, to take volunteer service. And when that is your only foot in the door to get a job, let’s say as a legislative aid in Congress, that you have to go through this path that starts with unpaid internships — and sometimes serial unpaid internships, two or three of them — who can afford to do that? It’s upper-middle-class kids, and working-class and middle-class families can’t afford to send their children to Washington and pay the rents here and have their child work for nothing.

Schilling on providing stipends for disadvantaged students:

Well, if we say that certain students are disadvantaged, let’s say if we feel as though a lot of the unpaid internships may be taken by students who are middle class, upper-middle class because they can afford to take an unpaid internship — one of the things that colleges and universities across the country are doing is to try to recognize the fact that first generation students or students from certain socioeconomic levels may be truly disadvantaged because they feel like they have to make money and bring in some money for college or for spending money or whatever it is. So what a number of colleges have done is put together funding programs to which a student can apply. So a student would secure an internship — let’s say it’s in a non-profit or a government or an environmental [organization] — put in a kind of proposal for $2,000 to $3,000 for the summer so they could afford to not work at flipping burgers or mowing lawns or painting houses but could instead do a significant pre-professional, educational, and a real significant kind of an internships and could be at least stipended for the summer. And that would be usually out of alumni monies, parent monies, some other kinds of sort of philanthropic, charitable kinds of contributions that would say, “OK, look, we want students to not be disadvantaged by their background and to have the same opportunities that students of the upper-middle class and upper class would be having.”

Eisenbrey on how internships can harm young workers and make them “vulnerable”:

We’re to the point where there are employers who say they want to see experience on a resume before they’ll hire somebody for what is an entry-level job. So, for that employer, maybe the only way in is through an internship. And, presumably, most of those internships now are going to be unpaid. But there’s also evidence that this is a way to hurt yourself, for a young person to hurt him or herself. The National Association of Colleges and Employers surveyed young people who had had internships and found if you had a paid internship, you were more likely to get hired and more likely to find a job that paid a good wage. If you were in an unpaid internship, you did worse in some instances than people who had no internship at all. [TOM ASHBROOK: Now why would that be? Because a prospective employer says, "Ah, this person is willing and prepared and able to work for free so let's do that again?"] Yeah, you’ve shown that you are a vulnerable person in the workforce, willing to work for nothing. And so an employer — let’s say they offer you a job. Instead of offering you $35,000, they know they can get you for $25,000. This is real evidence that you can hurt yourself by taking these unpaid internships.

Schilling on internships varying by sector:

I think the issue is sectors. If you’re talking about the corporate sector, finance, accounting, consulting, technology, engineering — those kinds of firms usually pay because they have that ability to pay and they can be competitive with the paid internship. But then you have communication, like PR, advertising, publishing — those kids of groups who do not pay. But what they often do is say, “Since we’re not going to pay you, we are willing to have you do this internship only if you take academic credit.” So that’s sort of relieves them of the pressure or the expectation to pay. And many students want these experiences in the communication industry enough that they will do them for academic credit, and they get that support from the college. And then there are those in the non-profit sector — environmental, the arts, et cetera — who really don’t usually have the kind of staffing budget to be able to pay an intern, but the students again need that experience to break into the field.

Eisenbrey on the federal criteria for a legitimate unpaid internship:

It’s very unlikely that you can have a legal internship in PR, in advertising, in publishing — these are all for-profit businesses that are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, which says you cannot suffer or permit an employee to work for you and not pay them the minimum wage. So when these are unpaid internships, the chances are close to 100% that it’s an illegal relationship.

There’s a six-part test that the Department of Labor has online…it says that the internship has to be structured, closely supervised like vocational education, it has to be for the benefit of the student, not the benefit of the PR company or advertising company that’s getting this work. There can’t be an immediate benefit to them, the idea being they ought to be putting more into educating the student than they’re getting out in work product. It can’t displace another employee. Every company has somebody who answers the phones; if the internship is answering the phones, you’re replacing somebody. That’s a job that should be paid. Those are four of the six. You can’t be promised that at the end of this unpaid experience you’ll be given a job. [TOM ASHBROOK: Why not? People would probably be love that promise.] Well, then it’s just like try-out employment; the employer is just getting a period of free service and is planning to hire you anyway.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times: Do Unpaid Internships Exploit College Students? – “The labor of unpaid interns has quietly replaced or displaced untold thousands of workers. Lucrative and influential professions — politics, media and entertainment, to name a few — now virtually require a period of unpaid work, effectively barring young people from less privileged backgrounds.”

The Guardian: Unpaid Internships And A culture Of Privilege Are Ruining Journalism – “The practice of asking recent graduates to spend their days working for free while paying rent and living in a city like New York is a barrier for entry to students from mid- to lower-class backgrounds.”

USA Today: Students Fight Back Against Illegal Unpaid Internships – “I took two unpaid internships advertised by the school, and both were exploitative on two different extremes. For one of these internships, I was literally performing my boss’ job for him and I was denied pay. For another internship, I found myself only performing menial tasks, such as pressing elevator buttons and going on coffee runs. For both internships, I was treated like an employee and did not receive compensation for my work.”

Extra: Commencement Address

Ed Helms gave the commencement address at Knox College on June 8, 2013. We featured an excerpt from his remarks at the end of this hour.

Read the full transcript or watch his speech here:

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  • Jeff Dunaway

    Employers and interns have to find an equilibrium. Sacrifices will have to be made on both sides in order to reach this equilibrium. Do we see this equilibrium in the market today? What role does labor mobility play in the Internship Economy? 

    Answers appreciated. 

    Thank you,

    Jeff D. 

  • Frank TheUnderemployedProfessi

    Those who are interested in this subject might consider reading Ross Perlin’s book:  Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy.  What we are seeing is basically a form of gentile slavery.

    Decades ago people were able to support themselves with high school diplomas and were able to find work right out of high school without having to do internships.  Today people spend gobs of time and money on college, and do free internships, and the simple fact of the matter is that still only a small percentage of all the jobs that need to be done, perhaps 10-15%, actually require and make use of a college education.

    (Many jobs that “require” a college education to get hired were filled decades ago by mere high school graduates who worked their way up and/or learned on the job.  College education often serves as a subsidized screening device for employers who can use possession of a college education to sort thru applicants on the presumption of a higher IQ, sense of responsibility, and ambition even though the jobs in question do not make any real direct use of a higher education.

    How many interns does it take to change a light bulb?

    Who cares!  They’re free!

    • 1Brett1

      Hey, Frank! How are you? It has been a while since you’ve visited!

    • Coastghost

      Well, let’s start by liberating all these gentiles from genteel slavery, shall we? (You, Frank, and Rollo Martins above, both.)

  • Robert Berube

    (1) What you should focus on is the group, mostly college students, who’re priced out of the unpaid internship market, which they were able to obtain readily before the recession.

    (2) One silver-lining is that businesses have the freedom to self-select the best and the brightest without incurring additional labor costs, i.e wages, etc.

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      I wonder if I were to create a surplus of false choices and offered them to you, if you would feel the same way ?

      • Robert Berube

        We live in a democratic system, right? Each individual has the right and capability to make his own free choice, whether it be economic or political. Let’s not constrain choice to internship, let’s expand it to political as well. People made a choice to elect someone who they thought would address their problems, incl. low employment creation and proliferation of unpaid internships.

      • Robert Berube

        Non sequitur. People make their own choices. We live in a representative democracy, where people elect people who make choices on their behalf. Only in an autocracy, a single person could “create a surplus of false choices” and offer it to people.

        • 1Brett1

          Of course, we all have choices. It’s just that some have more choices from which to choose than others. If one is wealthy enough, for example, to live in an area where the cost of living is high and can spend several months participating in an internship while another can not afford that same opportunity, those two people aren’t able to take advantage of the same choices. 

          The “free will argument” only works somewhat if people have the same array of the same choices (and even with that, arguments could be made that a person’s limitations or sometimes beyond his/her control and sometimes separate even from having the same ostensible external choices as another.

    • Shag_Wevera

      I don’t think I like you.

      • DrewInGeorgia

        I know I don’t.

      • notafeminista

        Well that’s certainly a mature response. 

        • Shag_Wevera

          I didn’t call him a name, or even say I hate him.  Let’s just say I hit the dislike button.

      • Robert Berube

        I would have appreciated a bit more thorough rebuttal of my comment.  

    • http://www.facebook.com/leonard.bast.90 Leonard Bast

      What utter malarkey. It’s not real freedom unless there are real choices. What are the real choices for many who must take unpaid internships? Take the internship or take nothing? Take the internship or work in a convenience store? That’s not freedom.

      As for businesses hiring the “best and the brightest” Americans you obviously haven’t been dealing with any American businesses lately. American businesses want the cheapest labor they can get that will fill the pockets of the rich, and it doesn’t matter whether that cheap labor comes in the form of unpaid interns, or Chinese factory workers, or Indian call center employees. 

      I’m tired of people talking about freedom, when all they’re really doing is acting as shills for the rich. Freedom means a lot more than the freedom of the wealthy to steal more for themselves in a system that is completely rigged and anything but free. Anyone who does not understand that betrays the most basic ideals upon which this nation was founded.

      • Robert Berube

        Let me parse your comments, one by one.

        (1) As long as their is an alternative choices, even if it’s a binary, you have a choice. If you’re unhappy with the growth of unpaid internships, then you have no one else to blame but you! Unpaid internships are an outgrowth of low economic growth, which is a macroeconomic problem. Who’s responsible for macroeconomic policies? Well, that’s the government that you choose and elect. 

        (2) In an high unemployment economy, the correlation between talent and wage becomes negligible. When you have an oversupply of labor, the businesses can afford to reduce wages and cherry-pick the best out of a large applicant pool. Cheap labor is  

        (3) See my first point. You have the freedom to elect you representatives; my suggestion would be to use your choice carefully and elect someone who would address your concerns – because, in the end, the onus will fall on you.

    • 1Brett1

      1) You may, inadvertently, have a point about how economic factors have given corporations more incentive to exploit a potential workforce, that what was once an innocent and often valuable experience (and could be easily negotiated by students in a world that was once more economically navigable), but I don’t really think that is the point you intended to make. 

      2) Silver lining? or exploitative and poor business practice?

      3) If the CHOICE is either spend time as an unpaid intern or do nothing because one can not find a job; if the corporate world is using unpaid internships as a form of labor-saving devices while sitting on profits/using profits to increase upper management salaries; if companies are not using profits to create paying jobs because they have a good thing going with unpaid internships…well, yes, that  is exploitation. 

      • Robert Berube

        Your reading of my comment is very superficial.

        (1) That’s not the point I was trying to make, but I largely agree with you on that minus exploitation.

        (2) Poor business practice? No. Each firm is a rational self-optimizer with an objective to reduce input costs, increase output, and maximize firm profits. Business practice is either rational or irrational, and is amoral. So, I would avoid making a value judgement on that.

        (3) Choices are not constrained to internship only, but extend to every facet of our society, whether it be political or economics. In US, People made a choice to elect someone who they thought would address their problems on their behalf. You had the freedom of choice to elect someone who could address low employment growth and proliferation of unpaid internships.

        • 1Brett1

          Superficial? or in disagreement? 

          1) One would predict the “minus exploitation” sentiment. We simply disagree.

          2) ideally, business should operate from a point of interdependence, of businesses working in cooperation with each other and with communities. This idea is not mutually exclusive from competition either; both can coexist and can do so quite well. Small diverse businesses that support each other in one way or another are what keep economies strong. This is proven over and over in communities, especially in hard economic times. And, ultimately, that concept is a moral one. Anyone not even looking too hard could cite so many examples of immoral business practices present today that not only operate from a standpoint of crushing and putting out of business the competition, but of creating what amounts to economic blackmail for workers in a given community and in a larger society.

          3) the nicest thing to say about this is that it is naive to think Romney would have created jobs and strengthened the economy which fosters corporations operating by using unpaid internships to reduce labor costs. 

          • Robert Berube

            Superficial because you missed my larger point.

            (1) When is it not exploitation?

            (2) Not possible in an economically integrated, globalized world. If you like reading, I highly suggest “The Great Transformation” by Karl Polanyi. He is sympathetic to your view point and discusses the transformation from a communal-based market to globalized market.

            (3) Nonetheless, you had a choice in that respect. Let’s not talk about who could have done what, but people chose and elected their own leaders. This means that there is no such thing as exploitation. If you feel that labor is being exploited, then the labor willfully submitted themselves to that “exploitation” (a la Stockholm syndrome) by choosing their leaders who they thought would address these issues.

          • 1Brett1

            If an internship were very brief; if the intern were treated as if he/she were shadowing actual employees whose goal it was to impart experienced information (as opposed to making the intern perform labor on his/her own for long hours); if the intern’s efforts were a precursor directly to an actual job…in other words, there are situations when it may not be exploitation. 

            There are not one set of rules for business; in fact, there are many opportunities to lead with new paradigms (in addition to proven ones that work in a balance) in business, even in a “global” economy. Once upon a time, for example, corporations looked at the long term, invested more in R&D, looked past the next quarter, etc.

            Why is it neocons can only really substantiate their point by saying others don’t understand their point or “miss their point”?

            Since you’ve reduced my point to “it is ALWAYS exploitation,” let my ask you: is it NEVER exploitation?

          • Robert Berube

            Of course, there are many instances of exploitation. Slavery and bonded labor is what I consider exploitation, where the victim has no or limited choice.

          • 1Brett1

            Your definition of exploiting a person is if he/she is a slave/indentured servant who is actually owned by another person; no other circumstances can set the stage for exploitation? Besides, aren’t you being presumptuous or painting with too broad a brush by seeming to know what another person’s circumstance is? 

          • Robert Berube

            Of course, there are other instances which could be considered exploitation. But what you need to consider is how much of those circumstances are a result of that person’s poor choices. I would argue, at least in the US, all of it.

  • LinRP

    College students have done internships for as long as I can remember to begin to gain contacts and garner “real” job experience. I know I did several unpaid when I was in college 30 years ago. I did an unpaid internship at Polaroid when I was a senior in college, and it led to them hiring me upon graduation, and it launched my career.

    I did not come from a privileged background at all. I needed to work and support myself. So I did the internship and worked in the dining hall to make some cash. It was hard.

    My son, now a year out of one of the most prestigious colleges in the country, is living in the world of internships. The difference I see is that companies and non-profits want to keep kids in internship limbo. A natural extension of a job offer isn’t extended to any of them. Getting a foothold into a real job is very, very difficult.

    • Shag_Wevera

      Why pay ‘em if you don’t have to?  What sad rubbish.

  • Yar

    Berea College requires labor from its students and has for over 150 years.  They pay students for their work.  This is a tuition free college which provides full scholarship including much if not all the cost of housing and meals to every student.  If they can do this then every educational institution can pay something for labor.  Pay something, it teaches the reward of work, it also documents the work relationship.  Measure what you want to encourage.  I advocate for two years of mandatory public service from all high school graduates.  I believe the work should be compensated with most of the pay going as financial support for higher education.  I think Berea College is the model to adopt nationwide.  Unless we invest in the next generation we will lose the nation our parents and previous generations built.  We must move away from the exploitative model of education, it teaches the wrong values.

  • John Cedar

    The concept of minimum wage is a good one for humanity if you don’t have a society with a safety net. It is also a good concept for whomever is left paying for the safety net.

    • Shag_Wevera

      Oh Cedar, you’d make life easier…  :)

      • jefe68

        At least he’s not blaming Jews, yet.

    • Don_B1

      I give you a partial like for supporting the concept of a minimum wage, but there are two qualifiers:

      1) The minimum wage must be enough to support a dignified life with full-time work. This could reduce the EITC and put the burden on the business that is benefiting from the work done. But that might not be the best way to reduce the EITC or ensure low skill workers can get a job. Remember, it was Milton Friedman who convinced President Ronald Reagan to support the EITC. Groups such as Demos have conducted studies that show that a living minimum wage would have surprisingly small differences in cost of purchases at stores such as Walmart.

      2) A decent minimum wage is not a substitute for a safety net, though it certainly can reduce the costs of the safety net as, for example, fewer people will need SNAP (food stamps) or Medicaid, etc. But there will always be those who cannot work because of injuries or other handicaps.

      • John Cedar

        Didn’t mean to say minimum wage is a substitute for a safety net. I meant that the safety net makes the minimum wage all but irrelevant.

        I am not sure how much money it takes to support a dignified life. The Millionaire Next Door would probably give some insight on it though.

        I employee several hundred people at wages slightly above minimum wage. I am well aware that Walmart prices would not be effected by increased wages to the extent that medium sized and small busineses are. BTW…did you ever notice there is a conspiracy between the government and small business, to lie about small business metrics, by grouping medium sized businesses in with small, in some data and excluding them in others?

        While the owners of businesses certainly benefit from workers, so to, do the customers. Higher wages means fewer services in small communities and on roads with lower traffic counts. And consider that when the evil vulture capitalist pigs make theirs profit off the sweat of the unwashed masses, they will pay 39 cents on the dollar to Obama plus state income tax, plus inheritance tax.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joseph-Rice/100000693874282 Joseph Rice

    I am almost afraid to ask this, but will we start seeing actual “pay to intern here” situations? Are they already out there?

    Also, internships in “glamour” professions may have always been skewed to those with connections, etc., but I am concerned about the trickle down effect – will students be fighting over internships at “the home of low prices”?

  • Shag_Wevera

    I’m not a fan of unpaid work.  Internships, clinicals for medical students, volunteer firefighters.  I think it is all a way to circumvent paying people for the work they do.  I’m so tired of everything being done on the cheap, everything being a rip-off.  Our economy is rotten to the bone.

  • RolloMartins

    Slavery by another more gentile name, putting a positive connotation onto an otherwise malevolent idea: “learn” while we exploit you! That’s the ticket! Way to go, corporations.

    • Yar

      “Learn to exploit” is why we shouldn’t allow it.  Colleges exploit students already, they are way too heavy in administration, and teacher are overworked and often underpaid. Online with adjunct  professors, all that gets taught is exploitation.  Our higher education is badly broken, and our k-12 needs investment as well.  Our great country is unwinding and are in danger of revolution which won’t necessarily make things better and could end up much worse.  Wake up America. We have the capacity to do better.  From immigration reform to mandatory public service, to caring for all citizens in every stage of life with respect and justice, our nation can survive as a hybrid economy that feeds itself and promotes democracy.  We have to bite the hand that is keeping us in this cage of dogma. Polarization of thought gives our democracy over to business for profit through exploitation.  

  • sjw81

    absolute slavery with a fake feel good rationale. its free labor- period. only helps ceos fat paychecks and companies bottom lines. no one else. its sold as resume boosting or helping to gain employment-a joke. companies paying millions to its execs, yet cant pay even minimum wage?? its pure exploitation. and the only people who can “afford” to work for free tend to come from upper middle class families, so the middle class and below cant even participate in this so called benefit, further putting them behind….

    • Don_B1

      What is worse even is if the stories I hear of interns being used as “go-fors,” etc., with no serious learning experience.

  • Jasoturner

    If an internship means letting a student “shadow” a professional to see what they do and how they do it, ask questions, etc. I can see where it might be unpaid.  But if the student is performing work, they should be paid.  If they are not, it merely (merely?) teaches the students that exploitation is fair game if a business can get away with it.

    • Yar

      Like how intern Monica Lewinsky shadowed Bill Clinton? 

  • jefe68

    The late Scottish author Iain Banks penned this critique of society and it seems to fit the topic of today’s show and many other I dare say.

    “The point is, there is no feasible excuse for what are, for what we have made of ourselves. We have chosen to put profits before people, money before morality, dividends before decency, fanaticism before fairness, and our own trivial comforts before the unspeakable agonies of others”
    –Iain Banks

  • DrewInGeorgia
  • kenid

    I totally agree with ‘sjw81′ below.  I was required to spend 2 quarters interning at a nonprofit organization.  I didn’t mind that during the two quarters when I had to use my ‘real’ experiences at that place to report on how my learned skills at the university’s program was being used on real people.  The only people who genuinely gave me valuable feedback were my professor & peers.  I already knew the organization benefited more than it could bargain for because its ‘training program’ for other volunteers (which I also attended) was so rudimentary that it did not teach newcomers 1/3 of my 2 year concentrated curriculum for my major.  Later, one of my roommates got a paying job working for a similar organization, but he was a math major and didn’t study anything remotely close to my major.  That was when I realized I should stop giving ‘free’ work after my academic requirements had been fulfilled.  I am glad that I did because even with minimum wage jobs that I took as I continue on to grad school, it felt just–that I wasn’t being someone’s ‘free’ laborer.  
    Now as a working professional who occasionally teach college Ethics, I definitely condemn those who use free labor from semi-trained professionals in the guise of ‘internship’.  Particularly those senior university students who have a lot of training than at least 1/2 the labor force in many organization, they should be paid at least an allowance or stipend for giving their free time (and also being supervised by their professors whom those students paid in the form of tuition).  If university or grad school education is worth nothing, then please just continue to hire less expensive people with less than a high school diploma to manage the organizations.  No need to get college-educated students to work for ‘free’ in the guise of ‘internship.’ Let us please remember a university education, even at the state institution, is NOT free.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Funny how people that never have to make real sacrifices are the first ones to suggest that everyone else should.

  • J__o__h__n

    My first job after college grew out of an unpaid internship but that was something I did for a short period of time and I wasn’t there to replace a full-time employee.  Most summers I had to work though and obviously customer service doesn’t look as good on a resume as the opportunities someone who doesn’t need to work due to rich parents and who has connections to intern somewhere interesting that doesn’t pay.  The value of interns varies.  I’ve supervised some great ones and also some that were utterly useless (the boss’s grandson for instance – my other employees nicknamed him “the lump”). 

  • TomK_in_Boston

    There’s nothing wrong with internships. They can be great and have their place. That’s not the point. The question is, is their use soaring way beyond what was “normal” as a corporate cost-cutting tactic, where they replace what used to be part-time or entry-level jobs. Given that the corporate agenda is to cut wages of everyone but the elites, I would say yes. I mean, why pay for what you can get for free? I expect some MBAs are asking “why didn’t we think of that before”? It’s even better than Bangladesh.

  • Coastghost

    NPR as an institution has positively THRIVED on internships for DECADES, has it not? My ears ring with memories of sunny invitations to enroll in summer internships, to learn just how public radio works. (Does “On Point” maintain its own seasonal roster of interns? Does WBUR? Does WGBH? Et cetera et cetera et cetera.

    • jefe68

      It’s my understanding that the NPR pays it’s interns.

    • Don_B1

      I don’t know the answer, but a question that needs one before accepting your rant against NPR is to ask if WBUR internships are unpaid? And then, if paid, at what rate?

      “The Connection” [WBUR] and “Science Friday” [WNYC] have (among others) had interns, and I have assumed they were paid, but have no direct knowledge.

      • Coastghost

        The show’s topic was “internships” without strict requirement of unpaid status.

        I assume NPR’s internships are all paid (at least nominally), but the fact remains, NPR and public broadcasting have thrived FOR DECADES using interns and have helped propagate the practice, arguably, throughout the secular economy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

    What’s the difference between an apprentice & an intern? Apprentices learn a trade on the job & get paid. Interns just get exploited as free labor.  

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    Unpaid internships are a legal way to abuse ‘employees’. Use them, then toss them.

    The interns are creating “goods and services” for the “employer” to sell for MONEY. And doing it for free in HOPES they can get a paying job some day.

  • Coastghost

    “Grad student” often enough is an academic locution for “intern”, true?

    • BHA_in_Vermont

       Grad students get paid.

    • Don_B1

      Only when the graduate student is getting financial as as a teaching or research assistant, and in either case is probably getting deeper knowledge (teaching) or work experience (research) as well as reduced or free tuition.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=826803069 Peggy Simons Medema

    While it’s not called an internship, Education students are required to do a semester of student teaching. I don’t know of any school district that pays student teachers. Some of these students are fortunate enough to find a position where they can live with family or friends, but often they must pay rent and feed themselves on top of paying for that semester of school while they train.

    • BHA_in_Vermont

       I believe the student teaching requirement is part of the curriculum and therefore a “class” paid for the same as any other class. They are being taught to teach by a professional teacher.

  • shawn dones

    Has anyone considered the fact that employers are Forced to pay a minimum wage? From an employer’s perspective they Must pay a minimum wage, then they expect to get an Experienced Employee in return. Stop blaming less government for the problem and look at what government intervention as done.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      “Employers are Forced to pay a minimum wage? ”
      I suppose their shareholders FORCE them to generate huge profits at the lowest costs, too. Poor employers…All that power & so many cheap workers.

      • shawn dones

        So Every employer has shareholders and huge profits?

    • Kyle

      The positions which an internship helps you get have nothing to do with minimum wage.  If a company is paying minimum wage and expecting experienced applicants, they are going to be spending a lot of time waiting for an applicant

      • shawn dones

        My point is that if you force employers to pay for internships it will only Hurt people who have no experience.

        • jefe68

          There are labor laws for a reason.

        • Kyle

          Well if they followed all of the rules, especially the part about not having an intern replace a normal employee, then I agree, they might not necessarily be paid because they are benefiting from it.  If they are doing the work of a real employee then they should be paid.

          • Kyle

            when I said they are benefiting, I mean the students are.

    • BHA_in_Vermont

      How much experience does a high school kid have when the get their first minimum wage job at McDs or Sears?

    • Don_B1

      If employers are offering internships without pay, which they can do through the porous “laws/regulations” which “force” them to pay a minimum wage, what is their motivation?

      If the employer benefits from internships, why shouldn’t the intern, and in more than just experience and networking, particularly when talented people cannot otherwise afford to take an unpaid internship?

    • Shag_Wevera

      What a terrible burden for employers.  :’(

      They expect an experienced employee for minimum wage?  Lived much, Mr. Dones?

  • Unterthurn

    If university graduates are working as interns, there must be a flaw in the education system. Internships were normally incorporated into a vocational instruction. This shows too many people are choosing a university education when another option may have better suited them.The university system / education system needs to be revamped in areas to better suit the work world. Graduates of all education systems should be going directly to paying jobs. Internships should be completed before one has a degree. Perhaps students should be looking at schools that allow for a work semester.

    • Don_B1

      Schools like Northeastern University in Boston started out requiring a work semester each year or so, but it was for paid work. That program is basically gone, probably because paid work is no longer available as an entry for students of many fields.

  • TomK_in_Boston

    The big picture is that everyone but the romney types are losing ground economically and recent graduates are struggling with debt. Replacing real jobs with unpaid internships sure looks like part and parcel of the whole corporate class warfare agenda to me.

    • BHA_in_Vermont

       They would be “takers” if they got paid ;)

  • MaxBTV

    Can employers ask whether an internship was paid or unpaid? That doesn’t seem quite right…

    • Kyle

      They often ask what you were paid in your most recent position.  Its a question that can be asked for one of two reasons.  1. They are afraid they won’t be offering high enough and want your input to make sure they aren’t lowballing you, or 2. they are hoping to pay you less then they originally thought they would have to.  Either way they are trying to pay based on the individual’s history and not the value of the position. 

  • sharlyne1

    Internships are nothing more than a tool to exploit students while demeaning their future earning potential. Corporate America is creating a deeper chasm between the wealthy and the working poor. 

  • Yar

    We have internships for the poor, it is called military service.  Our service members are not fully paid for the service they provide, even though they are paid something.

  • Aaron H.

    I remember attending a job fair in Manhattan in 2002 that was put on by idealist.org.  There were mostly non-profit orgs that were there & looking to hire.  I remember adding my resume to a pile of them that was set up on the fold out table for each of the respective employers and couldn’t help but peek at some of the others.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Lots of bullet points on the resumes for all kinds of big name groups not to mention all the “volunteer service” in various 3rd world countries in Africa, Asia, etc.  I thought to myself “if only I didn’t have to make rent or pay bills then maybe I could have worked on clean water in Uganda” thus making my resume appear more worthwhile. Having wealthy parents is the key for those trying to get any coveted internship.

  • sickofthechit

    A relative of mine spent 8 weeks in a southern city this past spring at their own expense working for a “Christian” company as an unpaid intern.  The company is currently implementing some of their ideas into their day to day operations without paying any compensation whatsoever. The relative is hanging around in that city working a low wage job “hoping” to eventually obtain a position with that company. (name, gender, and locality withheld to protect their identity).

    P.S.(She has a college degree!).

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

      I hope your relative isn’t ashamed to admit what s/he has to do to get a start in the workforce. Interns, underemployed, slaves…pretty much the same outcome for all. Band together, interns, and speak up! Shame gets you nowhere.

      • shawn dones

        Slaves? Thats a misuse of words. Slaves don’t have freedom of choice. NO ONE has to become an intern. 

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia

          The choice of no choice amounts to the same thing.

          • shawn dones

            LoL so everyone should have the choice to work anywhere regardless of their skillset or experience?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000570151428 Jo Bleaux

    A reason employers are requiring unpaid internships? Simple, they get something for nothing. A quick look at my local Craigslist shows many, many employers are trying to get in on this. Unless the intern is planning a career in making coffee and running papers across town, there’s not much in it for them.

    • TomK_in_Boston

      Bust the union, steal the pension fund, move jobs to Bangladesh, make the kids work for free – can anyone not see the perfect consistency?

  • sickofthechit

    We no longer have enough money for them to steal, now they are stealing our time.  Scoundrels without scruples.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      Conscience has no place in a Corporatocracy.
      If Corporations are people they are Sociopaths.

      • Don_B1

        While the wealthy “elites” run their businesses as if morality does not apply, they demand that austerity be applied by government as if the whole economy was a morality play, and punishment needed to be applied to “correct” the problems in the economy.
        Funny how it is the middle and lower classes that must be punished for what they did not do, and suffer from a lack of jobs overall and a lack of well-paying jobs in particular.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ian.macdonald.9638 Ian MacDonald

    I’m an 40 year old and I changed careers to environmental engineering after losing my former job. I went back to school and I have the skills but cannot get a foot in the door. The 22 year olds I went to school with, generally have no families and can do unpaid or low paid internships. I’d take it if I could but cannot afford to work for free.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

      Can you afford not to work at all?

  • Bill98

    If the school will grant course credit for the internship, and limit the number of hours that can be required by the employer, this can help to address the issue where only the well-off can afford to take an unpaid internship.

    I worked at a community college where this was the norm, and it worked out very well.  Our graduates were able to work their normal job for pay, but were still able to gain experience for their resumes.

  • sickofthechit

    TOM, What of WBUR’s interns?

    • mhollis

      Please see my comment above. Radio, like television, is a hard field to get into. So interns tend to be used to substitute for people who would have been paid.

    • Don_B1

      Usually individuals (and sometimes companies) acknowledge benefits from their activities or contributions on an issue.

  • http://www.facebook.com/leonard.bast.90 Leonard Bast

    And now, at last, we hear from the academic shill for corporate America. I’m an academic, and, believe me, people such as Ms. Schilling don’t work for the students or for the university or for the people of their states or of the nation. They work for America’s business elite. She’ll speak all the jargon and give all the double-talk required of her life’s chosen path, and all in the service of big money.

    • jefe68

      I was just thinking the same thing.
      This woman is spinning a lot of bunk in my view.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=14100563 Jillian Nowlin

    We’re going down the wrong path in this country by normalizing the current culture of the “internship” in this country. I’m 27 and thank God I have a full-time job, but I’ve had internships. These internships were good experience, but I made sure that I had autonomy over my activities because they were unpaid and that there was an end point. But there was one time that a lady wanted me to intern for her almost full-time without payment for an indefinite amount of time. She *hoped* that at some point she would be able to pay me a *stipend* but she couldn’t promise anything. I had to decline because ultimately that’s exploitative. Ultimately this is just another way to literally sell short our labor market.

    • jefe68

      The law stipulates that anything over 20 hours is ilegal as is not paying for someones time if it’s a for profit company.

      • Don_B1

        Is that a Federal law or just the law in some states?

        • jefe68

          To my knowledge that’s the law in state of Massachusetts. 

          The Federal law is a little more open to letting for profit companies hiring unpaid interns if they meet the criteria.

          That said, the laws are not enforced.
          I’ve known of students working 30 plus hour internships for no pay with only the promise of possible employment or a short term contract.  This is common in the game sector all over New England. 


  • LizRyanCole

    I created and directed a wonderful law school apprenticeship for 29 years – Watch what schools are getting away with these days – they too often collect the tuition heck but don’t select/coach/support students and mentors. A well structured and supervised apprenticeship can be a life changing experience but consumers must insist on a benefit to the apprentice.  The Fair Labor Standard Act assumes that one can’t learn in a for profit setting and this is incorrect.

  • ChevSm

    I wonder if this increase in the amount of internships has any correlation to so many colleges now requiring internships for graduation.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/SHSL15 Sinta Seiber-Lane

    I had an unpaid internship in college.  In my case, I was at school on an athletic scholarship & was only allowed to make what my scholarship did NOT pay for.  Mine was a full scholarship so I was required to NOT be paid – thanks NCAA! It worked for me but obviously not everyone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/juris.debtor Juris Debtor

    Biggest scam is in law school.  Per ABA rules, cannot concurrently income and credit for work/internships.  Lotta places getting free legal work.

    • http://www.facebook.com/juris.debtor Juris Debtor

      And the ABA caps the hours one can work per week while in school (20 hours).  Really crimps the amount of experience you can gain while trying to earn income to keep loan debt down.

    • mhollis

      My nephew did that while in Law School. Worked for a law firm that was representing American Indians in South Dakota and worked HARD all summer. I think this was between his first and second years. I don’t think he particularly felt “badly done by” but a lot of his education was paid for by the US Army (he is currently a Captain in the JAG Corps). 

      But that law firm? Certainly billed for the work their unpaid intern did.

  • Sbrin

    A lot of colleges do not allow you to receive credit for an internship. This makes students have to find loopholes and what not in order to take an internship. While I understand credit may make the internship more legal, it really complicates finding an internship.

  • http://www.facebook.com/beth.jacobs.54 Beth Jacobs

    should be illegal but not Bangladesh for sure completely unfair to lower class and creates a false sense of learning

  • Jim

    Corporations are preying on our future generation knowing there is nothing they cannot do but internship… a door to full employment.

    Worse… many internships today are unpaid… that, my friend, no matter what you think is a felony.

    it is a another way to enhancing CEO and VP pay scale. 

    My internship was quite useful at Carnegie Mellon University doing some Yahoo! research in electrical engineering. but i know many internships are simply a job in a mail room, not technical and/or sexy. 

    I wish these new and future graduates best wishes… 

    • Inthefloodzone

       And meanwhile, the low-skill unemployed could use that mailroom job!  Re Juris Debtor above, it’s the race to the bottom in terms of wages, fomented by a capitalist system that can’t function to its satisfaction without paying rock-bottom wages, or better yet, zero.

  • Kyle

    glad I chose an engineering degree.  Got several paid internships and a job right out of college.

  • shawn dones

    Internships are a win-win.

    • http://www.facebook.com/leonard.bast.90 Leonard Bast

      You’re either a troll or an incredibly simplistic thinker.

      • shawn dones

        Simplistic thinker :) 

      • Don_B1

        Internships can be a win-win for the student if, a BIG IF, the student does not need the internship to pay enough to live on and cover at least some school costs.

        Otherwise they are a win for the employer and a loss when a talented student cannot afford to not get paid.

  • http://www.facebook.com/juris.debtor Juris Debtor

    Why would companies ever permanently hire/pay an intern when there is a strong flow of students/graduates looking for internships and are willing to do it for free?  Internships create a race to the bottom (of wages).

  • Omaha Guy

    When you apply this law equally to ALL legitimate businesses, then you get equal lack of protection of the law.

    For instance, in states where brothels are legal, there will be no legal premise for denying a high-end brothel from having young women work their first year as an unpaid intern.

    A rule of thumb, if it’s not legit in a brothel, it isn’t fair anywhere else.

  • http://www.facebook.com/beth.jacobs.54 Beth Jacobs


    this lady is nuts

  • Susie Saska

    I am currently a paramedic intern in upstate New York. For our area – and statewide I believe – and unpaid internship is required. Fortunately for me, my unpaid internship has led to the possibility of a job with my intern agency. However, for most interns in this field in my area, the internship rarely leads to a full time position or even a per diem position. The internship has been incredibly beneficial for me, and has led to me being a much more confident paramedic. I understand why the internship is required for these reasons, but for 99 percent of us working full time is EMS and trying to complete an unpaid internship leaves us working somewhere in the neighborhood of a hundred hours per week. It’s exhausting, but totally worth it.

  • rosie1960

    After college graduation my daughter after did an intership for a up and coming fashion designer in NYC.  They paid her nothing worked her to the bone and offered full time employment as a perk.  They hired her just before fashion and market week full time worked her 75 hours a week and then terminated her employment 2 weeks after market week!!!  I have heard that this is a standard practice in the haute couture fashion industry.

  • Rick Evans

    HEY TOM!, Are BUR/NPR interns paid? How much? Just askin’.

  • Unterthurn

    As an employer we used to look at for university degrees and the grades, but that just gave us educated people with too little work experience. Those people are no long with us. We now weigh experience more. If an applicant can convince us this is the job they want and they are willing to go to night school we will take them and support their development. We also have great experience with single mothers, but perhaps one wouldn’t apply with us unless you had all the bells and whistles in the first place.

    • Inthefloodzone

       Why wouldn’t you consider training on the job?  But I guess that isn’t being done anymore, either, right?

  • Athena333

    It’s difficult especially as a college student during the summer to intern, where one is expected to make money while also doing as much as they can to build a resume. You work harder than ever for free for a potential employer that may never even pay off, but you doomed if you don’t intern. I am borrowing $10,000 from my parents this summer to ship across the country for an oportunity that may or may not pay off.

    • Inthefloodzone

       Good luck!  And don’t put all your eggs in one basket, as they used to say.

  • SjMills

    My wife directs a regional non-profit and uses student interns.  She has had a few excellent interns who have come on board after graduation to paid positions.  For my wife, it’s a long-term interview; for the interns it’s that same interview and entry level training/experience.  With an awareness of the issues discussed today and respect for the students ‘working’ for free it is a fair process for both parties.

    • Inthefloodzone

       Another non-profit that’s doing it right.  The “long-term interview” — that’s exactly the right way to look at it.  You are checking each other out.  That has always been and apparently still is the function of the internship, paid or unpaid.

  • Jim

    and to the corporations:
    Watch out… yes, today is still an employer’s market… but once demand picks up,… and the labour force tightens, everything can change. Be nice and pay your labour force whom you hire as interns. be a value citizen instead of being scrooge. be a leader instead of a loser.

    • Kyle

      They’ll adjust when that changes, not before.  They might lose a little talent during the transition phase, but will quickly fill those jobs once they start paying.

  • http://www.thisoneisbroken.blogspot.com |k|

    I’ve had 4 or 5 unpaid internships and a few “volunteer” positions. A few years after college I quit my low-paying job, moved back home with my parents, and did a few more unpaid internships. Paid internships? I have rarely heard of such a thing. They just don’t exist. I went to good schools and had good grades, academic awards, etc. Whoever on the program said kids in better schools have better internships is wrong. They’re just like all the others: you sit there while they attempt to occupy you for however many hours you need. Not that helpful! Internship supervisors always say, “Too bad we’re not hiring now or we’d hire you.” Places are laying off, not hiring. I’m still not sure if all those internships were worth my time.

    • Kyle

      Seems like the standard of paid vs unpaid depends on the sector.  What was your degree and what kind of work are you looking for?

      • http://www.thisoneisbroken.blogspot.com |k|

         My B.A. is in Human Ecology, and my M.S. in Interactive Media (essentially, Communications). My first internship, which was also a work-study position, was caring for gardens and animals at a children’s museum. (The college didn’t have enough work-study jobs to meet the need so they’d farm students out to local businesses.) Then I interned at an animal shelter. Next, while working full time, I volunteered at a environment/nature museum. Then I moved home, worked part time, and interned for a Planned Parenthood chapter. After that I continued working part time and interned as a writer at the Office of Communication at a college. Then, still while working part time, I interned with a local production company. Then I enrolled in my graduate program (which I am about to finish), continued working part time, and interned in the corporate communications office for the local public radio station. Then I got a full-time entry level job (while still enrolled in school), so now I’m working and about to finish my M.S. All great experiences, but did they help me? Will they help me find a higher paying job? I’m not sure. But that’s life in this economy. I’m lucky that my parents allowed me to move back home while I worked and went to school. I definitely understand why people say it’s unfair that people without someone–like parents–to fall back on are at a disadvantage when it comes to taking internships. It’s expensive to give up the time, pay to have a car, and pay for gas money in order to intern.

    • Don_B1

      When the work that you were expected to perform was discussed before you accepted it, was it different from what you experienced when you started the apprenticeship?

      What was the response when you asked about the difference if there was one?

      • http://www.thisoneisbroken.blogspot.com |k|

        The work was usually what was discussed, but there was never enough to do. I’d be there 4 hours but only have an hour of work. I think it was a valuable experience when I was working, but the hours of doing nothing plus the commutes plus not getting paid were negatives.

  • http://www.facebook.com/beth.jacobs.54 Beth Jacobs

    This woman is already out there she works at a rich school

  • J P Fitzsimmons

    Gave up listening to this Schill.

  • Billdave

    This is yet another way that management is becoming a caste system.  The working class simply can’t afford the price of entry, the poor are even worse off.  That universities are complicit in this system explodes the myth that academia is full of socialists.

    • Inthefloodzone

       Academia probably has never been “full of socialists” except among some faculty departments.  The business managers of universities are cold-hearted agents of finance who are seldom known to let an opportunity to cut a profit slip from their grasp.

      • mhollis

        Academia is “full of Socialists” or “full of Communists” to the extent that the speaker wants to dismiss the work of highly trained, learned professors because of the speaker’s political bias. 

        This is also true of the “left wing bias of media” and the “left wing bias of ‘the mainstream’ media.” This is rhetoric that is designed to class all persons who disagree with one’s talking points as, somehow, Socialist, Communist or “left wing.” 

        As such, it’s an ad hominem attack on anyone who does not instantly agree with the speaker. And rhetoric like this ought to disqualify the speaker entirely. It’s a latter-day brand of McCarthyism.

  • Clairskyk

    I work at a campus women’s center that offers opportunities to students that are truly skill-building, foster leadership and teach students how the non-profit world works. These are young people who often want to go into “movement”work. We have no budget to pay them, just like private non-profit organizations, which also depend on interns and volunteers in order to do their work. We also require that our interns take a semester-long course that gives them theories of global social justice, so that the theory becomes practice. Many of our interns have gotten great jobs after graduation.

    • Inthefloodzone

       It sounds as if your campus women’s center has it right regarding internships. . . . “skill building, leadership, how the non-profit world works” — not taking over jobs that would normally go to qualified paid employees.

      • Clairskyk

         Thanks for your comment! We are consistently amazed at the students who walk through our doors, ready to change the world (we give them a reality check). However, I totally sympathize with those who are stuck in corporate internships in  other businesses that have the money to pay a real salary.  That’s simply slave labor.  Even our internships are exploitation–I am quite up front with the students and they seem surprised that I call it that.  But sadly, the grassroots non-profit world (such as homeless shelters, domestic violence programs, sexual assault centers, etc.) are so poorly funded and have such a huge mandate that they couldn’t survive without interns. Even the paid staff  are underpaid.  University women’s centers are no better off than community agencies, frankly. And while there are many psychic rewards for this work, push comes to shove, you gotta pay the rent. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/beth.jacobs.54 Beth Jacobs

    it makes you if you are rich enough to go to school and not work a slave to the collage it puts money in the coffers of collages and makes the work place a play ground for the upper class

  • DrewInGeorgia

    “How do they do that?”
    It’s all about who you know Tom, stop asking questions you already know the answer to.

  • Sbrin

    I actually think grants put students in the Middle Class in an awkward position. You are not able to get grants but also you can’t afford an unpaid internship.

    • Inthefloodzone

       Yup, you can get a student loan that you may or may not be able to repay on time, if ever . . . The ol’ double-bind, works every time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/beth.jacobs.54 Beth Jacobs

    give none of my hard earned tax dollars to any school or business that does this

  • hctahkram

    I can’t relate to the experiences I’ve been hearing about Internships.

    I’m a computer engineering major at Northeastern University. I have worked three six-month co-ops at medium to very large companies.

    I have been paid 20$+ an hour for each one. I’ve got great job experience, good references, and probably a job out of college.

    I’m already contributing to production code for real products and have become a valuable member of the team.

    If you aren’t doing real work, in a field that isn’t really in demand… what exactly did you expect?

    (Not to say that I don’t feel sorry for people that aren’t getting paid to work…)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=14100563 Jillian Nowlin

      And what exactly is “real work, in a field that isn’t really in demand?” Just because everyone can’t or doesn’t want to write code doesn’t mean that their skills aren’t of value. And besides, you’re missing the point. This isn’t about what is real work versus what isn’t real work. This is about people who are committing very real energy, skills, ideas, and hours to non-profit or for-profit organizations without any compensation. People’s time and efforts deserve compensation. Of course that compensation is dependent on the level of skill and expertise they exert, but compensation is deserved nonetheless. I would say that you are a very rare example of how an internship should function for student, but I would not say that your experience is typical.

      • hctahkram

        Sorry, that was not the message I meant to send when I was asking “What do you expect?”. I am 100% in accordance with your comment, and everyone should be compensated in some way. (min. wage at least).

        When I said “real work”, I think I appeared to be talking about my industry, when I’m not talking about programming at all. I meant being able to contribute and add to the company in a significant way. And if you are committing very real energy, skills ideas, hours to a company, then yes they obviously should be paying you… probably much more than min. wage.

        A lot of these internships are 2-3 months, and that’s barely time to get up to speed, and acquire real skills to add meaningful value to a company. A lot of times the amount of effort to get an intern up to speed is 2 months. In companies in industries where there isn’t much capital to begin with… I can start to see why they love this system so much. Cheap labor to do all the work you don’t want to do… all in the name of “experience”.

        • Inthefloodzone

          They should pay even if you are NOT “committing very real energy, skills ideas, hours to a company.”  The point is that you are doing work required of you, for which the law says you need to be compensated.  You don’t have to be Einstein to “deserve” fair payment for your labor.

          • hctahkram

            First part of my reply was “everyone should be compensated in some way. (min. wage at least).” I’m unsure if you missed that.

      • Don_B1

        I think the ability to do math, as in hctahram’s profession, gives an intern the ability to do productive work with less, but still necessary, mentoring, which makes getting an internship, and a (well?)-paying one to boot, easier and one for which companies have no excuse, not even the flimsy ones so often used in other endeavors, for not paying.



  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003767130030 Jane Traveller

    I am the parent of a William and Mary 2013 grad.  My daughter got an unpaid internship at a Embassy in Washington, DC for the summer through the college.  It wasn’t the money we paid to support her that summer that bothered me; it was the meaningless work she was given to do that really frustrated me. So far my daughter has not found a full time job, and it seems the internship “povertunity,” as the NYTimes called it, has been meaningless.

    • Inthefloodzone

       When done correctly and legally, intern work is not supposed to be “meaningful” except insofar as the intern can extract a meaningful experience, build relationships, and use it to decide if the field is what she wants.  Too many college students have come to believe they will be given high-profile, responsible positions right out of the gate, a phenomenon known as the “sense of entitlement.”  Part of this is the colleges’ own fault, as they compete for tuition dollars by promising “success” and pie-in-the-sky.  And if your daughter has not so far found a full-time job, she’s has a lot of company.  You both need to be patient and persistent, and maybe a little bit humble.

  • J__o__h__n

    Colleges subsidizing unpaid internships for disadvantaged students will just raise the cost of college for the middle class.  This will help solve the problem as well as they think financial aid for the poor helps the middle class afford college. 

  • Omaha Guy

    Wait a minute….

    Have we been keeping whole countries as unpaid interns?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Valerie-Powell/100000615506877 Valerie Powell

    Your show reminded me of my horrible internship with a major regional theater company in 1983. They hired my husband and I out of college as technical interns for $135 per week. Minimum wage was 3.35 per hour at the time so it seemed fair. Little did we know that when we resigned seven months later that our regular work load would grow to 105 hours a week of heavy manual labor. We tore up carpet, demolished walls, painted, built sets, sewed costumes, shopped for props, took tickets, you name it.

     When we complained we were told that this was how it was in the real world and we should find some other line of work if we couldn’t hack it. (I’d been in the theater since I was twelve, so I knew differently.) Finally we resigned and turned this Theater Center in to the Labor Department. 

    Two and a half years later we received a letter from the Labor Department saying that the Theater Center had been wrong and that they owed us a substantial amount of back pay, but since the investigation had taken two and a half years and the statute of limitations on such claims was only two years that we would not be receiving any money.

    I worked for different theaters for the next twenty-five years and never witnessed the level of exploitation I saw in my internship.

  • Ken Pearson

    How many unpaid interns does NPR/PRI “employ”?

  • Robert Remeika

    Operation A.B.L.E in Boston works with job seekers 45 and older (mature workers), and offers a Midternship program, where professional level job seekers ‘work’ in a four-week, unpaid assignment or project with a non-profit or government organization.  In the Midternship, the job seeker applies his/her professional talents and expertise,  sharpens existing skills, and maintains a connection to the employer.  Several midterm candidates have been hired after the midternship because of the mutually valuable experience it was for both parties. 

    • Inthefloodzone

      No one should be made to do unpaid work, under any circumstances.  The U.S. Dept. of Labor has a program for workers over 55 called the Senior Community Service Employment Program, wherein workers needing to retool or reenter (or in some cases, enter) the labor force can be placed with eligible nonprofits to work 20 hrs/week for a 6-month stint.  Monthly meetings are mandatory, and an individualized training program is drawn up with the employer. Many SCSEP “volunteers” are well educated people, and many of these positions lead to at least regular part-time employment.  The USDOL pays minimum wage.  The rules say you can’t take any side employment to supplement this pittance.  Unless you have a second wage earner or are receiving Social Security, you can’t make it financially.  Somehow it appears the foes of the poor and unfortunate (e.g., the GOP) have their fingerprints all over these programs, which are merely bones thrown out after others have feasted.

      • Mac46

        Right church, wrong pew:  SCSEP was created during the LBJ administration as an anti-poverty program for “low-income” people 55+ who had no way of getting by otherwise. It has helped millions of people and is actually a program that is now in the GOP’s crosshairs.

  • sharlyne1

    I must disagree with Ms. Schilling and her internship/entry level expectations. As a recent grad within the last decade who first faced unemployment for 4 years before finding a full time paid position there is no difference between the entry level and internship opportunities. I graduated from NEU in 2004 with one paid co-op and an unpaid internship incorporated with my study abroad program.  Neither really helped me gain a job since it took four years post graduation. In a perfect world that should be the dichotomy leading into a successful career path, experiential education combined with classroom instruction, however this pairing is now defunct. Perhaps at one point in time it worked but it sure doesn’t add up now. In truth the whole higher education system is out of touch with the needs of the work force and current industries. Students are not properly educated in the classroom nor during the internship to be successful and financially independent. 

  • sharlyne1

    well said!

  • DrTing

    Internships, paid or unpaid, still do something to be useful, learn something or networking for the future. Rather than staying at home to be depressing & useless. 
    They do pay you with their time. They waste their time to train you or babysit you (if you are no good). They won’t let you go if you are good & they will pay you afterinternships (known as selfish DNA).

    • jefe68

      People should be paid for work, period.

    • Inthefloodzone

      You’ve got a huge attitude problem toward the unfortunate individual who has to “settle” for an internship.  If your attitude is shared in general among employers, this may help to explain why unpaid internships are rife.  “Rather than staying at home to be depressing & useless” — really?  
      “They (I assume you mean the employers) waste their time to train you or babysit you” — huh?  
      You make it sound like one step up from the notorious “welfare queen” of the Reagan Era.
      Unless you’re being ironic, of course, but I doubt it.

  • JTinRI

    There are certain professions where “internships” offer real opportunity for learning on the job.  I think of student teaching in particular.  The student teacher is under the wing of the master teacher to learn so many of those things that can’t be learned from a book.  But I wonder how much of this mentorship is provided to interns in for-profit corporations?  Or do they end up like interns in the Dilbert cartoons?  Doing all those menial tasks no one else wants to do – stuffing envelopes, getting coffee, etc.?  I can appreciate non-profits, like schools, mentoring interns but why should for-profits get free labor and offer little real mentoring?

    • jefe68

      It is my understanding that the student/teaching practicum is part of a course that leads to the degree and licensing. In other words they need to do a set amount of hours in a classroom.
      As you pointed out it’s not the same as other types of internships.  

      • 1Brett1

        I had to do a practicum before getting my degree. It wasn’t for long, and while I engaged in certain activities that people who were paid did in the agency, what I did was not “working.” This is very different than what I’m hearing about now with corporations asking people to actually do unpaid work for months on end. It sure seems an exploitation to me.

        • jefe68

          Brett, I was only on about student teachers, which are different than the exploitive corporate internships.

          • 1Brett1

            I should have probably hitched to the initial comment instead of yours,  as I was just adding my 2 cents worth in about my own experience (counseling) with practicums and how they are different from internships, at least the new face of corporate internships one hears about…no problem. 

    • Inthefloodzone

       Years ago I did a Master of Arts in Teaching, which involved a semester internship in public schools, with mentoring built-in.  I was paid, and I applied my pay to living expenses and tuition.  And in those days, non-profits could qualify to hire unpaid interns but, again, those interns were not allowed to work in positions that would be filled by regular paid employees.  They could look on, assist, learn what they could, but most definitely NOT do the work of a paid employee.  Have the rules really changed?  or is everyone merely flouting them?

  • mhollis

    There are some industries where you have to be pretty special to get a job. It is in these industries that internships certainly violate the rules. Two that I am aware of are the legal field, where my nephew worked all summer on a project that was being run by a law firm which did not pay him for his time (and certainly billed hours for his services) and in television.

    I worked over 25 years in television and can say with absolute first-hand knowledge that at NBC and ABC in New York the interns are un-paid, answering phones, doing work that production assistants and research assistants (that would be paid) should be doing and this has been going on for many, many years. At NBC, interns are given a “promise” that they will be offered a special consideration for the NBC Page Program (though one wonders if this truly is an offer of a job). 

    During the summers at NBC, we had interns that, typically, didn’t do much work. This is because the executives at the company would use their connections to get their relatives internship slots. And these interns were usually not very functional. During the fall and spring “semesters,” those interns worked a lot and did the most work that one might imagine ought to have been paid.

    I do know that interns were given handheld digital cameras right after September 11, 2001 and asked to get footage for air in dangerous situations. I also know that Dateline NBC used interns to do “hidden camera” projects. Now, this is the stuff of producers, associate producers and production assistants, not students in college. At the time, the company was wholly owned by the General Electric Company. ABC is owned by Disney. These corporations utilize their interns to get work done as a matter of course—without pay. And they generally have a waiting list, because the field is so hard to break into. 
    So, to answer the New York Times question: Yes. Absolutely. And more so in professions where one has a tough time getting an entry-level position.I certainly don’t see this happening at McDonalds.

    • mhollis

      Ah yes, Now, I have just received this from a company that offers employment opportunities in the mail. This is a direct quote of the message received:
      An employer just posted a job on [Name Withheld].

      This job – Intern (Motion Design) ((this is a no/low paid job/internship)) is located in New York, NY, and matches your resume!
      If you would like further details, or to apply for the position, simply click here. 
      OK, so you have been in college and you know motion design. You work with several different applications and you want some experience. By the description of this notification, I would say that the company offering this internship is most certainly replacing an entry-level worker with a lower-paid intern. Ah, but the intern gets practical job experience! And in their field!See how seductive this is for both sides? And also, do you see how this entirely violates the rules.

      • jefe68


  • ThinkMn

    We had some Venture Capitalists that wanted interns from OSU Fisher School of Business and from Computer Science & Engineering to work for the summer for free and pay $3,500 for the opportunity for housing and transportation. They were making Billions but wanted free labor? Really? Disgusting! How greedy.

  • ThinkMn

    The movie “The Pursuit of Happiness” with Will Smith really shows the evil of unpaid internships and its impact on the poor versus the rich. The academic credit nonsense still discriminates against the 99% vs the 1%. I would never take an unpaid internship. My labor is worth money.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Bradley/1370183824 David Bradley

    I have had such a hard time listening to this session.  I have hired college interns each of the last few years – not because we absolutely need the work but because we believe it is the right thing to do.  We give these students real world experience.  Right now we pay them.  A few years back, we did not simply because we couldn’t.  The implication was that it was only for the elite – wrong again.  The first interns we brought in were not paid and were absolutely middle class if not below.  We brought them in so that we could provide some assistance – not because of what they could do for us.  The show certainly would make us out to be the “bad guy” that seeks to take advantage of those less fortunate.  I am sorry  – I don’t buy it. 

    • jefe68

      OK you gave the students some real world experience and that, for some reason you deemed to worth their time. OK, did you pay their rent and feed them?
      If you can’t afford to pay the interns it would seem to me that not engaging in a program would be the decent thing to do. The right thing to do, is to pay people for their time, even if you’re training them.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Bradley/1370183824 David Bradley

             This was an age in which jobs were scarce for everyone, in which interns sought us for work experience knowing there was no pay but an opportunity for their resume.  Is it ideal?  No.  I wish we could have paid them.  They were local students home for college that were looking for business related experience.  Very frankly, had we not been able to put them to work, they would have probably been home watching TV.   The work we got from them was not essential and the value they added to our organization was minimal.  They were local college students that were looking for an additional boost for their resume.  All of the interns we employed, both paid and unpaid, were able to receive jobs immediately after graduation and I was a called upon reference for them.  The implication is that all internships, particularly those that are unpaid, are in critical and/or essential jobs. Almost all of us have jobs that we would LIKE for someone to do but are not essential to our success.  Likewise, for an unpaid internship, we were much, much more likely to work in their schedule – not them in ours.  For paid interns as we have now – much different. How long does the typical intern work – 2-4 months.  Considering in most jobs, it takes 3-5 months to adequately train someone to be effective in their job – and please don’t belittle that cost – we can’t seek or expect extraordinary things from interns. 
               Sometimes we are a callous society in which we think those that are in business are the big, bad guys all out for ourselves.  The tragedy is, I know of very few that are like that but it is so very easy, incredibly easy to point a finger instead. 

        • jefe68

          You sound like someone who cares and was into giving the students a leg up. 
          Which is to be commended and it would seem that this intern thing is pretty varied in terms outcomes and the way they are structured.

          Somehow that seems like a rare commodity these days, which is why a show like this aired.

          My daughter did a few internships which were unpaid. She enjoyed one and hated the others. Both worked all the interns to the bone.

  • ThinkMn

    I never did an unpaid internship and I found a job straight out of college in 1981.

  • ThinkMn

    Grad Students in engineering get paid $18k per year stipend. In industry w/their BS in Engineering they’d make 5+ times that amount. So they lose $80k per year on the average. 

  • Inthefloodzone

    These internships basically fall under the heading of volunteerism.  Does not federal labor law outlaw the practice of requiring volunteer labor to do substantive work for free that could otherwise be done by a regular paid employee?  Some years ago an organization I worked for looked into hiring an intern and it was very clear that the unpaid intern was NOT to do everyday tasks that a paid employee could be doing.  Has no one filed a complaint with the USDOL on this?

  • kirawnc

    I work at a bakery in Western North Carolina that has “employed” an unpaid intern.  I am disgusted by this decision because the starting pay as a baker is a mere $9.00 hr ( $7.50 for front of house)!  Having bakers is pretty important when you own a bakery, and if you can’t afford to pay them, maybe you shouldn’t be in business.  I’m sure the young lady will learn from this experience, but I can’t help but feel she is being taken advantage of.  In fact my boss came right out and said he was holding off hiring someone because they have an intern for the summer, and I quote “we don’t have to pay her”.

  • Inthefloodzone

    It would appear that the understanding of the value of labor has gone hand-in-hand with the gradual demise of unions in the U.S.  Farmers and the skilled trades also know the value of their labor, even though they are not always compensated fairly.  Once compensation becomes divorced from production, as in the typical salaried position, the sense of fair and equitable compensation becomes lost, because the essential measure of labor value is the mutually-agreed value of the end product.  Pushing paper, running errands, making phone calls, etc. have no identifiable monetary value, even if in some cases a deal that results in money might be rescued.  In the old days, your pay was determined by your worth to the employer to get the job done.  Nowadays, with money making money instead of getting invested to make things, it’s no wonder that the prospect of employing someone for free has become irresistible.  Yet on the other end, with every employee essentially a consumer under enormous pressure to stretch their paycheck to cover not only their own expenses but it seems the expenses of government, it’s clear that the only population that is able to use internships to their advantage are the people that don’t need to be paid in order to live. At least the real estate industry pays, even if only on commission.

  • YouGotItThatsMe

    I work for a small startup company. We all used to work for large companies that had a steady stream of Co-op students and we decided to continue it even though we are a very small company (12 employees). We hire Computer Science majors from Northeastern University. We pay around $28.00/hr for Masters students. What is nice about Northeastern is the internship is long, as long as 7 months. If it was only summer for 2 months we probably would not do it for Programming Jobs but we have for a other assembly type jobs. It really blows my mind that more schools do not do what Northeastern University does. I think it is TWOWAY. The students learn a ton and we get labor that is cheaper than full time. And fresh young minds with new ideas. These students will probably earn $70-$90K WITH solid internship when they graduate with a Masters. I can understand the non paid internships. It’s all supply and demand and that some jobs interns have to work for free. I think that’s fine. There is nothing broken. It’s Capitalism. There are other careers that there isn’t so much competition for students to find jobs (it’s competition between employers that pay to get them). It’s the Students Choice.

    • jefe68

      No it’s not the student’s choice. In some schools for the student to earn the degree they have to do an internship.

      • YouGotItThatsMe

        The Student chose the Career Path and the School. If they want that Career path that requires Unpaid Intern because that’s what the economy supports, then so be it. Nobody forced them down that path. That’s why I posted my example. For high demand Careers the Economy pays quite good for Interns.

        • jefe68

          Or for the love of libertarian inanity.

  • Don_B1

    If the future of college education is a bit off topic, the aspect presented here seems a bit related:


    It would seem that a form of internship might be even more important if businesses are going to continue withdrawing what they used to take as normal: in-house training of new employees at full starting salary?

  • jefe68

    Bakeries have interns?

    • kirawnc

      in this case yes! I don’t know if this is a common practice.  the intern works at red lobster at night. she might feel this is a great opportunity, but it just rubs me the wrong way. my apologies for posting this several times, i’m new to this. thanks for reading

      • jefe68

        I think this is beyond the pale. If the owner did say he does not have to pay this person, as opposed to hiring someone, then he’s breaking the law. 

        In the food service sector the lowest level job are dishwashers. They are paid a wage and some move up to become line cooks and more. 

        The man you work for is a pig if this is true. If it was me and I could find another job I would grass him.

  • Coastghost

    Simply Google “public broadcasting internships” to see just how widespread the unadvertised practice is and has been throughout the public broadcasting empire: PBS, NPR, and on down the line. YOUR Corporation for Public Broadcasting at work!

  • orwelllutz

    Easy answer: laws that allow industry to hire foreign people after only interviewing Americans;   and the destruction of effective fair labor standards and collective bargaining have delivered to the young not enough jobs for them.  Just think when artificial intelligence really takes off!

    But you knew that TOM

  • http://www.facebook.com/martha.staley.14 Martha Staley

    If internships are discriminatory then, so is education. In fact, education is MORE discriminatory since you not only aren’t paid to do it, you pay for it.

    • jefe68

      That’s absurd.

  • 216stitches

    I was listening to your show,  in the car, on my way home and at the break you asked “why” “why now”. I’l tell you. The answer is a simple one. The corporations sitting on trillions in off shore accounts have just figured out how to squeeze blood form a stone. FREE LABOR IS SLAVERY. They have these poor kids over a barrel.

  • George Platen

    Unpaid internships keep the rich rich since the children of the rich can “afford” to work for free. Those with lesser means are thereby permanently kept down. It is definitely unfair.

    “We have been taught that meritocratic institutions and societies are fair. Putting aside the reality that no system, including our own, is really entirely meritocratic, meritocracies may be fairer and more efficient than some alternatives. But fair in an absolute sense? Think about it. A meritocracy is a system in which the people who are the luckiest in their health and genetic endowment; luckiest in terms of family support, encouragement, and, probably, income; luckiest in their educational and career opportunities; and luckiest in so many other ways difficult to enumerate-these are the folks who reap the largest rewards.” – Ben Bernanke, Princeton Commencement Address, 2013

  • Grosvenor

    The guests claims are curious. Claim: unpaid internships actually hurt you in the job market. Claim: only rich kids can take them and that’s why they advance professionally. Which is it? Do they help or hurt?

  • Chris Michael

    From a [lean] startup perspective where we are barely able to pay ourselves, it’s absolutely ludicrous for us to hire someone, spend the time training them and paying the taxes on them without truly understanding what the individual can do. It’s simply too big of a risk for us. 

    What we absolutely don’t want is potential employees/interns more concerned about a paycheck than our company’s vision.

    We try to give just as much value to them, whether in coaching, building a portfolio, etc. as they give to us.  

    • MichaelWoon

      And apparently unpaid internships “hurt the economy.” Honestly, some people are so afraid they might be paid $0.25/hr and have no way of knowing how to increase their income if it weren’t a law. Frankly they don’t know why or how they are getting paid as much as they do now! Entrepreneurs *know* how to make a living. Glad to hear your perspective.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=43200281 Lucas Brauer

    I recently completed a paid internship at a design studio in Washington, DC. I certainly learned from the experience, but I’m now against the idea of internships. Internships are unfair and reduce the number of entry-level jobs and encourage employers to not invest in real entry-level positions. Paying your interns $10/h does not get you off the hook. 

  • C.K.

    I suppose ultimately, the question is one of a highly personal
    nature: What is your station in life? If you are rich, young, and
    healthy, you can get whatever you want. If you are poor, struggling, and
    older, no one is interested and it becomes a cultural, institutional,
    and then eventually I assume personal self fulfilling prophecy. Truly individuals that are wealthy get work because of that, they can afford to go to school full time and take summers off and do internships and not work.

    As a non traditional student, 30 year old white male, My FAFSA EFC is 0. That’s right. I’m poor. I also happen to be that way because I started my own business as a musician, working from small town Ohio up to the a recording contract with a premiere major funded label. Spin, Rollingstone, the whole thing. I signed at 22 and traveled until about 27 or so. Then the recession hit.

    Finding work at my station in life is difficult. I am qualified with many different creative and technical skills in the world of both performance and design. I have been able to find work as a free lance designer as well as work my way into internships OUTSIDE of school. I do this on my own time, while in school. How was I able to do this?

    I moved home. I live with my parents. I’m back in small town Ohio. It is not ideal. I do not make enough money to be self sufficient, and the interest on student loans is ticking away every class I take. Education is my step forward in a new direction. I have a 4.0 GPA, Honors, and I attend community college in order to transfer to a pub university. I do NOT expect to have a job that pays me enough to live when I graduate, because companies do not want to pay anyone, for anything, period. If they can get it for free or cheaper, they will, period, as a matter of shortsighted logic. 

    The pub university requires 2 internships as an undergrad to graduate. I am excited to take these positions, because I want the work experience. However, I just finished branding a web experience for a local company that is partnered with one of the largest video game publishers in the industry. I think that there needs to be some level of change here. Students who are taking entry level work as undergrads during internships are in fact taking away jobs for people looking for full time work. However, individuals that are willing to work hard deserve the opportunity to learn on the job as interns. So why don’t we turn internships into work studies?

    Internships could have a function of backpay. If the individual is hired, then they will be backpaid for their semester fees during their internship at no fault to the student (ie not pulling it from first years pay etc.) Companies that are shirking this responsibility shouldn’t be allowed to take on interns anyway. Unfortunately, trying to control individuals behavior as they try to not pay for anything, always, forever, you will only run into ingenius new ways for them to rip you off. So you can’t control these companies that want to just soak up the free labor and then always throw their hands up and say “oh well we couldn’t really HIRE anyone, haha, are you kidding?”

    The fear I have going forward: That my internships and my experience at a pub university after the community college will be as lackluster as my experience at the community college. I actually feel bad for the people I take classes with that are somehow unaware that this is a joke, that they will wonder why they can’t find work even with this education… until I realize that in the swing of things day to day under the gun of workload, I become one of those people.

    Will an internship solve any of that? Sign me up.

  • C.K.

    From the above USA Today link:

    “However, Isnardi cites a recent study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers that shows that
    36% of graduates received at least one job offer, compared with 37% of
    graduates who were unpaid interns and 60% of graduates who were paid
    interns. According to this survey, having an unpaid internship
    increases your likelihood of getting a job by only 1%.”

  • MichaelWoon

    Why isn’t anyone reporting on the millions of interns locked and caged on intern farms across America?!?! Oh, wait, no. All these internships employ consenting adults. Not brutally farmed intern-puppies starved and beaten.

    • dust truck

      consent usually required an informed decision without coercion.  It doesn’t help that the interns are usually lied to about their employment prospects, nor do they have much of a choice when there are no other jobs available.

      This isn’t consent, this is duress. 

  • davidyamada

    Yesterday a federal district court in NY held that two unpaid interns who worked on the Fox Searchlight Pictures production of “Black Swan” were entitled to compensation under federal and state minimum wage laws. The case also was certified as a class action. Here’s my blog post on the decision:

    It’s a major step forward for the emerging intern rights movement.

    David Yamada
    Professor of Law
    Suffolk University Law School, Boston

  • Don_B1
  • Laurie

    It may be helpful to also raise the question of why previous internships and experience are expected for entry-level jobs. Why are our colleges and universities not providing the knowledge and skills we need to go into the labor force? Why are they relying so heavily on third party sources (businesses, firms, gov’t, etc)? I just graduated and am having a HORRIBLE time finding a job in my field. I took vocational courses at a community college as well as my bachelor’s degree track. I also did an internship (paid) with the BLM. I still feel highly under-qualified when I look at the requirements that employers request in their job postings. What did I pay all that tuition money for?? Don’t get me wrong – I learned a lot, and I treasure every ounce of experience and life skills I picked up from just going through the higher education ladder. But so far, it’s not looking like it’s paying off. I can’t pay my st. loans, let alone start down the track of consuming that supposedly boosts the economy. 
    Also, how long is this “entry-level” phase supposed to last? I have friends who graduated almost 10 years ago, and they’re still waiting for raises and promotion opportunities. Maybe it’s a regional issue…. or industry issue? Just some thoughts. :) Good conversation, Tom!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=647215641 Joan Vignocchi

    In my software company, they recently laid off 2 technical writers. Since the work still needs to get done, they are proposing hiring an unpaid intern for 3 months (they say that’s the legal maximum length of time) to do the work. So it’s not just college students being exploited – they will lure someone in with the promise of work for free for us for 3 months, then we might hire you. And that’s a lie.

    • dust truck

      Lying: it’s the new capitalism.

  • ExcellentNews

    Throngs of unpaid healthy young people working for nothing for years on end? Piling up non-dischargeable debt at 15% interest to cover living expenses? Welcome to the “free market” economy, by the oligarchy for the oligarchy.

    And that is just the beginning! The next step of course is to make sure interns will “volunteer” for organ donations, should the CEO need a new liver or kidney. Think of the pride and career capital that an intern will get by donate a lung (or two) to the owner’s trust-fund progeny…

    And such progress would never happen without our business and banker elites leading the country forward! Power to the Club for Growth, to the Chamber of Commerce, and to the Trust Funds!!!

  • Miss_Lilianna

    The multinational companies only recruit interns at tier 1 & tier 2 universities. Google recruits at Boston College but not at UMASS.

  • TomK_in_Boston


    “…a federal judge in New York ruled this week that Fox Searchlight Pictures violated minimum wage and overtime laws by not paying interns who worked on production of the 2010 movie ‘‘Black Swan.”

    Good call. Legit traditional internships are one thing, but the current giant surge in their use is nothing but the corporate elite demanding free labor. Bust the union, ship the jobs to Bangladesh, have the kids work for free – can anyone really not see that there might be a pattern here :)

    • jefe68

      Good news, there is justice, sometimes.

  • busypoor

    I was a part-time para-professional in the classroom of a progressive public Cambridge school.  My job as well as others were replaced by student interns from Wheelock and Leslie.  They get payed less to work full-time than I did part-time.  The morale of the school is way down and the community has weakened because the staff turns over every fall.  Meanwhile I have 2 boys to put through college and am without a job.

  • Pingback: The Internship Economy | CFA Arts Leadership

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Aug 26, 2014
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, right, speaks with Ady Barkan of the Center for Popular Democracy as she arrives for a dinner during the Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium at the Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park near Jackson, Wyo. Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014.  (AP)

Multi-millionaire Nick Hanauer says he and his fellow super-rich are killing the goose–the American middle class — that lays the golden eggs.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Poutine Whoppers? Why Burger King Is Bailing Out For Canada
Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

Why is Burger King buying a Canadian coffee and doughnut chain? (We’ll give you a hint: tax rates).

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Why Facebook And Twitter Had Different Priorities This Week
Friday, Aug 22, 2014

There’s no hidden agenda to the difference between most people’s Facebook and Twitter feeds this week. Just a hidden type of emotional content and case use. Digiday’s John McDermott explains.

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Our Week In The Web: August 22, 2014
Friday, Aug 22, 2014

On mixed media messaging, Spotify serendipity and a view of Earth from the International Space Station.

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