The unpaid internship

  • Article by: Cullen Seltzer , Slate
  • Updated: June 20, 2013 - 8:15 PM

They save their employers about $600 million every year by doing work people ought to earn money doing.

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nuzzunJun. 20, 13 1:57 PM

Unpaid internships--#17 on the list of "Ways to Maximize Profit by Cutting the Cost of Labor"! Forget stakeholders, forget the common welfare, forget the health of the nation's economy! Who's got time for long-term investment? Why take the risk of investing in true innovation (researching and developing new goods and services)? "Cheap Labor" is the name of the game....

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jdlellis1Jun. 20, 13 1:57 PM

Here's the problem with this line of thought and story. Yes, people are entitled to wages for their labor. In this country, individuals have the ability to say yes or no to an opportunity. So watch some goody two shoes or overzealot legislator introduce legislation using the force of government to force organizations to pay for internships. All of which is unecessary becuase in a free society, indivuals can so...no!

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pumiceJun. 20, 13 2:08 PM

Re: "So watch some goody two-shoes or overzealous legislator introduce legislation using the force of government to force organizations to pay for internships." No need, jdlellis1. The article reports that Judge William Pauley cited the Fair Labor Standards Act, a law already on the books which “does not allow employees to waive their entitlement to wages" and goes on to explain why: "That’s how the law prevents unpaid interns from exerting 'a general downward pressure on wages in competing businesses.'" Decades of stagnating income are evidence that the downward pressure on wages is real.

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xdweedxJun. 20, 13 2:09 PM

Whether you get paid as an intern or not depends on the demand in your field. As a scientist I have completed 2 paid internships, because they cant get enough people if they dont pay them. If you choose to go into a low demand field, thats your call.

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mowjo1Jun. 20, 13 2:21 PM

I did an unpaid internship at General Mills and I knew what I was getting into when I signed up. The experience was invaluable. It led to a good paying job and lifelong friendships.

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jdlellis1Jun. 20, 13 2:39 PM

pumice, Understand but you are missing my point. If an unemployed individual wishes to gain experience in a small flower shop and the owner has no margin to bring them on board. Where does that individual get experience? In this case, they get none in order to move or not move into the flower business. If the indivudual says yes, I'll come in for 2 hours every other day to learn then maybe I'll find I have a skill or maybe I don't like the flower business but thanks for allowing me in for a moment. Can't tell you how many times I tried somehting for interest and discovered this is or is not for me and several turned lucurative after the opportunity to intern.

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boris123Jun. 20, 13 2:55 PM

So, what is wrong with the market setting the need for paid internships? I thought so. Nothing. Internships are used by companies for recruiting high performing talent. The poor performer are weeded out. If you want to work in an industry and want to give yourself a edge over someone else, find an internship in that industry and do it. If it doesn't pay so what? If you need the pay, then you need to have your priorities right and you may not be able to have the expensive smart phone, dine out 5 night a week, and squander money or lose out on the edge to get in a career you want. Which do you want more? Only you can make that choice. This is not rocket surgery.

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jabuyerJun. 20, 13 3:02 PM

Ok, fine. We don't need interns so we won't hire them. Or we'll hire someone who'll be around for a long time (certainly not a student. Sorry kids, no experience for you. Look, now everyone can be narrow minded!

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tsundbyJun. 20, 13 3:04 PM

jdlellis - "If the indivudual says yes, I'll come in for 2 hours every other day to learn then maybe I'll find I have a skill or maybe I don't like the flower business but thanks for allowing me in for a moment." - this would fall under the term of 'trainee' due to the effect of the intern gaining experience for oneself with no/limited benefit to the flower shop. On the other hand, this story is about the intern that would go to work for 40, 50, 60 hours a week without being paid for the benefit of the company. Big difference between the two lines and the reason why this judge ruled the way he did.

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dschachenmeyerJun. 20, 13 4:59 PM

An interesting legal challenge to this would be the difference in definition between "unpaid internship" and "volunteer". I have volunteered on numerous committees (short and long term), events, and activities. I often did the same work as paid employee of charitable organization did, but for no pay. Does this ruling extend to volunteers as well? If not, why couldn't someone do "volunteer" work for a company?

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