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View Diary: Foreign students walk off the job at Hershey, claiming exploitation (94 comments)

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  •  I always figured it was better to have a job (7+ / 0-)

    digging ditches than to work as an unpaid intern, so that's what I did.

    I've supported myself since age 17 and never got a dime from anybody except from my work, so I would never have been able to afford being an intern anyway.

    Don't know for sure, but my impression is that the unpaid intern thing is increasingly common. It's pathetic.

    It is a calling...to do things about injustice.... It helps to have a goal. I've always tried to have one.--Ted Kennedy, True Compass

    by Timaeus on Thu Aug 18, 2011 at 02:32:45 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  unpaid internships might be illegal (5+ / 0-)

      IANAL, so I'll defer to your opinion on whether this is still current law or not.

      A common, but frequently unreported labor violation is the use of unpaid interns in violation of minimum wage and possibly overtime laws.  The scenario is fairly typical: a company offers an opportunity to ‘break into the business’ in exchange for the intern working for free.  You see many examples of this in the entertainment industry.  In fact, despite jobs sites such as Craigslist prohibiting the posting of unpaid “internships,” you can almost always find one posted.  Some companies try to get around the law by requiring that the internship be part of a college program.  However, there is no exception to the law allowed just because the “intern” may receive college credit.  While it might be possible for a college credit course to require some type of training for a company, the vast majority of these internships are in violation of Federal as well as California labor laws.

      In order to qualify as an unpaid internship, the requirement is simple: no work can be performed that is of any benefit at all to the company.  That is, you can not deliver mail, sort files, file papers, organize a person’s calendar, conduct market research, write reports, watch television shows and report on them, read scripts, schedule interviews, or any other job that assists the employer in any way in running their business.  

      However, I found this in the course of looking for information on a practice I've been hearing about, paying employers for the 'privilege' of an unpaid internship, and yes, there are people that desperate.

      Paying for an internship

      Some companies will find and place students in internships for a fee; such internships are mostly unpaid.[2] In some cases, companies charge to assist with a search, promising to refund their fees if no internship is found.[3] What the company includes in such paid programs can vary. The advantages are that they provide internship placements at reputable companies, provide controlled housing in a new city, mentorship and support throughout the summer, networking, weekend activities in some programs, and sometimes academic credit.[4]

      Another form of paying for internships is through charity auctions, where a company with an internship will select a charity to get the proceeds of the auction. In some cases, companies have created internships simply to help charities.[2]

      Fee-based programs, and charity auctions, restrict internship opportunities to students in wealthier families who can afford paying thousands of dollars while the student works for little or no wages, in exchange for improving professional work opportunities after graduation.[4]  But the head of one company specializing in such internships said that "The average student comes from the middle class, and their parents dig deep" to pay for it. His company funds scholarships and grants for low-income applicants.[2]


      Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Thu Aug 18, 2011 at 02:58:50 PM PDT

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      •  I've never looked into it, so I don't know the law (3+ / 0-)

        but that's terribly interesting.

        Unbelievably pathetic that anybody would pay for an unpaid internship!

        And FWIW I always thought unpaid internships smelled illegal.

        On the other hand, there are probably some of them that are related to course credit that are okay.  For example, when I was in law school, there was a program where you could design your own pro bono publico (that is, free legal services) program, and you got credit for it.  I set myself up as a volunteer for the ACLU writing political asylum briefs for poor people from Central America.  That was a kind of unpaid internship, I suppose, but I really did learn a lot.  I could afford that, since I was in night law school and had a regular, full-time job at the time.  (I used to be skinny in those days from all the running around!)

        It is a calling...to do things about injustice.... It helps to have a goal. I've always tried to have one.--Ted Kennedy, True Compass

        by Timaeus on Thu Aug 18, 2011 at 03:41:06 PM PDT

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        •  I can't find it right now (0+ / 0-)

          but when I was looking things up at google for that post, I saw a link to a Forbes article that advised businesses to stay clear of unpaid internships, that if they hire interns, they should pay them. Probably to avoid restrictions on what can they can legally be used for.

          Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

          by alizard on Fri Aug 19, 2011 at 02:24:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Depends on who you unpaid interned for (0+ / 0-)

      If you're still in your teens and under your parents' wing, while not moral, it can be a huge leg up to have a famous name on your resume going into college or that first interview.

      Just sayin'. There are reasons smart people do it. It blows that corporations won't pay for good work, but it might blow less than digging ditches if your parents are well off and you're still pretty young.

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