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Change my view: Unpaid internships should be illegal


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One of my nieces just got denied a job in marketing because they don’t have enough experience post graduation. How is that fair to tell them take on unpaid work at the expense of missing bills etc? 

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3 minutes ago, STEADYMOBBIN 22 said:

That’s on par with the Uber eats dude who cried online that he isn’t paid enough after getting a $1 tip. 
 

If you don’t make enough money doing a job you should quit and find a new job.

Actually it’s not. It’s the only place in this country where people can legally have free labor (other than volunteering of course). It’s a scam and should be illegal. I could be persuaded that the job should be paid minimum wage, but they should not get hired help for free.

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My son did an unpaid internship this past summer.  He learned a lot.  By definition, the intern has to be the beneficiary of the relationship.  And he was.  He learned a lot and it will help him get a $150K+ job when he graduates.  He didn't complain once about not getting paid,  He and us know it's worth it in the long run.

If unpaid internships didn't exist, companies wouldn't do anything.  It's not like the company gets much out of a 19 year old unskilled worker that is likely to take a full time job elsewhere.  Now, the paid internships are meant to result in a long term job.  That benefits both parties.  He's got that setup for this summer.

If you don't want to do it, don't.  Go find a paying job.

 

 

Edited by Brunell4MVP
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6 minutes ago, Brunell4MVP said:

My son did an unpaid internship this past summer.  He learned a lot.  By definition, the intern has to be the beneficiary of the relationship.  And he was.  He learned a lot and it will help him get a $150K+ job when he graduates.  He didn't complain once about not getting paid,  He and us know it's worth it in the long run.

If unpaid internships didn't exist, companies wouldn't do anything.  It's not like the company gets much out of a 19 year old unskilled worker that is likely to take a full time job elsewhere.  Now, the paid internships are meant to result in a long term job.  That benefits both parties.  He's got that setup for this summer.

If you don't want to do it, don't.  Go find a paying job.

 

 

I guess my view and question revolves more around, how can it be legal?

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15 minutes ago, Brunell4MVP said:

 

If unpaid internships didn't exist, companies wouldn't do anything.  It's not like the company gets much out of a 19 year old unskilled worker that is likely to take a full time job elsewhere.  Now, the paid internships are meant to result in a long term job.  That benefits both parties.  He's got that setup for this summer.

The victim of the unpaid internship system isn’t your son.  It’s the person that can’t do the unpaid internship because he needs to pay his rent and eat.  And then can’t get the six-figure job later because he doesn’t have the experience that your son has.

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12 minutes ago, Cjw_55106 said:

I guess my view and question revolves more around, how can it be legal?

There are many carveouts in the mininum-wage laws. Many internships -- especially those aimed at students -- are probably considered training opportunities rather than employment.

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14 minutes ago, Cjw_55106 said:

I guess my view and question revolves more around, how can it be legal?

You are volunteering to work for free in exchange for getting experience you believe is worth the time you are putting into it.  If you don't want to do the job for free then don't do it.  It is not forced labor.  It is voluntary.

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Engineers pull down a salary that doesn’t account for most of the hours they work. I have a paid intern working for me on site at a client. I guess if you don’t like it, don’t do it. I never worked for free right out of college, but volunteering landed me my first paid summer job. 

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24 minutes ago, Cjw_55106 said:

Actually it’s not. It’s the only place in this country where people can legally have free labor (other than volunteering of course). It’s a scam and should be illegal. I could be persuaded that the job should be paid minimum wage, but they should not get hired help for free.

I am not sure how you are characterizing this as a scam.  If you went into the internship with the understanding you would get paid but then they did not pay you and you worked all summer then it would be a scam.  This is a known condition of the internship.  If you don't like it then don't do it.  You have a choice and know exactly what you are getting into.  There is no scam.

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7 minutes ago, fatguyinalittlecoat said:

The victim of the unpaid internship system isn’t your son.  It’s the person that can’t do the unpaid internship because he needs to pay his rent and eat.  And then can’t get the six-figure job later because he doesn’t have the experience that your son has.

This part seems to escape many people.  Maybe these other kids should have been smart enough to be born into a more well off family.

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7 minutes ago, Gally said:

You are volunteering to work for free in exchange for getting experience you believe is worth the time you are putting into it.  If you don't want to do the job for free then don't do it.  It is not forced labor.  It is voluntary.

So if my neighbor was a manager at Walmart and he had a very nice swimming pool and I agreed to work at Walmart 20 hours a week in exchange for free use of his pool, is that OK? I believe that would be against the law. Walmart is not allowed to do that. 

 

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8 minutes ago, Cjw_55106 said:

So if my neighbor was a manager at Walmart and he had a very nice swimming pool and I agreed to work at Walmart 20 hours a week in exchange for free use of his pool, is that OK? I believe that would be against the law. Walmart is not allowed to do that. 

 

Now you are discussing a barter system for services rendered.  It's like the concrete guy putting in a driveway for his neighbor the electrician in exchange for the electrician putting in landscape lighting in the concrete guys yard.  Should that be illegal?  If all parties are in agreement and know what the terms are it shouldn't be an issue.  

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4 minutes ago, Gally said:

Now you are discussing a barter system for services rendered.  It's like the concrete guy putting in a driveway for his neighbor the electrician in exchange for the electrician putting in landscape lighting in the concrete guys yard.  Should that be illegal?  If all parties are in agreement and know what the terms are it shouldn't be an issue.  

Well then it shouldn’t be an issue if I’m willing to work for a company for five dollars an hour, but it is.

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1 hour ago, wazoo11 said:

One of my nieces just got denied a job in marketing because they don’t have enough experience post graduation. How is that fair to tell them take on unpaid work at the expense of missing bills etc? 

Wait, did the employer explicitly state that she had to take on unpaid work? It sounds like she would have been hired if, for example, she'd had a paid internship somewhere.

 

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I honestly don't know how kids coming right out of school start off.  I was fortunate to go to a good grad school straight from college so I had a well paying job right from the beginning.   If you weren't able to get sufficient experience while in school (during the summer for instance) and you need to pay the bills (don't have the luxury of being able to live at home, be on your parents health insurance, have parents that will give you spending money), that puts you in a really tough spot; certainly a lot harder than those folks that have those parental accommodations. 

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3 minutes ago, Cjw_55106 said:

Well then it shouldn’t be an issue if I’m willing to work for a company for five dollars an hour, but it is.

There are labor laws and I understand that.  However, people do barter for services all the time outside the laws

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I don't agree with unpaid internship unless you are getting course credit. My son did 18months over 3 years of paid internships.

I just don't understand what that has to do with the op.   I didn't get a couple jobs because I didn't have enough experience

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1 minute ago, belljr said:

I don't agree with unpaid internship unless you are getting course credit. My son did 18months over 3 years of paid internships.

I just don't understand what that has to do with the op.   I didn't get a couple jobs because I didn't have enough experience

Why does course credit have to be a prerequisite for an unpaid internship?  The purpose is to gain experience whether you are getting school credit or not. 

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1 hour ago, belljr said:

What does not having enough experience have to do with an unpaid internship

It has replaced on job training, shrugs

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1 hour ago, fatguyinalittlecoat said:

The victim of the unpaid internship system isn’t your son.  It’s the person that can’t do the unpaid internship because he needs to pay his rent and eat.  And then can’t get the six-figure job later because he doesn’t have the experience that your son has.

There is a lot of discussion of this in the research world. A move to require pay for undergraduate students interning in labs the result would be that nearly all the opportunities would disappear. Many good internships are learning experiences that generate little to no value to the employer. 

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2 minutes ago, Drunken Cowboy said:

There is a lot of discussion of this in the research world. A move to require pay for undergraduate students interning in labs the result would be that nearly all the opportunities would disappear. Many good internships are learning experiences that generate little to no value to the employer. 

So what if the opportunities disappear? Then the same companies would eventually have to hire inexperienced workers as employees. 

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1 hour ago, Cjw_55106 said:

Actually it’s not. It’s the only place in this country where people can legally have free labor (other than volunteering of course). It’s a scam and should be illegal. I could be persuaded that the job should be paid minimum wage, but they should not get hired help for free.


I say tomato, you say “WAAAAAHHHHHH”. 
 

 

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56 minutes ago, NutterButter said:

I honestly don't know how kids coming right out of school start off.  I was fortunate to go to a good grad school straight from college so I had a well paying job right from the beginning.   If you weren't able to get sufficient experience while in school (during the summer for instance) and you need to pay the bills (don't have the luxury of being able to live at home, be on your parents health insurance, have parents that will give you spending money), that puts you in a really tough spot; certainly a lot harder than those folks that have those parental accommodations. 

You do know that the majority of people in this country DONT go to college, right? Many of them don’t have the support systems you mentioned. They make it happen on the daily. I was one of them. 

If you don’t have kids it ain’t that hard. You just have to work. 
 

People are being hyperbolic about the cost of living in this country. If you make $50-60k a year and you don’t have a wife or kids you can live like a G damn King. 

Edited by STEADYMOBBIN 22
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3 minutes ago, Cjw_55106 said:

No, I want to people that are doing work to get paid

They aren’t doing productive work. They’re doing what the majority of paid people do at places that offer internship - nothing. 

They have no experience and they bring nothing to the table. In fact, they’re more than likely a financial burden on the company. 

Now you want a company to pay for somebody that brings nothing to the table? 

 

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Just now, STEADYMOBBIN 22 said:

They aren’t doing productive work. They’re doing what the majority of paid people do at places that offer internship - nothing. 

They have no experience and they bring nothing to the table. In fact, they’re more than likely a financial burden on the company. 

Now you want a company to pay for somebody that brings nothing to the table? 

 

If that’s the case, then the internship or more importantly, hiring somebody that had an internship, doesn’t seem necessary

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7 minutes ago, STEADYMOBBIN 22 said:

You do know that the majority of people in this country DONT go to college, right? Many of them don’t have the support systems you mentioned. They make it happen on the daily. I was one of them. 

If you don’t have kids it ain’t that hard. You just have to work. 

If you're talking about high school grads, then the majority do in fact go to college.   Regardless, I thought we were talking about people graduating from college and needing experience to get their first job.  

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1 minute ago, Cjw_55106 said:

If that’s the case, then the internship or more importantly, hiring somebody that had an internship, doesn’t seem necessary

Hey man. I hope it all works out for ya. I honestly do. 
 

I do understand your point. I just think it’s not so black and white. 
 

GL bud. 

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3 minutes ago, NutterButter said:

If you're talking about high school grads, then the majority do in fact go to college.   Regardless, I thought we were talking about people graduating from college and needing experience to get their first job.  

I wasn’t.
We were and are currently.

You quoted my response to another individuals post. 

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1 hour ago, fatguyinalittlecoat said:

The victim of the unpaid internship system isn’t your son.  It’s the person that can’t do the unpaid internship because he needs to pay his rent and eat.  And then can’t get the six-figure job later because he doesn’t have the experience that your son has.

This.   There was a guy in my law school class who was able to get an unpaid internship with a sports agent because his father in law was rich.  I would have loved that position and I had much better grades and the guys at the agency firm really liked me, but I couldn't afford an unpaid position.

He ended up with a career in professional sports and has made tens of millions of dollars.  I ended up grinding my way through mid-level firms for 20 years.

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42 minutes ago, Cjw_55106 said:

So what if the opportunities disappear? Then the same companies would eventually have to hire inexperienced workers as employees. 

While its a fair point, that might not always necessarily be the case.  A lot of times, companies will try and squeeze more out of existing employees.  Or companies might outsource more.  I just don't think that its safe to assume that if companies can't find people with the right experience, they'll start hiring people without the right experience.  

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I'd be ok with making unpaid internships illegal with some conditions. The main one being that if you take a job with absolutely no experience (making you a total liability for a certain amount of time) you agree (via an actual enforceable contract)  to work for the company for a certain amount of time once your training is complete and you're actually contributing.  (obviously the time period would vary by position). Otherwise, you owe them some $$ back.

Good companies invest in people, especially young people new to their industry. But if you're spending a year getting a college kid up to speed and they jump ship to a competitor the second you've finished training them (once you're finally able to realize some value from your investment)  your motivation to train new people goes away pretty quickly.

Edited by Todd from Utah
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6 minutes ago, Todd from Utah said:

I'd be ok with making unpaid internships illegal with some conditions. The main one being that if you take a job with absolutely no experience (making you a total liability for a certain amount of time) you agree (via an actual enforceable contract)  to work for the company for a certain amount of time once your training is complete and you're actually contributing.  (obviously the time period would vary by position). Otherwise, you owe them some $$ back.

Good companies invest in people, especially young people new to their industry. But if you're spending a year getting a college kid up to speed and they jump ship to a competitor the second you've finished training them (once they're finally able to realize some value from their investment)  your motivation to train new people goes away pretty quickly.

I worked for a company that had something like that

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13 minutes ago, Todd from Utah said:

I'd be ok with making unpaid internships illegal with some conditions. The main one being that if you take a job with absolutely no experience (making you a total liability for a certain amount of time) you agree (via an actual enforceable contract)  to work for the company for a certain amount of time once your training is complete and you're actually contributing.  (obviously the time period would vary by position). Otherwise, you owe them some $$ back.

Good companies invest in people, especially young people new to their industry. But if you're spending a year getting a college kid up to speed and they jump ship to a competitor the second you've finished training them (once they're finally able to realize some value from their investment)  your motivation to train new people goes away pretty quickly.

I like the idea of that.  Does it seem reasonable that wage they'll get paid after that reduced pay training period be within the ballpark of what they can get elsewhere?

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Not to derail, but how was the demand for interns this last year with many places going WFH?  Couldn't have been good, right?

My son did a paid internship in marketing his last year of college and got college credit, but this was a couple years ago.  Is there a current supply and demand issue like someone else mentioned?  :shrug: 

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22 minutes ago, NutterButter said:

I like the idea of that.  Does it seem reasonable that wage they'll get paid after that reduced pay training period be within the ballpark of what they can get elsewhere?

Obviously we're all being vague here (in terms of "how much" and "how long and what "in the ballpark" means by %)  and each position is different. But if you're now "forced" to pay someone to be a trainee for a year (gaining basic, entry level knowledge and experience that they used to get as an unpaid intern) you have to get SOME sort of benefit for it on the back end. Otherwise, what's the motivation? You're better off just waiting until someone else trains a smart college grad and then hiring them away for a small raise.

Lets say the "paid intern" (who is basically useless for a year. Again, period of "uselessness" will vary) makes 30K for the year.   A competing company is willing to pay them 55K to steal them away once they're ready to contribute to the bottom line . You're only willing to pay them 45K. (since you just paid them 30 for a year of doing nothing but learning on your dime)  Is it "fair" that you lose that person?  You're not competing on a level playing field with the competitor. They're paying 55K for 1 years of production while you're basically paying 85K (since you got nothing out of them for the first year) if you have to match.

At the end of the day, any parameters would have to be agreed to ahead of time. If you're the trainee, and you agree that you'll be paid 45K for your 2nd year...tough noogies if someone else tries to steal you away with a small raise. Can't have your cake (a year of salary for training) and eat it too (the best salary the market will bear).

Or, you can....but you're forced to pay the first company back a certain % of your salary (which you'd then have to factor in as part of the pros/cons of leaving)

Seems fair to me

 

edit: Full disclosure.....I was basically a paid trainee at my first job out of college. I was paid a very competitive salary (plus my company put me up in a hotel all summer along with 30+ other trainees) to learn on the job. I'd estimate I was fully useless (beyond grunt work)  for probably 5-6 months, the equivalent of a half-person for another 6 or so and then a full contributor after that.  Ended up being a not so good investment for the company as several of my classmates quit pretty quickly after being trained and a big chunk of the rest of us (including me)  left the company about 18 months later due to a major restructuring that resulted in a bunch of offices closing/consolidating). Wasn't my choice and I would have stayed otherwise. There just wasn't a position for me unless I wanted to relocate.

 

Edited by Todd from Utah
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59 minutes ago, the rover said:
2 hours ago, fatguyinalittlecoat said:

The victim of the unpaid internship system isn’t your son.  It’s the person that can’t do the unpaid internship because he needs to pay his rent and eat.  And then can’t get the six-figure job later because he doesn’t have the experience that your son has.

This.   There was a guy in my law school class who was able to get an unpaid internship with a sports agent because his father in law was rich.  I would have loved that position and I had much better grades and the guys at the agency firm really liked me, but I couldn't afford an unpaid position.

He ended up with a career in professional sports and has made tens of millions of dollars.  I ended up grinding my way through mid-level firms for 20 years.

If it had been a paid internship, do you think that you would have been picked over the guy with the rich dad?

 

Edited by Sea Duck
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The crazy thing about unpaid internships is that on average, they don't really help kids get better jobs or better pay once they graduate. The data on this is pretty damning: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/06/do-unpaid-internships-lead-to-jobs-not-for-college-students/276959/

Quote

The common defense of the unpaid internship is that, even if the role doesn't exactly pay, it will pay off eventually in the form of a job. Turns out, the data suggests that defense is wrong, at least when it comes to college students.

For three years, the National Association of Colleges and Employers has asked graduating seniors if they've received a job offer and if they've ever had either a paid or unpaid internship. And for three years, it's reached the same conclusion: Unpaid internships don't seem to give college kids much of a leg up when it comes time to look for employment. 

This year, NACE queried more than 9,200 seniors from February through the end of April. They found that 63.1 percent of students with a paid internship under their belt had received at least one job offer. But only 37 percent of former unpaid interns could say the same -- a negligible 1.8 percentage points more than students who had never interned.  

The results were even worse when it came to salary. Among students who found jobs, former unpaid interns were actually offered less money than those with no internship experience.

"While there's a stark difference between having a paid internship and no internship in terms of offer rates and median salary, it all pretty much seems to wash away when you're talking about unpaid internships versus no internships at all," Edwin Nace, NACE's research director, told me.

Those findings dovetailed with data I tracked down from Intern Bridge, a widely cited consulting firm that specializes in college recruiting. The firm runs a huge annual survey of intern salaries, and I asked them to pull some unpublished numbers from their 2012 poll. Their findings showed that college students were about twice as likely to receive a job offer at the conclusion of a paid internship than at the end of an unpaid internship. 

 

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2 hours ago, STEADYMOBBIN 22 said:

Hey man. I hope it all works out for ya. I honestly do. 
 

I do understand your point. I just think it’s not so black and white. 
 

GL bud. 

I appreciate that, but this thread really doesn’t apply to me. It will likely apply to my kids in the near future. 

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4 hours ago, fatguyinalittlecoat said:

The victim of the unpaid internship system isn’t your son.  It’s the person that can’t do the unpaid internship because he needs to pay his rent and eat.  And then can’t get the six-figure job later because he doesn’t have the experience that your son has.

Thank you for making such an important point that I had honestly never considered. I obviously had a major blindspot on this topic.

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5 hours ago, Cjw_55106 said:

I guess my view and question revolves more around, how can it be legal?

For the same reason it's legal for colleges to use student labor, whether that labor is helping a professor on his research project, or helping a sports team win games.

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56 minutes ago, Judge Smails said:

We don’t do a ton of internships but they are all paid

Same here, but our area (engineering) has plenty of opportunities for paid work as students, so an unpaid position wouldn't garner much interest.

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3 hours ago, Sea Duck said:

If it had been a paid internship, do you think that you would have been picked over the guy with the rich dad?

 

Very likely it would have been me or one of two other people in the class that had better grades than this guy.  I was the only person in the class that aced the final, which was revising an actual NFL player contract to more favorable terms for the player.  When I discussed my final with the visiting professor (a former player agent who went on to bigger things), I learned of the unpaid internship.

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