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Change my view: Unpaid internships should be illegal


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14 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.

I’m typically aligned with you on many things but on this one my feeling is we don’t need to change anything.  I have a hard time considering these folks victims - people frequently have to pass up “better” opportunities in life due to their personal situation. Additionally, the ones doing the internships have the choice to do them.

More to the point, I’d rather see us implement BIG as a method to take care of the poor and allow some folks to pursue their dreams without worrying about essentials.  

Edited by AAABatteries
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3 minutes ago, AAABatteries said:

I’m typically aligned with you on many things but on this one where my feeling is we don’t need to change anything.  I have a hard time considering these folks victims - people frequently have to pass up “better” opportunities in life due to their personal situation. Additionally, the ones doing the internships have the choice to do them.

More to the point, I’d rather see us implement BIG as a method to take care of the poor and allow some folks to pursue their dreams without worrying about essentials.  

I’m surprised the entitled or race card hasn’t been played here.  Actuality this would be Exhibit A by the left.  

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2 minutes ago, FairWarning said:

I’m surprised the entitled or race card hasn’t been played here.  Actuality this would be Exhibit A by the left.  

1. This isn’t the PSF so best not to take the discussion in this direction.

2. This has been a good discussion with solid points made on both sides (IMO).  Let’s not get the thread locked.

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Most of the internships that students do at my university are paid, but it varies by field.  In some disciplines, unpaid internships are nearly unheard of, while in other disciplines they're pretty common.  Lots of political science majors do unpaid legislative internships, for example.  I don't think I've ever heard of a graphic designer doing an unpaid internship.  It probably happens, it's just that I've never encountered such a situation and it wouldn't surprise me if their disciplinary accrediting body disallows them.  

My knowledge of labor law is not up to the minute, but we got some new administrative guidelines flowing from the Fair Labor Standards Act a few years on this topic.  The gist of it was that an unpaid internship is allowable when the its only value is as an educational experience for the student (i.e. it doesn't provide meaningful value to the employer).  If I take off my libertarian hat for a moment and grant the legitimacy of this exercise for the sake of argument, this seems like a pretty reasonable standard.  If the intern is doing work that you would normally pay somebody to do, then yeah sure we probably shouldn't allow "but it's an internship, not a job" to serve as an end-run around minimum wage legislation.  On the other hand, if it's an educational experience that happens to be provided on a worksite instead of a classroom -- the student pays the same tuition either way -- it seems counterproductive to expect employers to toss in a charity paycheck.    

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13 hours ago, Cjw_55106 said:

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

Highly questionable. For the most part, these “jobs” are just to help young people gain exposure and possibly help the company get a pipeline of potential employees. I have been on both sides of it, and generally they aren’t really getting much work done that would need replaced. They mostly shadow and try to learn while doing some little things to help out. That is the expectation. 
 

From what I’ve seen, the alternative to an unpaid internship isn’t a paid internship, it’s nothing being offered at all.  Companies/industries who get enough work benefit out of having interns probably already pay them. 

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9 hours ago, Sea Duck said:

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.

If a student is helping a professor that might be considered part of their education and learning process. 

Unless you are  a walk-on athlete paying your own way players on a full ride are being compensated for playing a sport. At University of Michigan out of state fees are pushing 45-50K a year.   So 4 years is worth around 200K, and many get a redshirt  and are able to get 5 years and start Master degree classes. So they can come out far ahead of the average student with zero debt as well.

 

As far as in interns go they should get something.  The very least they should be paid is minimum wage.

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4 hours ago, Da Guru said:

If a student is helping a professor that might be considered part of their education and learning process. 

To chime in on this one, students who work in labs, grade assignments, lead tutoring sessions, etc. are all paid, at least at my institution.  I'd be pretty surprised if that work was unpaid anywhere.  (Edit: Athletics is its own little world, of course).

Edit Part II: So of course I just came out of a meeting where we talked about the need to recruit grad students to help out with freshman orientation during the summer, and as fate would have it those positions are unpaid.  I knew that but wasn't thinking along those lines when I posted earlier this morning.  My fault.

Edited by IvanKaramazov
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37 minutes ago, IvanKaramazov said:

To chime in on this one, students who work in labs, grade assignments, lead tutoring sessions, etc. are all paid, at least at my institution.  I'd be pretty surprised if that work was unpaid anywhere.  (Edit: Athletics is its own little world, of course).

Most undergrads working in university labs are unpaid. There is a lot of evidence for wide ranging benefits for this work for students. However for the most part they don't really add much if any productivity to the labs. In most universities there is no money to pay these students. These opportunities will overwhelmingly disappear if we require paid positions. 

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Some nfl reporter on Twitter got steamrolled yesterday for this. Said she pulled herself up by her bootstraps her first few years and others should do the same yada yada ... and then it was revealed her grandfather was a canned chili tycoon who supported her through college. :lmao: 

 

Pay people for their work. 

Edited by Capella
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5 minutes ago, Capella said:

Some nfl reporter on Twitter got steamrolled yesterday for this. Said she pulled herself up by her bootstraps her first few years and others should do the same yada yada ... and then it was revealed her grandfather was a canned chili tycoon who supported her through college. :lmao: 

 

Pay people for their work. 

I would probably not use sports journalism as the model here.  A lot of jobs in that field probably have below-zero equilibrium wages.  The OP's example of an entry-level marketing job is a little more normal.  

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16 hours ago, Cjw_55106 said:

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

They do not have to pay if it is solely 'solely for the benefit of the intern'.  That is the legal definition of an unpaid internship.  Different internships have different expectations. 

Where I ran HR years ago, we had both paid and unpaid.  The unpaid was where an intern would essentially mimic an employee.  So like in finance.  Let's say our finance person is running a monthly report.  The intern would also do it, but we never used their report.  It was solely for the intern to learn a skill.  We also had coders.  So someone would write the code for an API, and the intern would also do it.  We didn't need the intern.  It was for their benefit.  If they were interested and good at it, we'd either bring them back for a paid internship or a full time job after college.  Usually they went elsewhere for more money.  Frankly most of the unpaid internships went to employees kids that were college freshmen.  it was more of a favor to our employees.

The more experienced interns were paid and the work they did was productive for the company.

Edited by Brunell4MVP
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20 minutes ago, Brunell4MVP said:

They do not have to pay if it is solely 'solely for the benefit of the intern'.  That is the legal definition of an unpaid internship.  Different internships have different expectations. 

Where I ran HR years ago, we had both paid and unpaid.  The unpaid was where an intern would essentially mimic an employee.  So like in finance.  Let's say our finance person is running a monthly report.  The intern would also do it, but we never used their report.  It was solely for the intern to learn a skill.  We also had coders.  So someone would write the code for an API, and the intern would also do it.  We didn't need the intern.  It was for their benefit.  If they were interested and good at it, we'd either bring them back for a paid internship or a full time job after college.  Usually they went elsewhere for more money.  Frankly most of the unpaid internships went to employees kids that were college freshmen.  it was more of a favor to our employees.

The more experienced interns were paid and the work they did was productive for the company.

Thank you. This makes more sense than any other response. 

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56 minutes ago, Brunell4MVP said:

They do not have to pay if it is solely 'solely for the benefit of the intern'.  That is the legal definition of an unpaid internship.  Different internships have different expectations. 

Where I ran HR years ago, we had both paid and unpaid.  The unpaid was where an intern would essentially mimic an employee.  So like in finance.  Let's say our finance person is running a monthly report.  The intern would also do it, but we never used their report.  It was solely for the intern to learn a skill.  We also had coders.  So someone would write the code for an API, and the intern would also do it.  We didn't need the intern.  It was for their benefit.  If they were interested and good at it, we'd either bring them back for a paid internship or a full time job after college.  Usually they went elsewhere for more money.  Frankly most of the unpaid internships went to employees kids that were college freshmen.  it was more of a favor to our employees.

The more experienced interns were paid and the work they did was productive for the company.

This makes sense to me. Seems almost as if we should just label those two different things entirely. One is really just an educational experience while the other is actual work.

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3 hours ago, cheese said:

Highly questionable. For the most part, these “jobs” are just to help young people gain exposure and possibly help the company get a pipeline of potential employees. I have been on both sides of it, and generally they aren’t really getting much work done that would need replaced. They mostly shadow and try to learn while doing some little things to help out. That is the expectation. 
 

From what I’ve seen, the alternative to an unpaid internship isn’t a paid internship, it’s nothing being offered at all.  Companies/industries who get enough work benefit out of having interns probably already pay them. 

For what it’s worth, when I was in college, I worked an unpaid internship at a popular radio station and worked my ### off. My guess is that there is still a bunch of unpaid internships in the entertainment industry. 

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2 hours ago, Brunell4MVP said:

They do not have to pay if it is solely 'solely for the benefit of the intern'.  That is the legal definition of an unpaid internship.  Different internships have different expectations. 

Where I ran HR years ago, we had both paid and unpaid.  The unpaid was where an intern would essentially mimic an employee.  So like in finance.  Let's say our finance person is running a monthly report.  The intern would also do it, but we never used their report.  It was solely for the intern to learn a skill.  We also had coders.  So someone would write the code for an API, and the intern would also do it.  We didn't need the intern.  It was for their benefit.  If they were interested and good at it, we'd either bring them back for a paid internship or a full time job after college.  Usually they went elsewhere for more money.  Frankly most of the unpaid internships went to employees kids that were college freshmen.  it was more of a favor to our employees.

The more experienced interns were paid and the work they did was productive for the company.

This is exactly how it is at my work. 
 

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2 hours ago, bigbottom said:

For what it’s worth, when I was in college, I worked an unpaid internship at a popular radio station and worked my ### off. My guess is that there is still a bunch of unpaid internships in the entertainment industry. 

I'm sure.  And they can, because it's a desirable job with limited spots.   It's great if you can afford to work for no pay to get your foot in the door.   Most people can't.   It's not the most fair system in the world, but it is what it is.

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45 minutes ago, the rover said:

I'm sure.  And they can, because it's a desirable job with limited spots.   It's great if you can afford to work for no pay to get your foot in the door.   Most people can't.   It's not the most fair system in the world, but it is what it is.

Yes, this was the point raised by @fatguyinalittlecoat which I found very relevant to the discussion. 

Edited by bigbottom
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3 hours ago, bigbottom said:

For what it’s worth, when I was in college, I worked an unpaid internship at a popular radio station and worked my ### off. My guess is that there is still a bunch of unpaid internships in the entertainment industry. 

Yes, especially tv/radio.

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7 hours ago, AAABatteries said:

I’m typically aligned with you on many things but on this one my feeling is we don’t need to change anything.  I have a hard time considering these folks victims - people frequently have to pass up “better” opportunities in life due to their personal situation. Additionally, the ones doing the internships have the choice to do them.

More to the point, I’d rather see us implement BIG as a method to take care of the poor and allow some folks to pursue their dreams without worrying about essentials.  

Found your issue in life...

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5 hours ago, bigbottom said:

For what it’s worth, when I was in college, I worked an unpaid internship at a popular radio station and worked my ### off. My guess is that there is still a bunch of unpaid internships in the entertainment industry. 

I was an intern for the Detroit Tigers one summer.  On some night games I was there from 9am until the game was over.   I got to hang out and drink beer with some of the players, went to a bunch of great events put on by radio stations.    All my friends said what a great job I had.   I agreed expect for one small thing...I did not get paid anything!!

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23 hours 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. 

Kind of sad these universities where they are supposed to train and educate people while also having billions dollar endowments couldn't afford minimum wage to grow and develop. 

20 hours ago, parasaurolophus said:

If schools can charge 30k to barely teach you anything you will use on the job, why can't a place give you that knowledge and call it square?

The schools teach you one thing that's really important:  how to get your job application past the first level of cuts. If businesses wouldn't require it, people wouldn't go there and be forced to pay so much. It's such a backwards system. 

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35 minutes ago, Ilov80s said:

Kind of sad these universities where they are supposed to train and educate people while also having billions dollar endowments couldn't afford minimum wage to grow and develop. 

The schools teach you one thing that's really important:  how to get your job application past the first level of cuts. If businesses wouldn't require it, people wouldn't go there and be forced to pay so much. It's such a backwards system. 

Most universities don't have billion dollar endowments. Most university research labs don't have enough money to pay one person minimum wage for a month with their whole budget. 

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33 minutes ago, Drunken Cowboy said:

Most universities don't have billion dollar endowments. Most university research labs don't have enough money to pay one person minimum wage for a month with their whole budget. 

Fair, I guess I’m used to just thinking of places like Michigan most schools are pretty small.

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3 minutes ago, Ilov80s said:

Fair, I guess I’m used to just thinking of places like Michigan most schools are pretty small.

Staying in your region. Eastern Michigan is considered a research university and is still way larger than most universities. Its endowment is under 80 million. 

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On 3/1/2021 at 5:06 PM, 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? 

On paper you're right, but this is one last struggle your niece has to make before she will begin making more money than she ever has before.

 

My first tax season I worked for free. After that, my first firm paid me less to do more work than everybody else. Now I work at home and play hokey pokey for twice what I made back then.

 

It's part of the struggle. If she's lucky she has people in her life that tell her she can do whatever she wants in life and she'll believe it.

 

 

And honestly, what I learned in my unpaid internship was invaluable. The business had nothing to gain from me and they were nice enough to provide reference to my first firm.

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On 3/1/2021 at 8:37 PM, caustic said:

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/

 

I believe the NACE survey information show that paid internships typically lead jobs at a higher rate than unpaid internships.  This could be because in fields where paid internships are common (technology, accounting, engineering, etc.), the number of candidates for a job is MUCH lower than jobs in communications, teaching, etc. 

 

Its almost comparing apples to oranges.

 

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On 3/1/2021 at 5:49 PM, 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.

I know everyone loves this angle as expected but I'm not sure I agree on labeling the "victim". I don't think @Brunell4MVP claimed his son was a victim. And I don't know the person who had to pay rent is a victim either. Without question though, the ability to spend hours of a day on something that doesn't pay is a luxury. And a great many people don't have that luxury.

I think it's an interesting topic.

I've always felt unpaid interns were not something we'd want to do. I saw someone the other day in the fantasy space say they were going to hire some interns this summer and have them do stuff, "Just because I can". That's not really what we want to do. 

We've had our first interns at Footballguys this year and we paid them $15 an hour. I think that's about right. I have no question we'd be able to get a ton of talented people to intern for free. It's just not how I want to operate. 

 

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1 hour ago, SteelCurtain said:

I believe the NACE survey information show that paid internships typically lead jobs at a higher rate than unpaid internships.  This could be because in fields where paid internships are common (technology, accounting, engineering, etc.), the number of candidates for a job is MUCH lower than jobs in communications, teaching, etc. 

Its almost comparing apples to oranges.

This is addressed in the article:

Quote

It's not entirely clear why unpaid interns fare so poorly on the job market. Many companies do treat their paid internship programs as important talent pipelines, which boosts hire rates for students lucky enough to land in them. But that doesn't explain why unpaid interns appear to barely outcompete students who skip internships altogether. 

Could the issue have to do with which types of majors tend to take paid internships, and which tend to settle for unpaid work? Apparently not. As shown in this graph of hiring rates from a recent NACE presentation, unpaid interns fared roughly the same or worse on the job market compared to non-interns across a variety of fields, including business, communications, engineering, English, and political science. 

 

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On 3/2/2021 at 9:54 AM, Capella said:

Some nfl reporter on Twitter got steamrolled yesterday for this. Said she pulled herself up by her bootstraps her first few years and others should do the same yada yada ... and then it was revealed her grandfather was a canned chili tycoon who supported her through college. :lmao: 

 

Pay people for their work. 

Chili.  Chili chili.  Chili dog, YUM!

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