More on unpaid interns

Most unpaid internships offered by for-profit employers are illegal, a Labor official tells the New York Times. But the rules don’t apply to nonprofits. President Obama’s Organizing for America offered unpaid internships during the campaign, writes Kerry Picket of the Washington Times (via HotAir). The group is still offering internships today with no pay and no stipends for food, transportation or housing.

The New York Times, which would like to be a for-profit company, uses unpaid interns, reports William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection. Interns receive college credit:

Working alongside our reporters and editors, students can expect to observe news events, evaluate news releases and competitors’ stories for possible coverage, and have their work critiqued by New York Times staffers.

. . . Students should expect to write several articles during their semester at The Times and will receive pay at minimum freelance rates for these news stories, as well as for any legwork or stringing. The internship itself is unpaid.

Jacobson isn’t sure this would pass muster with the Labor Department. If interns are evaluating stories for possible coverage, they’re providing value to the employer.

Of course, any would-be journalist would love the opportunity, even without the chance to freelance for minimum pay.

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  1. Is there a difference between being an unpaid intern and a part-time slave?

  2. Richard Aubrey says:

    Student teacher?
    Agreed, public schools don’t make any of those nasty profits, but neither do the bosses get fired if they lose money.
    Still, working for free…?

  3. MN Teacher says:

    How is it different from student teaching? Which, at least when I did it, was a full time job with no pay that you also had to PAY to do (you had to pay tuition for the college credits you were getting.) Is that different from an unpaid internship?

  4. I weep for the students of someone who can make such an idiotic statement.

    A slave is forced to work.

    An intern chooses to do what they do. They choose an unpaid position because they derive value from the work experience and connections they make. They can leave any time they wish to.

    This may be a harsh reality check for some, but the natural order of things is for young people to start at low-level tasks, gain experience, and work their way up. Upward mobility is the whole point of being in America. It seems that those who don’t want to go through the hassle want to simply flatten the playing field, completely ignorant of the fact that doing so will crush the system which created our prosperity in the first place.

    Is student teaching slavery too?

  5. The requirement that unpaid interns do work from which employers cannot benefit is obsolete. What intern wants to do work that has little or no meaning to the employer? Most interns I’ve come across want to contribute to the organization for which they work….

  6. I’m not sure that it wouldn’t pass muster. The interns are paid with college credit and if they publish they are paid the standard freelance rate. Seems reasonable.

  7. How are interns being paid with college credits. Last time I looked college credits cost money unless you are on a scholership. So college interns in some cases are actually paying to work. When you think about the concept it is crazy having to pay thousands of dollars in some cases to to work for free so you do not have to take a class. Granted I did it, but my scholership paid for it. So I guess that makes me a little less crazy and the fact that the first month or two was in a class setting before the projects started.

  8. My apologies. I’ve had too much exposure to people who would make such a remark in earnest to immediately recognize it as sarcasm. This is an unfortunate result of what passes for rational thought in academia and other places.

  9. I’ve done the same thing, truth be told. Perhaps it was distasteful at that. In any case, I appreciate your understanding.

  10. Many schools require internships as part of the class or graduation requirements, further complicating the issue. In a way, the students are paying for the internship educational experience when they pay for the school.


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