Politics

Unpaid Interns Are Exploited?

How the Labor Department's new rules will interfere with the rights of contract and free association.

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Do you employ unpaid student interns—college students who work in exchange for on-the-job training?

If so, President Obama's Labor Department says that you're an exploiter. The government says an internship is OK only if it meets six criteria, among them that the employer must get "no immediate advantage" from the intern's activities. In fact, the employer's work "may be impeded."

Impeded? No immediate advantage?

I'm in trouble, then. I have an intern at Fox Business News, and I'm getting immediate advantages from her work all the time. I've had interns my whole career and gotten lots of immediate advantage from them. Occasionally, I've been impeded—but the better interns did the research that made my work possible. I'd asked my TV bosses to pay for research help, but they said, "You think we're made of money?"

So I asked colleges if students wanted internships. Many did, and from then on I got much of my best help from unpaid college students.

Did I exploit them? Obama's Labor Department says it's hired 250 new investigators to catch exploiters like me. I tried to get the department to answer my questions on tonight's FBN show, but it declined.

So I invited Village Voice writer Anya Kamenetz, who wrote a column titled "Take This Internship and Shove It" in The New York Times.

"We have minimum wage laws in this country for a very good reason," she replied. "We had them to avoid exploitation like child labor.

But what's wrong with a free internship if a student learns something about the career he wants to pursue?

I was a little stunned by Kamenetz's answer: "Employers could say we cannot afford to pay anybody, so why should we be forced to pay the guy who cleans the floors?"

Because they wouldn't get people to clean floors if they didn't pay. But I guess I shouldn't expect a New York writer to understand markets.

"Interns are people that come in and work for below minimum wage," she said. "They pull the bottom out of the labor market, and it's less fair for everybody."

So it should be banned?

"There are a lot of ways to fill in the need for interns and the need for college students to get experience. One way is for colleges to pay stipends."

But they won't.

"They will if the law is enforced. Another way is for companies to hire students that are eligible for federal work-study."

Oh, I see. The taxpayers should pay for my interns.

"Nobody is saying that these interns should go away," Kamenetz added. "What they're saying is a company should put money in their budgets to pay people the minimum wage to work for them, and that is just the basic issue of fairness. If you start working for free, where's it going to end?"

Give me a break. It would end when the interns have the skills to earn market salaries. Minimum-wage law and union rules already killed off apprentice jobs on construction sites. Contractors say: If I must pay high union wages, I'll hire experienced workers. I'd lose money if I hired a kid and helped him learn on the job.

My interns often told me that working—unpaid—at WCBS or ABC was the best learning experience of their lives: "I learned more from you than at college, and I didn't have to pay tuition!" It was good for them and good for me.

Kamenetz said, "Studies show that when companies pay their interns, they design the internships better."

Please. A few years ago, my old employer, ABC, started paying our interns. That was good for well-connected students who got internships, but bad for those who were turned down. ABC cut the number of interns by more than half. There's no free lunch.

What's happened to the rights of contract and free association? If student and employer come to an agreement, both expect to benefit or it wouldn't happen. The student is no indentured servant. If the employer "exploits" the student, the student can quit. The contract ought to be nobody's business but theirs.

Butt out, federal bullies. Grown-ups can take care of ourselves.

John Stossel is host of Stossel on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of Give Me a Break and of Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity. To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at johnstossel.com.

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    1. Do you hav any internships?

  3. Listen, this is Anon-Bot country. We don’t take kindly to strangers.

  4. “The government says an internship is OK only if it meets six criteria, among them that the employer must get “no immediate advantage” from the intern’s activities.”

    Never mind whether it’s good for the employer, what good does it do the intern if he isn’t helping the organization? Isn’t the whole reason for the internship, from his point of view, to learn the skills that will later get him a job?

  5. How can you not gain an “immediate advantage” from someone doing work at your place of business?

    I willfully submitted to unpaid internships as a college student with the understanding that it would improve my career prospects. It did.

    This comment, though: “The taxpayers should pay for my interns.” I had to pay the state university for a 6-credit internship, so I guess the taxpayers were subsidizing that internship in a way.

    1. Apparently you have to find interns who are total screw-ups. If you have an intern who actually does a good job you get an immediate advantage from their work and are therefore exploiting them, and the Department of Labor would like to have a word with you

      1. About 20 years ago, in a different organization, the summer internships seemed to be mostly about meeting interns from other schools and having sex with them. Few actually _did_ much of anything beyond scut work – the few champions who did are now lead engineers in that same (or other) organizations.

  6. Must be thursday, time for a Stossel show ad

  7. Interns of the world, unite!

  8. These proposed rules are stupid. Adults should be free to work for any price they choose, incluing zero. But I will concede a point to the village voice et alia:

    It’s inconsistent that the law requires employers to pay a minimum hourly wage to employees but allows some employers to avoid that duty by hiring “interns” for less. Of course, a good libertarian opposes the minimum-wage statute in the first place. But, if we assume that the mimimum-wage law should be enforced and obeyed, I can see the argument that all employers should be made to pay all workers (including so-called interns) that minimum. ALL workers learn things on the job. The distinction between an intern and an entry-level employee is illusory. If we’ve decided as a society to prevent workers from negotiating wages below a certain threshold, why make exceptions?

    1. ALL workers learn things on the job.

      Not by a long shot. Unpaid Interns are usually motivated to learn, paid interns not so much. And many comfortable employees just coast

      1. Learning to coast is learning, friend.

  9. How does the value of what interns learn on the job factor into calculating the minimum wage for them?

    Silly me; sorry. It was a wise-guy question.

  10. It is a simple factor of supply and demand. The supply of college kids grossly outstrips the number of internships and entry level jobs in their respective fields. This pushes the wages of interns to zero.

    A staple in the the “creative” fields; art, journalism, etc, it has now spread into the science and engineering fields a well.

    Some employers (not all) abuse the internship system and expect 40+ hour work weeks with little or no pay, doing the same job as a regular employee. The final insult comes when you consider the exploding cost of college, where students simply cannot afford to work full-time for almost nothing.

    1. science and engineering interns pretty much always get paid. my first internship was then the highest paying job I ever had, same for most of my classmates.

      1. True… my school did cooperative eduction (which is similar to internship except that you alternate quarter/semesters between school and work), paid very well, based on your year in school. So well, that when you got hired on full time, you got a pay cut.

        I was able to pay for all of my schooling and other expense after I got the coop job.

        The company got a good deal out of — coops basically ran the entire department and brought in revenue in the high millions.

    2. If the intern objects to such abuse they can always quit.

  11. “Interns are people that come in and work for below minimum wage,” she said. “They pull the bottom out of the labor market, and it’s less fair for everybody.”

    The F-word! Can’t argue with it.

    1. Well they’re kind of like illegal immigrants, just whiter & a certain age & caught up in the college-degree racket.

      Of course, Reason thinks illegal immigrants are nifty too.

  12. I would expect employers to eventually start expecting interns to pay them… which would probably be more valuable to the intern than paying for college.

  13. Labor rules have truly fucked laborers.

    Minimum-wage law and union rules already killed off apprentice jobs on construction sites.

    Not just construction sites. Apprenticeship use to be a well paved road up the ladder (pardon the mixed metaphor) Now it isn’t an option.

    It was once common for people to bring in extra income with a part-time job. Try finding one today.

    1. Try finding any job today, outside of “politically connected stooge”.

  14. This is just a way to obtain federal income taxes and payroll taxes (no income, no taxes).

  15. @Bill Speers: Exactly. Maybe the employers can exchange a good recommendation to a future employer for work provided by the intern. The employer could call themselves the intern’s Personal Employment Consultant.

  16. In medical school, I had to pay top dollar in tuition costs to the university to have the opportunity to provide valuable work to the university hospital.Yes, you read that right, I paid them for the opportunity.

    1. Do you feel like you’ve been exploited? Or are you brainwashed?

  17. The federal gov’t maintains a fairly lively volunteer program. It’s practically required, to volunteer for Park Service in order to get hired, for instance. these people make no sense at all.

    1. This was my first thought too. The left (and bureaucrats in general) love the concept of volunteerism. So if I choose to work for free for your benefit it’s OK, but if I choose to work for free for my benefit it’s not OK?

  18. While I am used to the government doing stupid things for political gains, this one baffles me. Are there really votes to be won by banning unpaid internships?

    1. Anything below minimum wage is a threat to union labor. Those are the votes sought with this.

    2. Someone explaining it better than I can.

      1. Thanks for the explanation. But, does this mean the unions think that this will lead intern jobs somehow turning into union jobs?

        1. Not necessarily the same number of jobs, but if the companies are deriving a benefit, presumably there would still be a need for workers. Effectively, they want to drive low-cost competition for labor out.

  19. Oh please. I bet Obama had thousands of unpaid interns working on his campaign. This is almost as bad as Bill Clinton looking out for the welfare of interns.

  20. So all the interns in DC are getting laid off, then?

    Or only if they aren’t useless?

    1. “So all the interns in DC are getting laid off, then?”

      laid, maybe…..

    2. No the DC interns won’t be laid off because the Feds exclude themselves from the onerous restrictions they place on us peons.

  21. Is it still OK for me to help my buddy move without getting paid? I mean, I think he plans on buying some pizza and beers… but maybe I should do the math and make sure that adds up to at least $7.25/hour.

    1. As a pickup truck owner I’d have to say no, it is not ok. There is no end to the number of people that would like your help moving (moving anything). When you help your buddy move for free, that sets a precedent. It affect interstate commerce. You have just lowered the cost of moving and now I have to help my buddy move for free. Thanks a lot, jerk.

      1. Owning a pickup is a sure-fire way to get asked to haul stuff around for others. I think it’s built into the purchase agreement.

  22. [So all the interns in DC are getting laid off, then?]

    Some are getting laid for sure.

  23. In most states, if you PAY interns for more than 30 days, they are eligible for UNEMPLOYMENT compensation at the end of the internship. My state labor office suggested NOT PAYING interns to avoid having to pay unemployment.

  24. It should also be noted that zero pay internships descrimate against people who’s parent aren’t rich. IE, those that have to work for a living while in college.

    But then again, it’s not like being paid the minimum wage would have really mattered. No when I was making $25-30 an hour waiting tables.

  25. How are rules that have been on the books for years “new rules”? Looks like Stossel’s intern isn’t doing her “job”!

    http://laborlaw.typepad.com/la…..ernsh.html

  26. From the Department of Labor internship website:

    “Students can participate in weekly brown bag lunch discussions, attend agency presentations, and work on projects assigned to them by their agency. Previous interns have had opportunities to work in a variety of areas including public affairs, speechwriting, and outreach programs. Students will also be delegated general administrative duties, and should have strong writing and research skills.”

  27. Law students are paid handsomely during their summer internships (well, by the top firms, anyway). No idea what the going rate is at the Big Firms this year, but I’d be surprised if it was less than $1500/week.

    At least the budding lawyers are doing well. And that’s what counts, right?

    1. At least the budding lawyers are doing well.

      Not so well as they were about two years ago. The job market for new lawyers is in the swamp. Lots and lots of newly-minted lawyers can’t find decent work, if any. Over the past 18 months or so, there were literally thousands of lawyers laid off from big firms. And they’re no longer paying the stupidly fat salaries to first years that they had been (although they’re still throwing a pretty surprising amount of money at twenty-somethings just because they graduated in the top 10% of their class at the “right” law school. It’s just not the absurd amount they had been throwing at them).

      Things are tough every over.

      1. Summer jobs for L2s are hard to find and the pay is not what it used to be. I understand that one summer of work would just about pay for your third year of law school and amounted to almost guaranteed offer of employment at that firm after graduation.

        I have a niece who is very smart, highly competitive and attending a top 10 law school. Don’t know where she ranks in her class but she could be top 25% or even 10%. Summer job interviews for L2s have been hard to find this past year. She will be working for a public interest law group in the 105th largest city in the US for presumably little pay. Prospects after graduation are not good.

  28. shit I’d pay John Stossel to let me work for him

    1. Admit it, you’d blow John Stossel to let you work for him.

  29. Jon you have much common sense ..which many of us know..is not common.
    I’m in Toronto (San Francisco lite I call it). where political correctness is ruining our city.
    And our country and our continent.
    This is simply about MORE CONTROL OVER THE PEOPLE.
    Obama is only about control which is why he picked Marxism as his choice of doctrine.
    Plus he’s an idiot along with his administration.

  30. But what happened to the rights of contract and free association?

    Are you serious? Are you serious?

  31. To be fair, my experience in a sleepy college town where my communications major required an internship was that no paying internships existed. The unpaid internships were generally worthless and largely consisted of making copies for local pr and advertising firms. Some of my peers got unpaid internships where they literally sat at a desk and did their homework for the semester. It is exploitive- by the college- in my view to require this for the major.

    The fix as usual, should be student activism to the effect of “quit screwing us over college” rather than government intervention which simply means the internships would disappear.

  32. What’s really interesting about this is that many government organizations (including the FBI) have un-paid internship positions… I bet the White House even has them!

  33. There’s no such thing as a paid internship. (No legal distinction.) It’s a TEMP JOB. And interns who are paid can collect unemployment for 18 months following the internship. It’s not the 8 bucks that matters, it’s the legal obligations of having and terminating and employee. Very expensive. The unemployment can cost thousands.

    1. I didn’t know any intern who filed for unemployment after their tenure ended. It strikes me as unethical and inappropriate. I believe many feel the same.

      There must be many people illegitimately collecting unemployment for this to be considered a real issue. That’s slimy.

  34. Here’s what Stossel can do to A) Comply with the new law, B) keep his interns, C) not have to pay them, and D) Maybe even get them to pay him for the privilege.

    How? Easy — just work out a deal with the colleges or universities of your choice. Offer to provide an internship for credit, the university then charges the student thousands for the ‘class’ and Stossel can demand some of the money for helping with the ‘teaching’.

    My daughter is going to have to do something very much like that — a 12 credit internship for which she’ll work almost 40 hours a week AND write papers about it (you know — to make it seem legit as a course) and also pay about $5K for the privilege (in her case, I’m not sure if the employer gets a cut or not).

    An unpaid internship would be WAY better than the exploitation that is required for her degree.

    1. This is exactly what happens in student teaching. You pay full-time tuition for the semester but go out and teach in a local school. You also have to write papers about it and attend discussion classes in the evening.

      There’s a transition in the first few weeks from observing the co-op teacher, to teaching while being observed, to teaching completely on your own. But then you’re on your own the rest of the term and clearly providing a benefit to the school.

      Does the labor department want to outlaw student teaching? Maybe in the liberal dictionary the definition of internship specifically excludes student teaching.

    2. A) Comply with the new law

      I may be mistaken, but I don’t think this is a new law. Isn’t that law about 80 years old?

  35. We, as a totally fair collection of marginal journalists, Democrat operatives, failed left-wing talk-show hosts, glamour-girls, lesbians and newsreaders with nice racks, do hereby object to the notion that vulnerable tweens, trannies and college students should submit to unpaid training that may or may not further their careers in the homophobic, gender-hostile (except for us) profession of cable-news propaganda. MSNBC: The Place For Politics!?

  36. The University/Internship thing is not unique to the US. My niece is in France woring on a masters at the University of Paris. One of her requirments is to work as an intern, though I don’t know what the finanical arrangment was though.

    1. Where you place the missing letter for the word “woring” is important. Where does the missing letter go — before the O or after the R? It’s important to my understanding of her mission in France.

  37. Must be that people who volunteer at the soup kitchen are being exploited too. The floor is dropping out of the slop ladler market!

  38. read that as whoring on a masters at the University of Paris

    *giggle*

  39. Hey wait. If learning for free is exploitation, what do you call _paying_ to work, as in college??

  40. Well said, Stossel

    1. unPC|= COMPLETELY IGNORANT that John Stossel falsely blamed the Obama administration for intern laws passed decades ago (The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938) and a Supreme Court decision (1947).

      unPC|= typical red stater, tea partier

  41. So, allowing potential entry-level employees/interns/apprentices the potential *choice* of manner of employment and compensation (currency, mentoring, learning experience, etc.) is suddenly now bad?

    Where will this go next? Volunteers? Students? Children doing house-chores? Livestock? What precedent is this setting?

    1. Gee hate to burst your non-logic bubble, but there is no “suddenly.”

      The intern laws were passed decades ago (The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938) and are also a result of a Supreme Court decision (1947).

    2. Gee hate to burst your non-logic bubble, but there is no “suddenly.”

      The intern laws were passed decades ago (The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938) and are also a result of a Supreme Court decision (1947).

      1. There are tens of thousands of laws across this great land of the free. Some are old and outdated or just plain bad, but have never been taken off the books. They are also never (or rarely) enforced. If someone in Butt Lick, AR decided to start enforcing the local “saying the Lord’s name in vain” law, then yes, it’s suddenly.

  42. OK, well, then creative new interpretation of the existing law, then.

  43. John Stossel is actually blaming the Obama labor department for intern laws passed decades ago (The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938) and a Supreme Court decision (1947).

    What an idiot, typical Fox News moron.

    1. What an idiot

      Hmm, usually posting the same thing three times in succession is considered something around here. Oh, idiotic.

  44. Mr. Stossel, it’s time to trim your mustache again. (Sigh.)

  45. Well, I know that I have to pay $4K to the university for my free credit internship and write a paper about it.
    Most of the time employers require to spend the usual 40hrs/ a week so there you go for finding other sources of revenue. In DC, it is to such extent, that finding a decent paid job is hard as companies only recruit for interns and rarely for regular jobs unless it demands someone with 10+ yrs of experience.
    I’m wondering, when I graduate will I be fighting others students for a job?

    The stipend idea is actually not bad, something around 30% of the actual pay would be a good start and also relax the hours to 15-20/week so that you can get a complementary job!

    Also, internships are not a choice, they are a requirement when you doing a degree! You can’t escape it so stop with the non sense talk of “choice”.

    1. I never had to intern to get my degree.

      Pick a different major.

      1. That made no sense. Every major now encourages that you gain job experience through an internship, whether you are learning finance or art. Idk what you are talking about, but get a clue

  46. Stossel is an idiot. The law that he refers to is called The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. (I’m pretty sure Mr. Obama didn’t vote for that.) Typical Fox News reporting. And as is typical, most Fox News listeners will read it and repeat it. Just like every other lie the beast tells them.

  47. “If you start working for free, where’s it going to end?”

    Why does Kamenetz hate charities? They would be unable to function without volunteers working for free.

    Stupid bitch.

  48. When I did my graduate internship, I learned more in two months than I had in six years of university. Did they make me work hard? You bet. I wanted to be a professional, so I had to learn what they already knew. Sure I ate Cup-O-Noodles a lot, but I’d do it again. Now it’s MY turn to pass the knowledge on. Sorry, if this sounds wimpy, but I wanted to learn from the best, and I wasn’t disappointed.

  49. Odd… MNG hasn’t been here to comment yet. It’s so… peaceful.

  50. Michael A and Pastol (assuming you’re not the same person),

    Where did Stossel say Congress passed a new law? Clearly they did not. But the Department of Labor is now executing on the existing laws differently. Note that word “executing” and how similar it is to “executive”, which happens to be the name of the branch of government which Mr. Obama heads.

    Weird coincidence, I know. But it’s easy to see how some Fox News moron might be confused into thinking that the President has something to do with the actions of the Executive Branch of the government.

    Also, since there was no “suddenly”, I’m curious when they began gradually hiring 250 investigators to crack down on internships.

  51. John Stossel’s salary compared to that of unpaid interns is Exhibit A of the market’s irrationality.

    1. The government, on the other hand, is perfectly rational. Almost Vulcan in its logic.

      1. That depends. Did you vote for the Vulcans, or did you vote for the parasitic eels from Ceti Alpha V?

        1. I always vote a straight Ferengi ticket.

          1. Yeah, but the Ferengi candidate in the last election was a complete sell-out. I here he was just a Klingon in disguise.

            1. “hear”. I can’t spell right at this hour of the day.

    2. Useless comparison, as anyone with a paying job makes more than an unpaid intern.

      Just looking for excuses, aren’t you, Tony?

      1. But who is doing more productive work?

        IMO Stossel is negatively productive, and handsomely rewarded for it.

        Just sayin.

        1. “IMO Stossel is negatively productive…”

          Subjectivity in action. Some people like red cars, some people like blue. Some people like fat hookers, some people don’t. He’s handsomely rewarded because some people like to hear what he has to say, and his show helps sell ad time thus selling products which help keep people employed. Let’s not forget that without Stossel, the intership positions for his show wouldn’t exist in the first place because his show wouldn’t exist. Something else would, but that’s not the point.

          You believe he is negatively “productive” because you don’t agree with him. I can say the same thing for all the bullshit news sites and economically illiterate dumbasses like Maddow, Olberman, Matthews, and Stewart (HE’S A FUCKING COMEDIAN FOR CHIRSSAKE PEOPLE, but I do enjoy his show from time to time) you defer to for authority.

          1. I get it. I don’t begrudge anyone making money any legal way they can. But that doesn’t mean society will be optimal and everything that is necessary will be. There’s a difference between acknowledging that the market rewards demand and saying that this is the only equation a society needs to function.

  52. “I have an intern at Fox Business News, and I’m getting immediate advantages from her work all the time.”

    Is John taking advice from Clinton now?

  53. I am 22. I work in the IT Department at a local college. I started there in June of 2008 as an unpaid intern with no experience. I learned more from that internship, than I ever did in a classroom. Pity the government for being so petty and shortsighted.

  54. John had Anya Kamenetz on his show tonight. She said that she knows John supports the immigration laws of this country. Is this true? If so, John supports the government coming between two adults who want to make a contract. What hypocrisy (if true).

    1. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was mistaken/a dumb bitch. Otherwise, if the ‘stache does support the current immigration laws his opinion probably stems from a desire to prevent more non-tax payers from taking advantage of the wasteful welfare system more then anything else. It’s a little hypocritical for us absolutists, but more practical in the current unfortunate scenario. Personally, let’s just let them all in, let the house of cards fall, and watch this mother burn. I think a couple decades in the madness of liberal-theorized anarchy would do us all some good in the long run.

  55. Low-wage or nonpaying internships are the price you pay for majoring in art history and screwing off for four years, rathering than either A.Majoring in something useful (which generally takes more work) B.Going to trade school or C.Getting a job straight out of high school (though, to be fair, the importance of a college degree has been so inflated that lots of jobs that could formerly be staffed by high-school grads are now reserved to bachelor’s degree holders).

  56. I’m currently a graduate student working at an unpaid internship for a managing director of a venture capital firm (I’m studying overseas so the US law doesn’t apply here). If there were a law mandating that he pay me a wage, I doubt he would have even hired me. I work just one or two days a week, and I estimate that the experience and contacts that I get from working for him will increase my starting salary out of grad school by something like $20,000 (plus it will put me at a higher starting position, with more responsibility). My internship is a voluntary agreement with the managing director. If anyone is gaining more than anyone else, it’s me! This internship really complements what I’m learning in my classes, and it doesn’t even cost tuition. I don’t plan on returning to America after my degree. I’ll stay and work overseas. There are several countries that are freer than America nowadays, as much as it pains me to say it.

  57. I once worked as an upaid intern. I thought I was going to get some good business experience, but instead I was just told to cold-call a list of people, and ask them the name and contact information for their chief information officer. It sucked.

    So I fucking quit after 3 days and found a summer job that paid.

  58. My daughter’s school requires students to intern and they pay tuition for the terms that they intern. She did learn a lot at her internship, worked very hard and earned a scholarship from the company. She was one of six interns at this company and the only one to earn a scholarship. Several of her friends told me that their internship did not give them experience in their field. One student who was a culinary major ended up cashiering during her internship.

    I interned for a company each summer I was in college and I was paid. First summer $6/hour, third summer $9/hour and I did not pay tuition those terms. This was back in the late 70’s – early 80’s. It has been amazing for me to see my own children actually have to pay and not get compensated at all for internships. My son was paid for his internships. He worked for the US Geological Survey.

  59. My daughter’s school requires students to intern and they pay tuition for the terms that they intern. She did learn a lot at her internship, worked very hard and earned a scholarship from the company. She was one of six interns at this company and the only one to earn a scholarship. Several of her friends told me that their internship did not give them experience in their field. One student who was a culinary major ended up cashiering during her internship.

    I interned for a company each summer I was in college and I was paid. First summer $6/hour, third summer $9/hour and I did not pay tuition those terms. This was back in the late 70’s – early 80’s. It has been amazing for me to see my own children actually have to pay and not get compensated at all for internships. My son was paid for his internships. He worked for the US Geological Survey.

  60. My daughter’s school requires students to intern and they pay tuition for the terms that they intern. She did learn a lot at her internship, worked very hard and earned a scholarship from the company. She was one of six interns at this company and the only one to earn a scholarship. Several of her friends told me that their internship did not give them experience in their field. One student who was a culinary major ended up cashiering during her internship.

    I interned for a company each summer I was in college and I was paid. First summer $6/hour, third summer $9/hour and I did not pay tuition those terms. This was back in the late 70’s – early 80’s. It has been amazing for me to see my own children actually have to pay and not get compensated at all for internships. My son was paid for his internships. He worked for the US Geological Survey.

  61. Come to think of it, I probably should’ve done the whole “polisci course” type of internship, although it sounds like it would be a much lower-quality internship compared to one you might get working full-time in the summer at. Plus, since it was for college credit, you’d have to write a bunch of extra shit for the dept. regarding your experience and whatnot, not just do the internship work.

    But, alas, guess I squandered that opportunity, mainly b/c, for one thing, very few internships are paid (not that I think gov’t should regulate that), and I don’t have much money in my bank account, so it’s not like I can really afford an apartment. Mom’s already got enough to worry about financially.

    Guess I shouldn’t have picked a major like poli-sci, eh? God, what was I thinking?? I tried finding a job for this all academic year, and I’m graduating in a week. Still nothin. And I just realized throughout the course of this year that I like economics at least a bit more than politics. I’ve probably skimmed or read a total of 50-75 books from the Mizzou library or through the Mobius missouri system.

    1. No kidding you “shouldn’t have picked a major like poli-sci?” For goodness sakes, you are now 21 or 22 and just considering the idea of supporting yourself in the future. I hope you had fun in college, at least. You’re certainly not alone, but this sounds like the classic liberal arts major needing to learn the most important thing for life in the future: “Do you want fries with that?”

  62. These people are so out of touch it is painful. I just got a great job that I would never have been a candidate for if I had not worked for free for 6 months before that as an intern/student researcher.

  63. The unpaid internships in question are undergraduate student internships, not law school interns (they’re paid and serve a different purpose) and not medical interns or anything else. The most honest description of the undergrad, unpaid internship is that one is allowed to hang out and watch how professionals or some company does things. The benefit to the intern is that they get to watch and probably write a paper about the experience for which they get a grade (and may have to pay for the credits, even!). Once the entity hosting the intern pays the intern, said intern is an employee of certain status and ought to be entitled to whatever else other employees of certain status are entitled. It is not an apprenticeship, it’s paying for some lazy kid to make copies…

  64. My undergrad daughter will start a summer internship with the Smithsonian in a month. As far as I know it is unpaid, but I think it will be an invaluable experience.

    The rules discussed will, of course, not be applied to government interns. Rules are for the little people.

  65. I can’t ever imagine a Democrat exploiting an intern. Certainly not someone like our previous Democrat President.

  66. I heard of this exploitative system that is even worse than internship. They actually make the poor unmarketable kid PAY to learn skills.
    It is called College, and it must be stopped!

  67. What skills do you actually learn on these jobs? Most of them involve being a gofer: make copies, make coffee, fetch your boss various things. If you know how to use a copier, how to fetch things, and how to use a computer, you will not learn anything from the vast majority of internships. You will get connections, and a recommendation (provided you are servile enough and you don’t work for a jerk with impossible standards), which is why people put up with these jobs.

    I notice Stossel doesn’t bother answering the complain that these jobs are only feasible for people whose families have a certain level of wealth: a lot of people can’t afford to work for free. Is this because he didn’t notice that part of he argument, or because he’s quite aware it’s true and he doesn’t have a good answer for it?

    1. Maybe it’s because it’s not a valid argument, which it isn’t, and he was already focusing the piece on the equally meritless arguments of another illogical female.

      I have a baby sister who studied at prestigious medical schools here and abroad in London, Paris, and Berlin. Our family is anything but wealthy, she did it mostly on scholarships. How you can claim that “…these jobs are only feasible for people whose families have a certain level of wealth..” I’m not sure. There are other ways, perhaps ones you’re unaware of, but ways nonetheless.

      1. Which prestigious medical schools?

        I will concede that folks who can score a scholarship that will cover their expenses can also take jobs that pay nothing. How many people does that cover, though?

        I will amend my statement in response to your objection-the vast majority of people who can work with no pay come from families that can cover for their lack of income.

        I note that you say nothing about the valuable gofering skills learnt on the vast majority of these jobs.

  68. What educational experience does cleaning the bathroom, making coffee, running errands gain by the internship that require employer’s close supervision?

    Finally there is something that is illegal if you do it for free, but perfectly legal if you do it for money.

    Maybe the world is a better place if this also applies to sex. It is illegal if you have sex for free because it is an exploit, but perfectly legal if you do it for money, because it is fair compensation finally.

    Interns are no different from prostitutes, except that they don’t get paid for it. If we can make interns legal by paying them, why not go for an extra step and make prostitution legal? Be fair, don’t a hypocrite. Make sex illegal if it is done for free, just like interns, so everyone has to pay up if you don’t want to exploit any one. Isn’t this what capitalism is all about? Fair work, fair pay.

  69. What educational experience does cleaning the bathroom, making coffee, running errands gain by the internship that require employer’s close supervision?

    Finally there is something that is illegal if you do it for free, but perfectly legal if you do it for money.

    Maybe the world is a better place if this also applies to sex. It is illegal if you have sex for free because it is an exploit, but perfectly legal if you do it for money, because it is fair compensation finally.

    Interns are no different from prostitutes, except that they don’t get paid for it. If we can make interns legal by paying them, why not go for an extra step and make prostitution legal? Be fair, don’t a hypocrite. Make sex illegal if it is done for free, just like interns, so everyone has to pay up if you don’t want to exploit any one. Isn’t this what capitalism is all about? Fair work, fair pay.

  70. What I wouldn’t give to be exploited by the myriad of employers I have applied to

  71. I have found in my experience that many companies often do exploit their interns. Internships, in my opinion, discriminate. They are geared toward a student so financially stable, that they can work for free.

    “I learned more working for you than at any college, and didn’t have to pay tuition.”

    Can we talk about this for a second? Because any intern that says that they’re “not paying tuition to work for free” is sadly mistaken. In order to make room in their class schedule, many students will substitute a class for an internship. This internship eventually counts for college credit. Any student not relying on their parents to pay for their education knows how expensive one college credit actually is. SOOO, essentially, you ARE paying for your unpaid internship.

    I understand what internships set out to do, but in out current economic climate, many companies absolutely take advantage of the free labor. A friend told me that the company she interned at had to fire their Admin. Assistant because of their low budget. That same day, my friend (an unpaid intern) was asked to tend to the tasks the admin. assistant was originally responsible for. (Note: this Administrative Assistant received salary as well as full benefits).

    Tell me how THAT is fair, because frankly, I will never be able to figure it out.

    1. It is really exploitation that should be prevented, not learning. At the end of the day there are heaps of unpaid volunteers in the country, are they going to stop them too?

    2. The word internship has changed its meaning – today internship means free labour.

      Also part-time jobs are pretty much non-existent, because why offer a part time job, if you can call in an intern and then another one and another one. I hardly see any benefit in interning anymore.

      Our generation is doomed, because soon everyone will be working for free – with economic crisis as the excuse for that.

  72. If in order to provide an unpaid internship, the employer must get “no immediate advantage” from the intern’s activities, and in fact, “may even be impeded,” then WHY IN THE HELL would ANY employer who is even HALFWAY in his or her right mind EVER offer an unpaid internship?

    So, federal government, let’s do all we can to kill internships. Never mind the benefits that both businesses (who may eventually employ the intern) and the interns themselves receive. Let’s prohibit adults from entering into mutually beneficial relationships with each other.

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  74. This semester I am required to do a clinical internship for 40hrs a week for 5 days at a for-profit hospital. I will be working in their lab and it will last for 6 months (its my last semster and all I will be doing is working). I will be working along side other employees, and don’t feel it fair to be without a paycheck for 6 months doing what I believe is a job. I live in California, is this legal?

  75. I’m in the creative industry and the word internship makes me sick. I’ve recently done an internship with a magazine for a month, I worked 7 days a week during that time – two on a paid part-time job to cover 70% of my rent (2.5×2.5m room, that excludes all bills and any other living costs), and 5 days with the magazine. I’ve done hard work at the magazine and even though I found some of the experience useful, the most important thing I’ve learned was about the nature of internships in present time. First thing is – you don’t get hired after an internship, they simply get more interns to come in. Because I’ve done such a good job and I have a lot of skills that are valuable to the magazine they continued asking me to do work for them after my internship has ended – unpaid. Once free – always free would be another suitable motto.

    Not to mention I have a loan for my tuition fees for university.

    I’ve heard a story from one guy who ‘made it’ after he interned at the magazine (won’t mention the name of the publication) for 8 months and they by chance a lucky incident caused him working for the magazine – he was in the right place at the right time. So much for skill and knowledge. I’m thinking about the 100 other interns who did not get any work….

  76. Eh bien, je suis un bon poste watcher vous pouvez dire et je ne donne pas une seule raison de critiquer ou de donner une bonne critique ? un poste. Je lis des blogs de 5 derni?res ann?es et ce blog est vraiment bon cet ?crivain a les capacit?s pour faire avancer les choses i aimerais voir nouveau poste par vous Merci
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