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Unpaid Internships?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by SholdMediaGroup, Mar 30, 2014.

  1. Recently, the Ontario Ministry of Labour has begun cracking down on unpaid internships at magazines and potentially could be stretching that to other branches of the media.

    What are your thoughts on unpaid internships...is there a place for them? Did you benefit from one?

    Here is an article discussing the subject.
  2. SnarkShark

    SnarkShark Well-Known Member

    I benefitted from mine, but I generally agree that they should be illegal. If you work, you should get paid.
  3. SCEditor

    SCEditor Active Member

    Because of unpaid internship lawsuits, you're seeing a lot of them go away now in the media industry. It's good and it's bad.

    Should interns get paid? Yes. But we also work in an industry where staffers are underpaid, layoffs are always lingering and furloughs have become standard operating procedure for some companies. I'm not going to give a college kid some of my budget if I can give it to somebody on staff or keep somebody employed.

    The problem is this: A lot of schools require students to complete an internship to graduate. But you'll see a drastic drop-off in internships this summer in the media industry, because of those lawsuits. What do those students do now?
  4. ^^ I totally agree with you. I had to do an unpaid internship to complete my University degree...I ended up getting a job out of it down the road which really helped jump start my career in this industry.

    I think there is a place for those - I'd rather be in the industry getting hands on experience than doing essays and class projects.
  5. EStreetJoe

    EStreetJoe Well-Known Member

    "Lincoln freed the slaves. Never take an unpaid internship, get paid for your work." - advice my college journalism teacher gave to our class in 1989
  6. Bradley Guire

    Bradley Guire Well-Known Member

    I wasn't required to have an internship to graduate. I turned down an internship when I was told it was unpaid. Class credit didn't pay my lease or my utility bills, and I liked electricity and running water. However, I was able to pick up a few part-time positions at newspapers while in college. At one place, I was laid off and my position became an unpaid internship. I found this out when a buddy of mine was approached for it, but he turned it down. He had a paying offer and took that instead.
  7. boundforboston

    boundforboston Well-Known Member

    What happens when your boss sees he/she can get free content and chooses to fire that person you're trying to give more money to? Also, aren't unpaid internships illegal? I know they've come up a few times on this message board, but I don't remember whether there was some sort of consensus.
  8. I think it might depend on what jurisdiction you are in.
  9. SCEditor

    SCEditor Active Member

    Our company doesn't allow unpaid internships (now). I wasn't here when they did allow unpaid internships.

    If I want an intern this summer, I've got to find the money in my budget. If I have to find money in my budget, it's coming out of my correspondent/overtime budget. If I pull money out of my correspondent/overtime budget, I cover fewer football games during the fall. Therefore, I'm not having an intern.

    Again, I'm not arguing for or against unpaid internships. I think there's value for a student, earning college credit, to work at a newspaper (whether it's unpaid or paid). But many companies are eliminating internships, because they aren't permitted to have unpaid internships.

    I'll give you two examples I ran across last month: 1.) I've got a high school that runs an internship program, and they wanted to send me a kid twice a month for four hours a pop. Eight hours per month. The high school mandates the internship CANNOT be paid. By our company's rules, however, I can't accept the kid, because he's an unpaid intern. Lawsuits have ended the practice. 2.) I've got a kid at a really good J-school who wants to work a couple of days a week (for free) to get experience while she's home for college. Again, company rules dictate I can't hire her unless I pay her.

    If I could pay either of those people, I would. But I can't. So, because I can't pay them, they can't work. There used to be two options: paid internships and unpaid internships (if you wanted to gain experience). Now, there's only one option. And fewer of those paid internships are out there in this economic climate.
  10. ^^ Thanks for the input. Bit of a catch-22 for those who want to gain a bit of experience working a day or two for free.
  11. doctorx

    doctorx Member

    It's not all about money! How about dedication, by gum! Work for nothing and then you'll gladly take $18,500. Bootstrap, bootstrap, rah, rah, rah!
  12. Matt Stephens

    Matt Stephens Well-Known Member

    I definitely benefited from mine, now working at the place I interned in college, but we can't provide unpaid ones anymore. I understand it, but it's too bad. We had a lot of great help from them a couple of summers ago, especially in the photo department.
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