Monday, May 2, 2011

New Book on Unpaid Interns

Intern-Nation-frontcover Thanks to friend of the blog, David Yamada, for sending news of a new book that focuses on the rising use of unpaid interns: Intern Nation by Ross Perlin. From the book's description,

The first no-holds-barred exposé of the exploitative and divisive world of internships.

Every year, between 1 and 2 million Americans work as interns. They famously shuttle coffee in a thousand newsrooms, congressional offices, and Hollywood studios, but they also deliver aid in Afghanistan, build the human genome, and pick up garbage. They are increasingly of all ages, and their numbers are growing fast—from 17 percent of college graduates in 1992 to 50 percent in 2008. Almost half of all internships are illegal under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and this mass exploitation saves firms more than $600 million each year. Interns enjoy no workplace protections and no standing in courts of law—let alone benefits like healthcare.

Ross Perlin, an ex-intern himself, has written the first exposé of this world of drudgery and aspiration. In this witty, astonishing, and serious investigative work, Perlin takes the reader inside both boutique nonprofits and megacorporations such as Disney (which employs 8,000 interns at Disney World alone). He profiles fellow interns, talks to historians about what unleashed this phenomenon, and explains why governments in the US and Europe may finally be moving to rein in the internship boom.

Insightful and humorous, Intern Nation will transform the way we think about the culture of work.

David does a thorough review of the book on his blog, Minding the Workplace, outlining the book and offering a link to his article (cited in the book as the best single source of information for American internships and the law) The Employment Law Rights of Student Interns.

Books, Wage & Hour, Workplace Trends | Permalink

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With the changes made for wage-hour labor this past year intern labor laws are soon to appear. I have a feeling we will have many of our politicians as defendants in wage hour suits.

Posted by: Dave K | May 4, 2011 9:22:41 AM

I was talked by the head of my school into taking an unpaid internship in revenue management working for his friend from Cornell (I wanted Marketing, but he promised me a great career). I finished and the company was restructured. The "Star Career Academy" is throwing their # 1 student to the curb. I have been told that I should have been A. paid, B. they would pay against my loans, or C. guarantee me a position based on performance.

Am I correct? I owe a lot of money for nothing I feel.

Thank you for any input.

PS I feel used since I set the rates and did all the competitive research for three hotels in Times Square.

Posted by: Carrie Ann Wyeth | May 11, 2011 5:04:21 PM

My daughter recently accepted an unpaid internship for a small internet company in NYC. She was told that she would work 4 hours daily four days a week, so that she would have time for paid employment to assist with living expenses. Her duties and opportunities for learning/developing skills in social media for the company were clearly defined. After 3 days on the job she discovered that the individual who hired her and would essentially be her mentor, was leaving the company. She also learned that he would not be replaced and that her new title is Director of Marketing! The CEO of the company called her into his office and laid out a detailed list of duties and essentially expects a 45 hour work week, all for a weekly stipend of $75.00. She is of course very upset; she is finding it difficult to find paid employment with her limited availability. She requested further compensation for her work considering the increase in hours and responsibility and was flatly refused My feeling is that this illegal and must be in violation of minimum wage laws. Can anyone comment on this?

Posted by: Karen | Jun 6, 2011 11:04:13 AM

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