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Calling BS On Unpaid Internships

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the get-me-a-coffee dept.

Businesses 427

theodp writes "Getting an intern is so hot right now,' writes Stewart Curry. 'It's also bull**** 99% of the time.' IrishStu also provides his list of Interning's Big Lies: 1. 'You'll get training.' 2. 'We might hire you after the internship.' 3. 'You get to work with an awesome team.' 4. 'It will look great on your CV.' 5. 'You'll make great contacts.' So, who does it really hurt, Stu? 'Here's who it hurts — interns. You have them working for nothing. Here's who it hurts — people who need a wage in order to survive. Here's who it hurts — companies that want to pay people a decent wage for work they do.' Inside Higher Ed also checks in on The Great Intern Debate."

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427 comments

Why is some random guy's blog on Slashdot? (5, Insightful)

Meshach (578918) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643028)

Has the world gone mad?

Re:Why is some random guy's blog on Slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643058)

I was more surprised that this wasn't posted by kdawson.

Re:Why is some random guy's blog on Slashdot? (5, Insightful)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643092)

Rating:5,Insightful

Some guy bitches about being an intern and it's on the front of /.? WTF? Slow weekend because it's 4th of July weekend in the US? What's next "Calling BS on McD's minimum wage"?

If you don't want to be a unpaid intern... DON'T BE. Very simple solution. People don't choose to be unpaid interns, they HAVE to be because they have zero experience and can't get a paying job. Companies "hiring" unpaid interns choose that route because they've been burned by shitty no-experience-having employees in the past and want to test the waters, but if you're there more than a week and still not getting paid YOU ARE STUPID for staying.

Re:Why is some random guy's blog on Slashdot? (3, Informative)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643168)

I agree. I had to have an internship for my coursework. I ended up at some place that makes and sells bibles...
Long story short, the guy that was there didnt talk to me for 2 days. I literally just sat there. THe last day I was there I came in and he said he had to leave. I had no orders or information on what to do. So I left him a note stating that if he has no work, dont waste my time.
I spoke with the college about the issue and I got another internship, a better one.

Re:Why is some random guy's blog on Slashdot? (2, Informative)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643292)

"I had to have an internship for my coursework."

Unpaid internships are also mandatory in the medical field. Every potential nurse and doctor works hundreds of hours in hospitals before they're allowed to graduate. I only wish they did this for engineers and scientists, I would have loved the break from the books to get my hands dirty.

All of the examples in the blog are for graphic design internships, which is completely understandable why companies would choose interns for graphic design because unless you graduated from a top design school it's very easy to say "oh ya, I'm great at graphic design".

I think this guy is a drop-out with no skills and he's whining that he can't find a paying job. I'm sure this blog post will help STEWART CURRY find a great job. First problem, his website is bland and doesn't have any work examples [irishstu.com] . Second problem: the navigation bar at the bottom doesn't work well with Chrome. [irishstu.com]

Starting to see why no one wants to pay him, I hire web designers all the time and I certainly wouldn't hire him based on what I've seen. Also local web design is a dying breed, you can go online and find someone in China or Middle East that will create entire websites for $50. Sorry but outsourcing is here to stay, web design is not a great field to be looking for a job in.

Re:Why is some random guy's blog on Slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643450)

What makes his whining even more amusing is graphic design is a rare field where internships are generally worth it. You get some decent tips and tricks from professionals in the field and generally you get a chance to add a couple items to your portfolio. But yea, his website would certainly seem to indicate that the reason for his bitching is almost certainly because he's a really shitty graphic designer, so he can't find any work.

Re:Why is some random guy's blog on Slashdot? (2)

superwiz (655733) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643462)

If your engineering school doesn't have labs, facilities and such to actually accommodate engineering lab work, your degree isn't worth the paper it's printed on. I really mean it, by the way. Sorry if it's overly harsh. But there ARE plenty of good engineering schools in the US. They DO have labs in which engineering students get to build stuff. If you are not graduating from one of those, chances of you actually becoming an engineer after school are miniscule.

Re:Why is some random guy's blog on Slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643344)

I see unpaid internships as basically free schooling. In the computer industry, work experience is greatly favoured over traditional schooling anyhow.

moronic proposition (5, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643420)

"If you don't want to be a unpaid intern... DON'T BE. Very simple solution." proposition is akin to :

"If you dont want to buy from the 4 mega megacorporations monopolizing cleaning products, DONT."

Or

"If you dont want to get a plan from isps that do not violate network neutrality and tamper with your connection, DONT"

In an environment where some kind of practice is allowed to the extent that it becomes an 'industry standard practice', you cannot choose another option.

In civilized world (doesnt include america) corporations HAVE to pay interns at least minimum wage. Kids too. noone can have others work for him, and get out of it without paying for it. that is the way how it should have been, and it is the way how it is in civilized countries. apparently, it is again not as such, in usa.

why it isnt ? because you people allow, then rationalize and justify malpractice with the idiotic assumption that there will always be 'another choice' - let me wake you up to a fact - when you allow malpractice to become the norm, there is NO other choice.

Re:Why is some random guy's blog on Slashdot? (1, Informative)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643228)

random guys blogs are essentially the same as random news sites. essentially slashdot kind of started as some random guys blog. the intern stuff is true, of course, it's just unpaid work. the summary and article could have put emphasis on some graphical/advert firms which work practically entirely on unpaid interns. what does look great on cv is that someone PAID for your internship just because you were so cool, though, but that's not being an intern - that's real work experience. but if one doesn't in the computer field know that internships are bullshit then one hasn't read dilbert.

Re:Why is some random guy's blog on Slashdot? (4, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643316)

Maybe because internships are one of the biggest BS things going, but most of the people involved don't want to admit it because it goes against their own interests. Schools won't admit it, companies that use them won't admit it, and the students won't call BS because they won't graduate if they do ... so the cycle continues.

Interns are asked to pirate software [trolltalk.com] , defraud job training programs [trolltalk.com] , file off GPL copyrights [trolltalk.com] , help defraud customers [trolltalk.com] , and all sorts of crap [trolltalk.com]

Internships benefit the teachers, the colleges, and the politicians who say "we're doing something to help train people". It's all BS.

Re:Why is some random guy's blog on Slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643372)

... You really have no fucking clue? internships with actual decent companies are incredibly rewarding. Microsoft, Google, IBM, intel, etc. etc. Get an internship with these types of companies, and they pay you well and you get very valuable experience. Get an unpaid internship with a back-alley abortion clinic and, yeah, you will run into trouble.

Re:Why is some random guy's blog on Slashdot? (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643340)

Why not?

If some random guy came up with something insightful to say, why shouldn't it be? Would the same thought be more insightful of it was on Joel on Software, or whoever else is popular these days?

Re:Why is some random guy's blog on Slashdot? (2)

pinkeen (1804300) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643360)

Well, I don't see your point. If the topic is valid and the blog post is interesting then what's wrong. Why dismiss something just because 'random guy' wrote it?

(Disclaimer: I'm not talking about this posting in particular)

Re:Why is some random guy's blog on Slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643426)

This was on Hacker News [ycombinator.com] 2 days ago. I've noticed several articles show up on HN then show up on /. some number of days later.

This happens a lot (0)

Windwraith (932426) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643036)

This just happens everywhere, in any country I know, and it will keep happening, that's it. Just don't take those non-jobs.

Re:This happens a lot (4, Insightful)

Windwraith (932426) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643140)

Ugh, self-replying because I forgot to explain why.
The more people accepts working for free, more workplaces will take advantage of it. Just don't accept such jobs until they realize no one works for free.

Re:This happens a lot (1)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643250)

Not so much in the US.

In the US it's illegal for a for-profit company to accept donations and it's illegal to pay someone less than minimum wage.

So, the unpaid internships (at least the legal ones) are only in the non-profit sector.

Re:This happens a lot (1)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643330)

Not so much in the US.

In the US it's illegal for a for-profit company to accept donations and it's illegal to pay someone less than minimum wage.

So, the unpaid internships (at least the legal ones) are only in the non-profit sector.

Actually that's not true. But as the second article linked to in the story The Great Intern Debate [insidehighered.com] points out, internships at private businesses must satisfy six criteria (all of which are broad enough that they can be made to fit almost anywhere). There are many private for-profit businesses that have interns, and the number keeps growing.

Re:This happens a lot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643366)

Not true. The US Dept. of Labor lists six criteria a "for-profit" internship position has to meet before it can legally be offered unpaid:

http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.htm

This happens NOWHERE ELSE (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643416)

This just happens everywhere, in any country I know, and it will keep happening, that's it. Just don't take those non-jobs.

Well, you don't know many countries (any? except the US?). I haven't seen internships on the scale of the US in any other country - in most of europe this form of child/slave labour is illegal.

Unpaid interns and IRS (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643038)

IRS rules require that an internship be primarily for the education of the intern. So, like Microsoft and contractors you are risking really big problems if you do not comply, including fines and back pay.

Re:Unpaid interns and IRS (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643146)

Microsoft pays their interns, and pays them around 80% of a full time employee salary, although that depends on the length of the internship, a summer internship pays less. They also provide housing for some and other perks [nwsource.com] .

Internship or outsourcing? (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643174)

IRS rules require that an internship be primarily for the education of the intern. So, like Microsoft and contractors you are risking really big problems if you do not comply, including fines and back pay.

It's one or the other. And if you disagree you could find that internship filled with an immigrant rather than a self righteous self important self involved American.

Re:Internship or outsourcing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643466)

" filled with an immigrant rather than a self righteous self important self involved American."- I'm trying to figure out if you are anti-immigrant or anti-American

One-sided much? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643040)

Yes, damn those companies for mind-controlling us into being their unpaid interns! It's as if we have no free will! They'll shoot us if we leave!

Not all peaches... (1)

ttimes (534696) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643044)

Yep, without clear guidelines we only have warm fuzzy 'good intentions". Those don't show on a resume. Nor does an extended indentured servitude. There are possible good perks here, but the practice of it outweighs them. Anyone here have similar experiences with grad school? Med rotations? Let the intern beware...

A different perspective (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643054)

I interned for three straight summers for a company, was paid very well (started at $13/hr my first summer, ended at $18/hr my last summer), had school covered my last two years with the understanding that I'd come back after I graduated, and had a job lined up before I left to go back to school after my last summer. I've worked for them for 10+ years now since I graduated and still don't see any reason to go anywhere else. I worked on stuff that was interesting to me at the time with good people, in an organization that actually cared for their interns. Maybe I had a different experience that most interns, but I still tell students that interning is good for you. I think it depends more on where you choose to intern.

Re:A different perspective (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643230)

I interned for three straight summers for a company, was paid very well

So why are you bothering to post? This is about unpaid internships, moron.

Don't do it (5, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643056)

I can't speak for the medical, financial, or law industries, but if you get offered an unpaid internship in the computer industry, laugh that offer out the door. There are tons of internships in the computer industry that pay real money, so don't work for some company that is trying to rip you off. They will only rip you off more and more, then dump you.

Re:Don't do it (3, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643248)

While my field is IT, I work in the commercial aviation sector. We get interns all the time from local colleges, and all of them have been placed in either airport or airline jobs. In my sector at least, interning seems to pay off. We got lots aviation management majors and airlines seems especially quick to snatch them up.

It may well be the case that in a few fields, interning is a bad idea and it's just free labor with no real reward. But in other professions, not only does it provide real world experience that you don't get in a classroom, it seems to open doors to real jobs.

Re:Don't do it (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643288)

Please note, I didn't say, "avoid internships," internships are really good, you can learn a lot. Whatever you do, don't go for an UNPAID internship. It's a waste of time, because you can find internships that teach you and give you connections, except they pay you money as well.

Re:Don't do it (2)

fermion (181285) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643310)

I would agree with that for all industries, with qualifiers.'

I graduated college during a time when, like now, the number of jobs for college graduates were few and far between. If you have computer skills you probably had a good job, but there were a lot of people graduating with those skills. That said the people who had jobs were those that were able to gain real experience prior to graduating. Some of those, like me, were able to get a paying job. Others had intern. Of course the paying jobs were not that great. Additionally a number of students did not finish college choosing rather to work.

Looking back on it, if I were a more career minded person, an unpaid internship with a major player could have served me better than working as I did. Not that I would change anything, but i would never tell a kid to not an internship simply because it did not pay money. Experience is worth something. If the choice is working with competent people and not working at all, I might choose the unpaid work. The key, to me, is to do this while one is in school. An internship is like being unemployed, and in a competitive job market being unemployed is death. Being in school is not being unemployed. Only having an unpaid internship almost is.

Re:Don't do it (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643438)

I think the industry that most commonly employs unpaid interns is the financial industry, and I guess that makes sense. You're basically going into the business of ripping people off, so it is understandable you will get ripped off too in the beginning. Maybe you will be one of the lucky ones......

In before someone speaks for the businesses (4, Interesting)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643066)


"Getting an intern is so hot right now,' writes Stewart Curry. 'It's also bull**** 99% of the time.' IrishStu also provides his list of Interning's Big Lies: 1. 'You'll get training.' 2. 'We might hire you after the internship.' 3. 'You get to work with an awesome team.' 4. 'It will look great on your CV.' 5. 'You'll make great contacts.' So, who does it really hurt, Stu? 'Here's who it hurts â" interns. You have them working for nothing. Here's who it hurts â" people who need a wage in order to survive. Here's who it hurts â" companies that want to pay people a decent wage for work they do.' Inside Higher Ed also checks in on The Great Intern Debate."

In short, it encourages asshattery on the benalf of business. They can do whatever they want, and have it amount to de facto indentured servitude. Never mind that it limits the set of people to those who have outside income.

To handle that and associated problems:
1) Start making temporary work more expensive by making benefit/liability requirements multiply
2) Allow people to bypass requirements after UI runs out, or immediately if ineligible for unemployment.
3) End the idea of unpaid internships, since they're the result of unreal requirements being placed for work
4) Take a page from banks' structuring laws, put them into employment law, and make circumventing regulations nearly impossible.

Re:In before someone speaks for the businesses (1, Interesting)

sco08y (615665) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643358)

They can do whatever they want, and have it amount to de facto indentured servitude.

Do you think that if you say "de facto" it makes you sound like less of an asshat than "literally"?

Indentured servitude means you have a massive obligation to that person that you're working off. How is an internship "in fact" indentured servitude?

To handle that and associated problems...

When you inflate the cost of employing someone to more than the benefit they can bring to the business, they just won't get a job. See, as a simple example, minimum wage laws and 75% teen unemployment.

Tax evasion (2, Interesting)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643068)

I've seen cooperative training programs advertised on my university's website. The funny thing it was merely writing user documentation and they didn't care what you were majoring in. It was a paid position (bit over minimal wage). The reason it was good for the company is that they could avoid a lot of taxes, and get fairly intelligent person with knowledge of English and computer skills. (It was in Hungary, Nokia-Siemens Network.)

And the other side ? (3, Insightful)

Sentry23 (447266) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643070)

'Here's an intern, since you seem so very busy lately. They need to develop a useful application in 4 months, get to know corporate procedures, learn that an enterprise environment is different then a PC at home (no you can't reboot this server until the maintenance window is up, and you completed a valid change proposal for that utility), and oh yes, they do not get access to passwords so you take of of that, and just show them the ropes in your free time.'

Interns are mostly a waste of both our time if no adequate resources are allocated, management sees them as cheap labour, and interns come with unrealistic expectations.

unpaid internship does not look great on a cv (5, Interesting)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643072)

Unpaid internship does not look great on a cv; it's looks cheap. The best advice I got from my first job manager was: never work unpaid unless it is for a charity. Working unpaid is showing a lack of respect for your own self. If your work is worth something charge something.

Re:unpaid internship does not look great on a cv (5, Interesting)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643128)

It's also looks like you aren't good enough to get a job or that your skills and experience have been evaluated and you have been made a pay offer of $0.

Re:unpaid internship does not look great on a cv (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643280)

Very different mentality here in Europe, where "salaryless internships" are the norm... Yet I like your point, and will send it over...

Re:unpaid internship does not look great on a cv (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643440)

Make sure the work is all GPLed. Then it's all ok. :-)

Who's fault is it? (3, Insightful)

Oceanplexian (807998) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643074)

Lot's of tech companies are hiring -- so, it's really the intern's fault for getting conned into working for nothing.
The problem is that by doing unpaid work, you not only hurt yourself but other people (employees, contractors, etc.)

Just say no to unpaid internships. Any semi-reputable company can afford to pay you.

Re:Who's fault is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643284)

Any semi-reputable company can afford to pay you.

Just because they can afford to pay, doesn't mean that they will. I have a friend who was coerced into dropping out of college to work at one of the national lab in the US. He was sleeping on the couch at the lab and working well-over 40 hours a week. They never paid him a cent, but strung him along by promising to write him an excellent letter of recommendation. When he threatened to quit they just intimidated him into working more. (He eventually left and went back to college.)

Re:Who's fault is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643350)


Lot's of tech companies are hiring -- so, it's really the intern's fault for getting conned into working for nothing.

There is life outside of tech. It's often the case that a LOT of these internships are unpaid. Many fields this is considered normal. You're correct though, in the tech field unpaid internships are rare.

I do agree with your general sentiment though that an unpaid internship is just wrong. Frankly I think it should be highly illegal. We DO have minimum wage laws in this country, and there's no excuse that calling a job an "internship" should be able to skirt around that issue. The situation is essentially taking advantage of someone entering a job field where they suddenly have big loans to pay off, not a lot of experience in the field, and limited opportunities. Everything is slanted against these people, and it's just plain immoral that they're being taken advantage of by not actually paying them.

There's new competition now (4, Interesting)

e9th (652576) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643080)

It seems that thanks to the economy, you'll also be competing with older workers [reuters.com] for those internships now.

Any related internship is worth it (3, Insightful)

hsmith (818216) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643082)

You are blowing serious amounts of money on college, thousands to pay for worthless non-core classes to fill your year - yet you gripe over doing work that is beneficial to your career, gratis?

Take whatever you can get related to your intended career for your summer internships, they will be insanely beneficial when you get into the real world. You getting an A+ in your algorithms class doesn't matter to me at all as someone doing hiring. You having experience, knowing how the real world works is what matters.

Internships, paid or unpaid should be stressed more by school programs, their value is much more than anyone comprehends.

Re:Any related internship is worth it (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643348)

no, no, no..

one of the reasons the companies find interns is that a lot of education institutions require you to do work experience, so the local firms to those institutions have a steady supply of slaves who have to compete with each other to get an internship they must have to graduate. of course for those people it's logical to take whatever they can get, but that doesn't mean that it wouldn't matter where they go and take their internship or that it wouldn't actually be better if they instead took a paying gig - a paid gig you can always say to have been part of your career, a 'forced' internship is just part of the education tab, just another course mark. oh and doing work gratis(for the lulz) is different from an internship, very different.

not all people pay thousands for college either, just the stupid.

Re:Any related internship is worth it (2)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643370)

You are blowing serious amounts of money on college, thousands to pay for worthless non-core classes to fill your year - yet you gripe over doing work that is beneficial to your career, gratis?

That assumes that it is beneficial to their career. My suspicion is that a lot of people, through desperation, are getting scammed into doing crummy, low-grade jobs.

Here's the dilemma: if they're doing serious work, then what sort of company do they have experience in that would take such risks for important work (if you're unpaid, you can walk off site without any notice). If it's not serious work, it's worthless. Either way, it's a bad plan

Secondly, good companies with a future don't do free internships. They plan their investment.

Personally, I run a small business, and I would certainly not want someone unpaid doing work for me. If a project works out as paying sub minimum wage in dev costs then it isn't worth doing.

Re:Any related internship is worth it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643444)

I recall a famous character of the psychotic kind saying, "If you're good at doing something never do it for free."
My college professors told me to do stuff in my free time. Personal work, contribute to community projects, family or close friends. But never work for free.

Do what the Federal Government does (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643084)

I work at the USPTO. With the Federal Gov now cracking down on updaid internships our agency simply couldn't hire interns and pay them nothing anymore. So no we hire Externs. Change one letter and now their work is Free. http://usptocareers.gov/Pages/WhyWork/Students.aspx

Re:Do what the Federal Government does (1)

blowdart (31458) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643162)

our agency simply couldn't hire interns and pay them nothing anymore. So no we hire Externs. Change one letter and now their work is Free

Interns -> Externs is two letters. No wonder the patent office is fucked.

Re:Do what the Federal Government does (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643432)

Wow... HR needs an extern with an English or Communications major to go through and re-write the descriptions in proper English. I realize this might have been a rush job, but such write-ups reflect poorly on the entire USPTO. The write-ups should be held to the same level of excellence as patents undergoing the review process.

Seems every decade or so... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643086)

In the cycle that is economics, the lows are where folks do internships and in the early 90s when I was graduating it was not exception for those with average and below average skills and intelligence. Now with the US and world economy in the dumpers all but for the ultra rich and controlling influences its the norm to do internships paid for 7-10 bucks an hour and a bunch of crap for a line to join. Summary, it used to be young and stupid. Now it is questionable about creativity and the establishment at a time where the disinfranchised need to go out and make something wonderful happen that is not BS in and of itself. Evil begets evil, time for the creative and good spirits to take back from the behind-the-desk bastards that leech of society. Internships are crap, go to work for yourself and make it happen, become better if you want to be better.

OP is butthurt because they.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643094)

OP is butthurt because they found out that they weren't getting paid through an internship. You know OP, you can just not apply for an internship and go straight for the real deal if you think you have the skills. Oh wait, are you applying to become a nurse or something? Because if you are, you're required to do it. Good, now feel the butthurt flow through you.

Warn them all! (1, Funny)

CLaRGe (2267700) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643096)

Warn all those stupid interns that sitting at home depressed is better than working for nothing.

Hey what's the harm? (4, Insightful)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643100)

Someone has to serve the coffee. And make sure they use skim milk!

It can be a good experience though (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643104)

When I did my unpaid summer internship at Kramerica, I learned a lot! We did some real-world feasibility tests on cutting edge bladder systems for oil tankers.

Really, really, really Don't do it! (5, Interesting)

gremlinuk (454089) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643110)

You will sell yourself short, get crappy office tasks, not real training. It doesn't look good on a CV/resume ... if I read unpaid internship, I read 'MUG'.

There are plenty of proper paid jobs out there, including short term summer jobs.

Living in a European country, I was totally shocked to discover unpaid internships were showing up over here. Why on earth would I work for free ANYWHERE? Who on earth can actually AFFORD to work for free? Oh, yeah, the rich buggers who probably don't need to work anyway, or for whom Daddy will always be able to find easy, well paid work with one of their chums anyway.

Unpaid internships is a) exploitative bull-hockey, b) a mug's game.

What about startups? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643114)

Serious question here. Would it make sense for a startup to be looking for unpaid interns to help them get off the ground? I know that some startups tend to offer the first few employees stock instead of a salary (until salaries can be afforded), but would something like that work with interns too? It seems like interns could be very helpful at a startup (or some startups), so what model would work best?

Re:What about startups? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643246)

That's how startups usually start up. The interns know that they are in it for free to help a startup and regardless if they stay there or leave, they can say that they helped X start up and they are now (hopefully) very successful. This works great in silicon valley but unfortunately there are some downsides to it because a startup may take a year or two before it makes any decent income. Relying on it for money isn't wise and if the startup isn't successful you only gained experience and nothing fancy on your resume or a permanent job there. However there are definitively a lot of companies who offer "start-up" internships only to avoid having to pay staff and cycle through interns like it's nothing. Be very weary! Hell, I've been there before and after two months of work, they hire a whole new bunch of interns to do 90% of the work. This is illegal as interns aren't suppose to do a certain amount of work and there are limitations to what they are allowed to do. Know your rights so you don't get screwed over :)

Apprenticeships (4, Insightful)

wiggles (30088) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643120)

Let's be frank.

IT administration really ought to be considered a blue collar job. You learn a skill (Unix/Windows/Storage/etc), and you ply your trade.

Unfortunately, there is nowhere in the world to go to learn this stuff. College will teach you CS, programming, or engineering, but not administration. You could go to a for-profit college (like DeVry), but that's not going to be as good as experience in getting you a job. It's next to impossible to get an entry level IT job as a junior admin anymore if all you have is talent and no experience. What we really need to do in order to get new admins into the workforce is train them.

Internships are only the modern version of apprenticeships that blue collar unions (and trade guilds before them) have been doing for hundreds of years. Sure, you don't get paid squat, but you earn your stripes. You gain experience which companies will recognize when they're looking for a cheap admin.

Re:Apprenticeships (5, Interesting)

ductonius (705942) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643212)

I work in industry, and apprentices get payed in every blue collar job I've had contact with. Not only do they get paid, but get payed above average starting wage for that place in the world. If you're an apprentice that means someone with much more experience recognizes you have talent that's useful and can develop. You get treated like you're worth something, because you are.

The fact that many interns are unpaid is a tacit admittance that the workers are inherently worthless to the company. Unpaid internships need to be made criminal. They are the systematization and normalization of worker exploitation.

Re:Apprenticeships (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643384)

You get treated like you're worth something, because you are.

Or... you get hired as an apprentice electrician, and get payed $9/hour to dig ditches on a site paying prevailing wage while your employer pockets the extra cash because you don't know any better.

"Apprentice" positions can be abused too.

Re:Apprenticeships (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643408)

one could easily argue that they're a way to get around minimum wage. "thinking job" unions don't think, that's the problem..

Re:Apprenticeships (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643394)

you forget that with IT, the tools of the trade cost next to nothing - using the tools of the trade cost also next to nothing, if you have upkeep you can generate yourself experience so that you talk the talk and can walk the walk - no interning like abu necessary. much of the point is that unpaid internship DOES NOT EARN YOU STRIPES while hacking at home _does_. funny world, eh?

Absolutely (2)

JoeRandomHacker (983775) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643130)

What we really need are proper apprenticeships, where there is an agreement between the employer and apprentice where the former provides training -- along with compensation commensurate with obtained skills and effort, over time -- in return for service. This could replace full-time college studies in many cases, with apprentices taking individual classes that would prove valuable as needed.

it's for rich kids (2, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643156)

if you have 100 applicants, all mostly equally qualified, and one says "i'll work for free", you hire him or her

it's a way for the rich to destroy the meritocracy: they have the benefit of not needing money to survive, and they can use this to extend an unfair competitive advantage over equally qualified or even more qualified poorer candidates

free market fundamentalists need to understand that you need government regulating society to counteract the force of gravity that is money. money attracts more money, and this is a force of injustice that NATURALLY develops. without government controls counteracting this, society inevitably stratifies into classes, with the rich having all the money, and the poor leading miserable lives they can't escape

it is not possible to believe in a meritocracy and a free market at the same time. the two concepts are mutually exclusive

it doesn't mean we should be communist societies. it means that pure capitalist societies are just as evil as communist ones

the answer?:

balance, in all things: a capitalist society with socialist safety nets. the only society with true justice and maximized happiness and a rich vibrant middle class

Re:it's for rich kids (0)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643236)

it's a way for the rich to destroy the meritocracy: they have the benefit of not needing money to survive

I would argue that anything else (regulations, unions, wage laws) is a way for the poor to destroy self-sufficiency.

Re:it's for rich kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643352)

it's a way for the rich to destroy the meritocracy: they have the benefit of not needing money to survive

I would argue that anything else (regulations, unions, wage laws) is a way for the poor to destroy self-sufficiency.

Whereas clearly our hypothetical rich kid is pulling himself up by his (daddy's) bootstraps...

Re:it's for rich kids (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643388)

oh the poor destroy lots of things

for example, they destroyed the french monarchy, and the russian monarchy

some guys with wacky ideas came and told them they were entitled to more in life than to barely scrape by without any hope, and they believed it

those crazy poor people

the point is, if your society does not have a path for self-improvement, if it doesn't educate regardless of economic condition, if it doesn't provide for health regardless of econmic condition, if the door is closed to the possibility of a better life by a self-serving classist structure, revolution is the ultimate end point. inevitably

so you keep saying "let them eat cake"

it probably wont' hurt you. but like most self-contented rich assholes, you don't care about anything except yourself, even if it means your children or grandchildren will have to be the ones who have to deal the mess your mean-spirited "i got mine, fuck you" attitude creates in society. who cares what your offspring have to deal with, you got yours, right?

the point is not that the poor deserve anything. the point is what the poor will do, justly or unjustly, if you close the door on them

or: you just keep imagining they'll meekly accept their stagnant lot in life. can't hurt you, right?

go ahead, ignore history and it's lessons

Re:it's for rich kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643306)

Just wait till that free worker fucks up something important (on purpose or not), and you have to take him/her to court to recoup your losses. That'll be funny ;)

uhmmm... (1)

pwolf (1016201) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643206)

I worked at Intel as an unpaid intern for about 8 months. I didn't get hired afterwards, I didn't really make any great contacts (met some great people though). However, it was one of the best experiences of my life. I might go as far to say it changed my life. It all really depends on what you plan on getting out of it. You should also learn what your responsibilities and duties are going to be before you even start (like any real job). It's your own fault at that point.

Government Internship (1)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643208)

While I don't really agree with IrishStu on all of his Interning Big Lies, I'd say the "people who need a wage in order to survive" is the real biggest problem. It creates disproportion opportunity with those who are well-off enough* to move to wherever a job is and pay for rent and food without an income. It would seem this is part of the root of why government is so fucked up: government internship is so commonly done by people who are well-off and it's difficult for an "average Joe" to enter government. This isn't to say "average Joe" would inherently run the government better, but it would clearly seem that there's a conflict of interest and possibly even an biased agenda if one's guardians, who likely paid for your internship, are well-off because of stock, company ownership, etc and your career path is not grounded in the daily wage or yearly salary work under the subordinate whim and possible non-sequitur of a company.

*This doesn't necessarily mean people who are the children of the rich, but it strongly leans that way. In general, internships are the domain of would-be college graduates. While the poor can and do receive adequate loans to pay for college, they are unlikely to have sufficient funds to work on a no-pay internship. Meanwhile, the middle class generally can't get loans and sink most of their money into paying for a good/great college, generally leaving little that could be used towards a no-pay internship. The rich, however, by definition have sufficient funds, so they inherently could support a no-pay internship. Now, the poor or the middle class could potentially save sufficiently prior to college towards an internship (although that means devoting money towards the internship instead of a "better" college), they may take a position as an assistant lecturer if they're in grad school (which does nothing to help undergraduates), or they could wait until after college after saving up money to work in an internship (which beyond delaying one's career by multiple years, might become a hindrance to one's hiring).

I use interns... and hire some of them too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643210)

I use unpaid interns... and yes, it does give them training, they do get a great team to work on, and I've hired 2 of the last 3 that I've had. It's great for me because training costs are high enough that I wouldn't hire someone straight out of school who is untested... this is the only way that I will hire a new grad, but if they prove themselves, I WILL hire them at a competitive salary.

Sorry that your experience wasn't that great, so either you didn't get on with someone who was qualified to take you on... or you screwed up.

If you are good, companies will compete for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643234)

I work for Mozilla. We have a fantastic internship program. We pick the 60 or so best undergraduate and graduate students in the world every year, and we pay them very well (competitive stipend, free transportation to Mountain View, free housing, free food, free laptop). But you have to be outstanding.

Lead Intern Software Engineer wanted (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643268)

So this is kind of a funny story... my first real job in the Software Development industry was as an unpaid intern for a very small document management company. Very small as in, when I got there, it was just my boss, his son, and I. I was the only Software Engineer, yet also somehow an Intern. I created our document management system from the ruins of a 14 year old source code base that only ran on Windows 3.1, and then made anything they dreamed up over the next 4 years or so.

After a few months they started paying me about 9$/hour, and when I graduated they gave me about 48k/year without benefits. I stuck around, thinking it would go somewhere but it never did. I left and immediately got 50% pay increase and full benefits at the next job I applied for.

It wasn't until that moment that I realized that I had been at a level between "underpaid" and "indentured servant," particularly when I was working as our unpaid intern lead software engineer. I thought you guys might get a kick out of that story.

Pharmacy Internships are often in the BS category. (1)

SacredNaCl (545593) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643276)

Most of the pharmacy internships wont let you do much more than file paperwork, stock shelves, and handle minor bookkeeping tasks. A lowly pharmacy technician gets more out of their regular employment in terms of training than the average pharmacy internship. (Yes, there are exceptions, but they are few.) However, those internship, and practicum hours are required to get the doctorate degree.

The only useful internships I saw where with places that did review for patients in long term care facilities, with insurance companies (ironic beyond belief that insurance companies are often doing a better job training future pharmacists than are hospitals, and community pharmacies), and a handful of very small pharmacies where the individual PIC made a decision to do something educational with it. The hospitals don't want the liability issues, but they do want the free "stock boy" help...

Entrenching the Class Divide. (5, Insightful)

Ga_101 (755815) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643302)

Internships are like poison to a meritocracy based society. Unpaid internships doubly so.

They allow richer parents to use both their money and connections to manoeuvre their children into jobs that have wealth, power or both. This comes at the expense of poorer and middle class children who can not bankroll their children in adulthood or do not move in the right social circles.

A classic example in my country (UK) was a fund raising event for the Conservative party. Internships at top flight financial and legal firms were auctioned off the party donors to raise funds for the party. No, I did not make this up : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1356469/Cash-internships-Tory-backers-pay-2k-time-buy-children-work-experience.html [dailymail.co.uk] (apologies for linking to the Daily Mail, but credit where it is due, they did break this story).

These sort of actions entrench wealth and power with those who already have them. An internship via connections or unpaid work is a boot in the face of those who can not ride out life on Daddy's coat-tails.

Co-op/Intern (1)

phrostie (121428) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643312)

when I was going to school to earn my A&P(2 year tech school) i went on a Co-op where i was paid.

later when I was working on my Engineering degree(4 year B.S.), I was offered an Intern where i'd work for free for the summer.

what does this say for the jog market for 4 years of B.S.?

Depends On Context And Company. (4, Interesting)

cosm (1072588) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643318)

When I was in college, I had a shitty job at a restaurant. I volunteered at a local software company during my off-hours to get resume experience, ~15 hrs a week. After about 3 months I had to quit because school and work became too intensive. About a month after leaving the unpaid internship (which I landed by just walking in the front door cold turkey and asking if they had anything open), they called be back and asked if I would come code for them (since I already knew the company way and the code base. It got me experience, out of a job I really despised, and now I could not be happier. YMMV. Of course there are places that will step on you, but there is merit to working for free. It shows that you are willing to commit to something out of passion and drive to learn the material and be a contributor, and that your not just in it for the money. Yes I know people are starving rah rah and shame on me for working for free, but common, this blog just comes on a little to strong. Do what you have to do to get a job, and if you feel like you are getting the shaft at your internship, SHOP AROUND. There is no end all be all and absolutes do not exist; I don't think you can paint all unpaid internships in such a negative light.

Tell me another one (1)

guspasho (941623) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643332)

"companies that want to pay people a decent wage for work they do"

HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!

(breathes in)

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!

BS... Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643354)

I guess I am expection to this case. I worked for an intership for a small company back in 2003. It was unpaid and I gained work experience. After a year they started to pay me hourly for my work and continued loyality. Eventually the pay increased has they hired me as a consultant. I don't work for them anymore as my career started to shift but I am greatful that I did my unpaid intership, the experience was great and it helped me land my current job as it looked great on my resume.

If giving the choice, I would do it again in a second.

when you are a coffee boy or copy boy = slave (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643362)

when you are a coffee boy or copy boy = slave

Interns are there to learn and not work for free or do grunt work. At least pay the min wage.

some colleges even make you pay to be a work for free Intern.

Only time I'd consider an intern position (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643364)

...is working for a company I look up to. It's less about training and more about fulfilling a dream. The work experience I can put on my resume is great, but it's far more about working for a company I like and potentially getting hired there. I'd never take an intern position at an unknown company.

works for many (1)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643376)

My wife got a gig as an engineering internship her senior year of college - we graduated on the same day and she had a guaranteed job making about $3000 more than I did when I got my first engineering job out of college 2 months later - wish I had interned !!!

Thats why I'm interning at Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643382)

Microsoft intern experience is really awesome. Not trolling, but yeah, most companies just get work done for free. And i get to work on live projects here!

wrong as bachmann.. (1)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643386)

1. 'You'll get training.'
well, out intern is getting a lot of training, both in a highly specialized biotech skill useful in about 4 labs in the US, in general biotech lab stuff, and in seeing how a startup actuallyworks
2. 'We might hire you after the internship.' we have already done this (score is 1 out of 1) our current intern would ccertainly be offered a job if she wasn't a sophomore
3. 'You get to work with an awesome team.'(modesty forbids)
4. 'It will look great on your CV.' modesty aside, I and my boss have pretty decent reps in the biotech area; a letter from us would help
5. 'You'll make great contacts.' certainly true here
as they say, ymmv

Temporal slavery through deceit. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643390)

That is what it simply is. deceiving youngsters to work for free with promises not guaranteed. its as if hiring someone, and saying 'i may or may not give you your paycheck'. exceptions do not make a rule.

it should be banned and anyone who is doing that should be heavily prosecuted.

replace them + part of class with apprenticeship (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643402)

replace them + part of class / school time load with apprenticeship. What about a 1-2 school + 1-2 year apprenticeship for IT / CS?

Mine Was Paid... (1)

muindaur (925372) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643452)

...though barely. I made minimum wage, and was promised work after should I work hard enough. Well, not only did it involve not a single line of code, but it was HS diploma monkey work following a checklist that was printed out to make sure the software worked. So I got zero experience in automation testing or practice in coding it. At the end of the internship, despite working hard for them (including nearly full time with Saturday mornings that did affect my grades by a letter grade), I was told there was nothing available. AKA I was a cheap lab monkey they could use during their busy season (the full time lab monkeys got paid $13/hr.)

The end result was that I was graduating school with no job, and most places had just filled their rolls with recent grads. So I went out into the job hunt, and was told by some places that, despite my good understanding of the programs I had written, I didn't have enough experience for them (some even saying "if you had been an intern.") The depressing part was the slacker that had to take five years, and I had to help with projects had a job already. /endrant

Pay interns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36643456)

Interns are expensive, whether you pay them or not, they aren't that productive and they eat up time from people who are. Interns are also like new employees that you can actually get rid of easily simply by failing to make them an offer. Good interns are good word of mouth to the rest of their school, helping with recruiting.

Paying interns helps negate some of the productivity costs they impose on the team they are on. Paying interns makes it easier to attract interns you will actually want to hire. Paying interns helps the ones you make offers to actually accept the offers. Paying interns helps suppress some of the potential bad word of mouth from those interns you don't decide to make an offer too.

Pay your interns!

Graduate work is right that also. (1)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 2 years ago | (#36643458)

Graduate students who do real research should be paid much, much more than they are. It exploits them, and it make it very difficult for MS level research engineers to make a living, because they're competing against almost free labor.

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