News Flash: Many Unpaid Internships Are Illegal

3 Apr

I know what you did last summer…

An unpaid internship, most likely. We all think about it — do I suck up and make negative money for a summer to make the “connections” or do I try to make some bank or do I sit at home playing video games?

Well, as the NY Times points out today, your unpaid internship may be illegal:

Ms. Leppink said many employers failed to pay even though their internships did not comply with the six federal legal criteria that must be satisfied for internships to be unpaid. Among those criteria are that the internship should be similar to the training given in a vocational school or academic institution, that the intern does not displace regular paid workers and that the employer “derives no immediate advantage” from the intern’s activities — in other words, it’s largely a benevolent contribution to the intern.

Well, well, well. Feeling better about yourself already? I wouldn’t get too excited. Unpaid internships are still going to happen (like child labor). But know that you have some leverage to get at least minimum wage at many intern spots. I wouldn’t be confrontational with employers but the law is (likely) on your side.

(more on internship and labor laws)

UPDATE 4/6: Atlantic Media kicks things off by offering their current interns and last year’s interns pay. As a former (paid) intern for NPR, if that announcement in the Atlantic offices wasn’t met with cheers, I’ll be devastated. Those interns better be planning a parade for their publisher because they don’t know how lucky they are.


2 Responses to “News Flash: Many Unpaid Internships Are Illegal”


  1. Unpaid Internships « - August 30, 2010

    […] UPDATE: For more on unpaid internships, check out Ryan’s post questioning the legality of many practices used by employers today. […]

  2. Interns: Slaves or Heros? « - August 30, 2010

    […] to change no matter how much people gripe about how unpaid internships are the root of all evil and against the law. Yes, it is wrong. The SAT also discriminates against  people from less wealthy backgrounds too. […]

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