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Are unpaid internships valuable experience, or just unpaid labor? Let us know what you think, G+.
Russell Pritchett's profile photoS Jackson's profile photoAntônio Carlos Amorim Oliveira's profile photoYamanatan Kac's profile photo
As someone that has spent more than a year of the last two years since I graduated as an unpaid intern... unpaid labor for sure. The businesses would love my help, readily take my expertise in cutting down the workload, but when it comes to an actual paycheck? Sorry, we don't have room for you.
I do not think that unpaid labor are rational. As labor should be paid rationally. Volunteers are different from unpaid labors. It is unfair for us to ask free labor.
The question is, what incentive does a business have to provide a great learning experience for an intern? Either way, the business will continue to receive free labor. Asking a business to provide a positive experience for their free employees with no incentive goes against the very capitalistic enterprise the business was founded on. The worst part is when students PAY their university to do these types of jobs.
Re Mi
It can be free labor and a bad experience however, with the right words, it can also look good on your resume!
+Cesar Ramirez That's the whole point though. If a business isn't going to hire and pay you for entry-level positions, does it matter how nice your resume looks?
I disagree with unpaid internships. I think it is unpaid labor and unfair to students who feel they have no choice in making it forward in their career after college.
+Timothy Shaw I agree. I do believe in lower pay internships though, as the intern doesn't add much value and is really learning on the company dime.
+Timothy Shaw I wouldn't mind if companies brought me in as an unpaid intern with a clear plan to convert me to a paid employee after I gain a certain level of expertise or am trained to do the position. That's not happening though. They bring me in to work, don't pay me, and let me sit there until I get frustrated and leave, then they bring another unpaid intern in to do the same thing. Meanwhile I bounce from unpaid internship to unpaid internship hearing the line "if we hired you, you could start tomorrow with no training, but we're not hiring." You have no idea how exceedingly frustrating it is.
+Jeffrey Hamby I also agree that the level of pay should properly reflect the skill level of the intern. It should at least be minimum wage. In addition, interns are typically hourly so they have minimal overhead cost; so companies shouldn't be griping about the cost of hiring interns.
Unpaid labor in my experience. Although in the science community one does this to get a possible Letter or Recommendation or write the experience down on their CV. I think there should be a push for at least a modest stipend to cover some transportation and/or food costs. Considering if you're doing an internship, money is either coming from savings, loans or parents.
internships are a scam. No one should have to provide free labor on the conditional promise of being better off tomorrow. If your qualified you should be paid. If your not, you should find a smaller company with less stringent requirements and work your way up to build Ur resume. Cheap labor, yes. Free labor, no.
It's pretty obvious that it's unpaid labor.
Both! I've had my fair share of unpaid internships, but they have been great experiences and have certainly enhanced my resume. I've had 50/50 luck getting small travel stipends. The worst an internship advisor can say is "no" and it certainly doesn't hurt to ask.
With the amount of training that companies and employees spend on unpaid interns, just to have them walk out the door, the company really doesn't get as much out of it as you might think.

Everyone always questions how to get the experience that all of the job listings are asking for. Unpaid internships are a tool and a choice. Use it wisely if you choose to do it, don't be afraid to ask questions about how your new coworkers were able to get into the industry. Take the opportunity to build your network. Keep in touch after the internship and let them know how your career is going.

I've never been an intern, but I'm pretty impressed by the interns I've worked with. They asks so much about my career and have a genuine interest in the field. And I think they're getting a lot of free advice. I wish they were paid, but that part is out of my hands. I'm glad to help them as much as possible. I was able to get a low pay job in my field right out of high school, but an internship is an option to get your foot in the door.
In my line of work, unpaid interns are unheard of. I was able to pay my 2nd year of grad school with internship money.
"are designed to enhance the educational experience" what educational qualifications do the people that supervise the role have then?
It's hard to classify all unpaid experience in black and white -- but the overall trend looks like unpaid labor with potential for valuable experience. Also, paid internships may provide zero career benefits if someone does it just to make money rather than learn from the experience.
I don't have a college degree. About 20 years ago, I started doing computer animation as an unpaid intern and after 4 months was offered full time employment. I am now paid very well to do graphics for a large law firm. Without that internship opportunity, I wouldn't be here, as there's no way I could have afforded the $3500 software or the server network required to actually render animations. My internship wasn't paid labor, it was a free education, free access to hardware/software and, more importantly, a foot in the door.

A while back, a young man working at TGIF was looking to break into the industry. As it was mid-recession, I couldn't hire anyone, but really wanted to bring him in as an unpaid intern. Would have given him access to the tools and the experience of myself and my colleagues, and also given me the opportunity to evaluate his potential for a time when I was actually able to hire.

Alas, California law doesn't allow me to hire an unpaid intern, and that young man is still working at TGIF.
Re Mi
I'm starting to wonder that it's probably harder on some fields than others?

internship for engineers is not about ordering stuff or bringing coffee
+Ken Kimura Definitely, I think it's up to the intern to take the initiative and make the most of it. If you're interested in an internship, you probably should have clear goals in mind and do whatever it takes to achieve them. Most of the interns I've seen are like this which is pretty impressive. When we're looking for freelancers, that's where we go
For most jobs, unpaid labor (much like low wages) is not a good thing. There are exceptions, such as fields where practical training (apprenticeships, basically) in-place of a traditional/college education is an option, but that's not what how most post-graduate internships pan out. Instead, it looks more like internships are eating into entry level positions where a person would have formally received pay, training, and experience.
People should be payed while in internships.
At least a minimum wage. Otherwise it's exploration, just a way for employers to get free manpower.
When appropriate positions and duties are filled by unpaid interns it can be a valuable learning experience. However, when you are spending 40+ hours a week sorting files and forwarding phone calls, you are just being an unpaid secretary. Get with it folks, don't put up with nonsense jobs. You should know in 1-7 days if a job is B.S.
Internships/Work Experience Programs are Criminal!
I cant walk around Tesco or Wall-mart opening up
fruit and tasting it to see if they meet my standards
or cracking beers to see how they taste etc.
(they call that shoplifting!), so how can these guys
justify their theft of labour (the most expensive input)?
Its time to criminalise this practice!
If you can learn a lot from the internship, defnitely, it is valuable wether you are paid or not. If it doesn't, it makes no sense to accept the internship.
Unpaid internships are cruel and here's why: I realize I need the experience (and I want it) but at the same time I need money to a greater extent in order to live and be self sufficient (carry my own weight, not be a burden to my parents/state/country). So, I get sucked into a vicious cycle of not having relevant experience -> not having a serious job because I need relevant experience.
Valuable for internee, unpaid for employer.
I'm stuck in the vicious cycle myself. The paid internships in my area for my degree are slim to none. The job I have is hardly related to my degree, but I have to make money. Now I'm graduating with zero "work experience" and struggling to find a job.
+Jeffrey Hamby sure if your being 'educated' by for example the CEO or other of that business, you could argue that there is an benefit to that if however you're being 'educated' on how to complete a role within that business, or being given 'general duties' to perform that is a job and you should therefore be paid for it, I would suggest most internships fall into that latter.
I think having a paid internship is very important to make sure that companies are only offering internships to people that they actually plan to put to work. There is nothing worse than an internship where you end up with no work or responsibilities, or are assigned entirely to simple tasks (make some copies, get coffee, etc). In this case you are wasting the time and money of both the intern and the company.

When the employer isn't paying for the time, they tend to waste it, or take on more interns than they can use. However, if they are paying a wage, they will hopefully expect some work output in exchange.

As far as costs go, interns still often do not get any benefits and are paid much much less than the rest of the employees. So it's still a good deal for the business that brings on the inexperienced person.
I don't think that "valuable experience" is worth the unpaid intenrship. If you are able to get a job w/o a prior internship you also learn while being paid (that doesn't lower the value of any worker). So the fact that you are getting benefits from an interniship (say experience) is not enough reason to say that it is fair not to be paid. Just my opinion....
Just unpaid labor; been there, done that. My internship was a complete waste of time because the employer didn't give me any tasks to complete that would teach me anything or any skills. I came out of the internship with no money, no lessons learned, no skills acquired. All I accomplished was a lot of menial crap.
It is the intern's choice to work there for no monetary compensation. No one is forcing them to do the internship. Does it provide very valuable work experience, especially into today's highly competitive marketplace? Yes. Each person must ask themselves if they want that experience bad enough to take an unpaid internship. The girl in the article, if it was really that bad then she should have quit.
unpaid labour. The only time it would be good if the unpaid intern is then offered a job in the place where he or she volunteers.
labor can still be learning, yes you may have done unnecessary amounts of work and feel dumb about it, but in the end, if you walk away from any work saying you didnt learn something, somethings wrong.
That's the point as long as there're students that still engage, out of desperation (me included), in these unpaid internships (because otherwise no one will consider them), companies will keep taking advantage of that.
But is suing the company because you were stupid enough to get taken advantage of the real solution? No it isn't. If you're being taken advantage of, resign and go somewhere else. People need to take responsibility for their lives. And maybe instead of partying during college, you should find valuable work experience and don't wait until you graduate.
I think you are judging people without knowing them, how do you know she was parting during college?. I don't think she is a unique case she is one of the few who took actions about it. It is not just about one person not getting what they were expecting form an internship, I think is a lot of people feeling that way, that's the problem in a common practice not a "study case"
I agree that it is a problem. But the solution isn't to sue when you feel that it is a problem, the solution is to quit the internship and possibly start informing other students as to how "worthless" interning at that company is.
Its just unpaid labour when you think from the perspective of organizations, Young fresh graduates are desperate and that what they are capitalizing on.
I think that's the point you can't assume that for everyone is the same case. I am sure there are people that weren't interested in acquiring relevant experience when it was a good time to do so because they were partying (or whatever) during college, but I am sure there is also a lot of people that did and it wasn't enough. My point is, is ok that student don't get full wage for their work but at least something representative that would be enough for transportation and food, because it still work. I just think is dignifying and anyone doing a good job (even when doing it while learning) deserve that.
Almost always unpaid labor. There are exceptions (nonprofits, apprenticeships, intern-to-become-regular employee positions, etc.) but most unpaid internships are a violation of labor laws and student rights. I currently intern for a nonprofit and have gained significant, valuable experience in my time there. And even though the organization doesn't have the funds to provide me a salary or hourly wages, they at least cover my transportation/food expenses. Companies (especially small businesses and independent entrepreneurs) who offer "internships" with a lengthy list of requirements and responsibilities but claim "experience" to be pay enough are unjust, unfair, and totally unacceptable. I think it's time some real legislation were enacted.
An internship is an opportunity for you to gain experience in your chosen profession and possibly get your foot in the door at a place you'd like to work. If a particular internship doesn't offer you that opportunity, you shouldn't take it.

If I bring you on as an unpaid intern, and you distinguish yourself by doing exceptional work, it would be stupid of me not to offer you a job when the opportunity presents itself.

If, as an employer, you demand that I pay you, I'm more likely going to just find someone WITH experience and hire them and you will still be without a job and without experience.

Be careful what you wish for.
I've never had an internship, but I've know friends that have and it is usually because the market is flooded with a particular degree and nobody is standing out from the pack.
We pay our interns quite a lot. However, experience & knowledge trumps a paper diploma any day. Unpaid internship trumps no job at all. Get experience while looking for a paid job.
Got to love artificial barriers to entry.
Gerald I guess is your lost probably you had brilliant people coming at your door that and you just let them past. Experience doesn't make you the best is just that experience
+Ornella Felizzola, there are two sides to every coin. Taking on someone as an employee is a huge responsibility and comes with big risks to the employer, especially here in California. I can't afford to just hire someone and hope that they do ok, because (1) it's difficult to separate someone who doesn't work out, and (2) it makes it far less likely that I will be trusted in my future hiring decisions.

So the best thing for me is to either hire someone with known work experience, or test them out if they don't have any. Unpaid internships make it easy to do the latter; if it doesn't cost the company anything, it's a no-brainer for me to get you in (well, it would be if I could actually still do that in CA...). I would actually prefer someone with a young, fertile and creative mind, but having a college degree tells me very little about whether or not you're actually worth the risk. The one guy that I did hire based solely on his education, was a total flop. That was years ago and I still get a bit of stink-eye from my boss about it today.
what's the difference between training and internship, that's a question
Sometimes, I think it's just a way to get skilled labor to fill positions until the suits figure out how to offshore/outsource the positions. It's a way for businesses to boost productivity with a minimal cost increase, however, it only works in a flooded labor market where the cost of an entry level position is pushed to $0.00. One of the problems with this, however, is that it ultimately detracts from the economy that those workers participate in - which leads to a vicious downward spiral of deflation. If more corporations (or governments) were smart, they'd be paying people not only for training/interning, but also to continually attend school and increase their human capital. Any economist will tell you that education is one of the few investments proven to increase returns that doesn't rely on limited physical resources. In my opinion, it's another symptom of the short-sighted nature of the quarterly report, and that on a corporate or national scale it boils down to: invest in your labor force or suffer the long-term consequences of becoming unable to keep up with the competition.
Keep making excuses for why you're not getting hired and you'll never get hired. Somebody IS getting hired.

This is just suing-away another tool that employers can use to get young people into the workforce. Remember that you asked for it.
Unpaid labor is unpaid labor, no matter how you cut it.
Weigh it. Google it :) If there are success stories from interns at the company you're looking at, do it. If it's a sweatshop, don't and hold out for a better offer. Let the market decide. No one should be forced to intern, but let them if they want to.
Makes me think of the Craigslist "Gigs" section on a global scale. Occasionally, legit gigs are posted, but the majority of posts border on "scams". Having a job in the entertainment industry makes me feel sorry for all the people who respond to ads with the only benefit promised was, "it will look great on your demo reel...".
+Gerald Hines I would even consider indirect employment through manpower companies, before I turn to employ human beings without pay. It seem that you might want to pay someone to choose your new employees.

Fortunately I was privileged to live in a generation where every human beings are starting to realize that they deserve an autonomy on there free will, as same as everyone ales.

[+Tamir Spiegler +Rick Clark alon marcos]
+ilan shpiegler, that's your choice. I can completely understand people who NEED the money and can't do internships because of that reason, but this general principal argument about people working without pay, as if they're slaves or something, is why a lot of folks here will NEVER find a job. An internship done right is an opportunity, for both employer and employee, and you people act like it's some sort of slap in the face.

Like I said, when you've litigated it out of existence, and you don't have any way at all to get experience or your foot in the door, remember that you asked for it before you open your mouth to complain again.
Daniel I think I would disagree. If she was 19 and not in college, they would not make her work without paying her. I don't know why because she's in college she doesn't need the money. If anything, she needs the money more. I've done several unpaid internships which would be illegal under the new proposed statutes and it's completely unjust. One summer, I worked at an unpaid internship full time and still had to work 2 part time jobs in order to be able to have any spending money. I also worked all the way through school. I don't think anyone is claiming that college students give up their summer, only that the level of pay (aka 0) is equal to the experience. Please spare the world your "college students are lazy fools" spiel. If someone told you that in order (maybe) get a job a later, you would have to work for free for 3 months 4 years in a row, would you do it?
In my opinion is just unpaid labor in most of the cases.
slavery in modern world.. lol..
unpaid, can not say i will be supportive.
I might be starting in few weeks time a three month unpaid internship my self, but I am still not sure what to think about it..
I have actually PAID to do a one-month internship!
1) ICDL. + exp with HP/Epson printers.
2) Expert user Ford vehicles (> 1600cc exp vital!).
3) Level 3 Mobile Coms Qualification (Blackberry exp a must!).
4) Experienced at eating red apples. (greeners' need not apply)
5) Three legs good! (-4 & -2 or wings (They = Bad))
6) Masters or Doctorate in Snoring.
7) IQ below 75.
8) Shoe size 7-9 (UK)
9) Ability to tolerate extreme boredom
10) No self esteem
You are an INTERN, not an employee and under 'supervised training' as you learn the ropes. Once you are through the hoops, life will improve. Usually, not always, there is some consideration made for stipends and per diems, but not much more beyond this.
An unpaid internship was a requirement for graduation and was one of my best college experiences, but not for the reasons you might think. As a matter of necessity, I have held down fulltime employment since the age of 16. This internship was the first time in my life where I was working for free, and instead of being resentful for giving my time away, I found the experience incredibly liberating. Not being motivated by money or a desire to move up within the company, my sole motivation was doing the best that I could do for my own satisfaction. I was surprised by how enthusiastic I was and by the high quality of work I put out once all of the normal pressures were lifted. The experience taught me to seek employment where I could feel the same sense of liberation -- to deliver high quality results because it feels good, not because I'm getting a paycheck -- and to settle for nothing less in my future career.
It should be incredibly simple: The intern is being paid with the knowledge the company is bestowing.

That being said. No knowledge is gained when one picks up dry cleaning and coffee. Just as a paid job, if the employer stops paying you, you quit. If knowledge is the form of payment, and it is lacking or has stopped... you freaking quit.
I've paid everyone who has ever worked for my businesses.
One thing that f*cks me off though is the stupid requests for
references I get from potential employers once they have left.
They send me stock response-tickbox forms - pathetic!
No human can-should be pigeon-holed by these moronic
Lazy HR forms, and people who cannot even pick up the phone and
ask about the person...a simple question like;
"Mr/Ms X has told her all about her wonderful qualities...
can you tell me why I shouldn't hire him/her?" is even beyond them...
If the person worked well, an honest response would be "NO - i'd hire them!"
If there was a clash of personalities (employer incompetence)
then the reasons to hire them would roll forth...Paradox!!
+Thomas Limoncelli welcome to the age of antisociability. Playgrounds are empty, kids scream at each other anonymously over video game networks, and adults can't look each other in the eye when they speak. Why call when you can text... sound familiar?
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