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Posts tagged ‘Fair Labor Standards Act’

Internship Conspiracist: Workin’ for Free

The one mistake you will most certainly make as an event planner is capitalizing on the work of unpaid interns. Go for it! You’re pinching pennies, right? No one is stopping you, right? You’re giving them valuable experience and they should have to work hard for it, right?

Ummm. Maybe. Yeah. Probably.

So, don’t be mad at me… but you’re kinda wrong.

If you think about it, unpaid interns are modern-day slave labor. If you’ve ever been an intern, you know that interns are forced to do grunt work with a smile. They spend days building their resume with free labor and nights working retail or food service jobs trying to make enough money to survive. What’s worse is if the internship is a college requirement, the students are literally paying to work for you.

Without “valuable” internship experience, very few companies will hire an applicant. However, those who cannot afford to work for free will lose that opportunity of experience to those who can. Some websites are even looking for unpaid interns whose stories could support a possible change in law. And lately, my view has been quite similar to theirs.

Employers’ failure to compensate interns for their work, and the prevalence of the practice nationwide, curtails opportunities for employment, fosters class divisions between those who can afford to work for no wage and those who cannot, and indirectly contributes to rising unemployment.

Several public relations professionals who I’ve spoken with gave me this piece of advice: never work for free.

So, gather volunteers! Give community service hours! But from the prospective of someone who is dying to show what she can do, but cannot afford to do it for free, avoid “employing” unpaid interns.

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