Sunday, May 06, 2012

NYTimes covers internship abuse by employers (especially in Hollywood)


Steven Greenhouse has a front page story in the New York Times this morning, “Jobs Few, Grads Flock to Unpaid Internships,” link here. I had reviewed Ross Perlin’s book on the issue June 8, 2011 on the Books blog.

Employers are not allowed to use unpaid help for jobs of immediate business importance, and the work must fit into some kind of educational objective, since colleges sometimes give credits for internships. Nevertheless, in a weak market with the practical difficulties of enforcement from the EEOC, abuses are rampant.

Eric Glatt has sued Fox Searchlight Pictures over the work he did for “Black Swan” (Movie blog Dec. 3, 2010).

The article also tells the story of Joyce Lee, who did six unpaid internships in Hollywood, including one for Scott Rudin.

I have recently began to think about what it would mean if I hire help even for a relatively primitive documentary.  I will certainly follow accepted means of compensation (which are somewhat mediated by unions and guilds like SAG, so I’m surprised to see Hollywood getting away with these internships).
In information technology, it used to be common for companies to hire “rookie programmers” from “programming schools” in the mainframe area to do repetitive tasks, such as “librarian” entry work.  I’ve even seen resumes with cover letters from people willing to work as “volunteers” for a while in mainframe IT.

Here’s a British video on whether internships are fair. Does unpaid work benefit young people? Here’s someone interning for paid work as a journalist!


Back around 1989 or so, a headhunter once told me about mainframe sweatshops, "You're paying them to work there!"

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