Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Some say unpaid internships are important learning experiences
There has been a lot written recently that employers abuse interns, not paying them for real work. But Steve Cohen, with an article in the Wall Street Journal January 8, has a piece, “Minimum Wage for Interns? It misses the point. Yes. I did unpaid grunt work. But guess what. It was an invaluable experience.” The link is here.
Cohen talks about the settlement of a class action suit brought against Charlie Rose for his production company. He takes issue with the simple argument that interns displace low-paid workers, because it provides practical experience necessary for people to have careers in an industry.
It’s interesting that Cohen reports interning at a magazine, in a time when conventional publishing is declining, and being replaced by new online models. (Look at Newsweek.)
He says that his function was not to “add value” when he photocopied as an intern (I did a lot of that back in the 1980s just to get ready for walkthroughs). It was to learn about the “real world.”
It used to be common for mainframe programming schools to send prospective employees to clients for a few weeks for internships. I'm not sure if they were paid, or how much.