Monday, March 04, 2013

Abuse of interns in some industries seems real; even volunteerism requires real focus

On Sunday, the New York Times “Fashion & Style” section presented another long report, by Teddy Wayne, slamming the practice of not just using interns but badly overworking them, particularly in media or show business and fashion industries, link here ("The No-Limits Job").
The story reports interns working 18 hour days and being on-call all the time, and fired for missing calls on weekends or nights after going home. 

And young college graduates are finding that they have to take several internships to get into the running for real employment, and wind up moving back home with mommy and daddy.

Internships make sense for academic credit.  Computer programming schools place students at companies for a couple months for internships (at USLICO, which I have written about), they were used in the early 90s). But not for years. 

In fact, I recall reading a cover letter in the early 90s (the first Bush recession) where someone offered tp work “as a volunteer” for a while.

The NYT article discusses Ross Perlin (I didn’t realize he is only 29 now), and his book “Intern Nation” (reviewed on Books Blog, June 8, 2011). 

Below, Columbus Internships examines, “Do we have to pay an intern?” (2011), (with respect to the Fair Labor Standards Act)

The problems in interning carry over into volunteer work, where there sometimes is a self-serving bureaucracy.  I have been criticized, in a couple of instances where I volunteered briefly, with not knowing what was really going on.  How would I?  One case involved the Whitman Walker Clinic around 1990 (actually there were two little incidents), and then later when I was maintaining a mailing list database in dBase4 on my laptop for a gay activities group in 1994.   To make volunteering effective, you really need to make a time and focus commitment, it seems.  

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