• Amy Laskowski

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    Amy Laskowski

    Amy Laskowski graduated from Syracuse University in 2007 with a degree in English, and earned a master’s in journalism at the College of Communication in 2015. She helps edit the work of BU Today’s interns and is always hunting for interesting, quirky stories around BU. Profile

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There are 15 comments on Unpaid Interns and the Law

  1. What about time? If you’re doing an unpaid internship, is there a max number of hours a week/ day you should be working? Especially if it’s during the school year, when you need to focus on classes and work?

  2. And so instead of paying dues – as everyone does & did in the past – these 3 Georgetown activist – remember Fluke? – have guaranteed that employers will no longer have internships that have always paid off in the end through experience & resume building. Way to go (please note this is sarcasm). Destructive as is everything the liberal agenda – and make no mistake this is what it is – touches.

    1. So instead of letting employers allegedly continue to break existing laws, some interns stepped up to call out those employers’ allegedly illegal practices.

      The liberal agenda at work, everyone.

  3. I’m actually working 70-90 hours per week unpaid…I’m doing all the work a salaried analyst would be doing…it’s miserable, and my father only has a few years left to live…and I want to spend more time with him…but if I don’t do this internship I’ll be screwed and I won’t be able to get a salaried job in this industry and then I won’t make enough to be able to support my family when my dad passes…I don’t know what to do…

    1. I am so sorry to hear that. If you have a good relationship with a supervisor, honestly discuss your situation with him or her. Try to take a long leave or something similar. Otherwise, quit; another job will come along (you might work in another industry for a short time but it’ll work out), it is important for you to spend time with your dad now!

      If possible, I hope your dad makes a recovery soon.

  4. As someone who will be interning at Conde Nast next summer, I find it really annoying that people are suing them for “unpaid wages”. I applied for this internship thinking it was completely unpaid and was 100% ok with that. Working for a fashion magazine is my dream and I am willing to work hard for that dream no matter what it takes. Hard work pays off in the long run. I just find it annoying people are so greedy these days. Build your resume and work hard, the money will come later.

    1. That’s great and all, and on principle I don’t mind working for free either to achieve my dreams. But then there’s the whole thing about paying my own bills because my parents don’t support me….

  5. Let’s not lose sight of the big picture. There have been unpaid internships forever and some provide great training and career paths.

    THE POINT is that the number of unpaid internships has been skyrocketing, so something new is going on. IMO that new thing is simply corporate cost cutting. The #1 priority is to cut labor costs. They’ve offshored, outsourced, cut wages and benefits, busted unions and now….they realized they could get the kids to work for free! Even better than shipping the jobs to Bangladesh.

    In short: unpaid internships are skyrocketing because they are replacing real entry-level jobs. Why pay if you don’t have to? Bad for America.

    1. Exactly right, Tom. The real victims here are people trying to get paid jobs who are being replaced by a large widely-available unpaid labor force. Of course most of the same people who are getting these unpaid internships are trying to get the paying jobs, so in a way they’re displacing themselves.

  6. I probably have 2 years of work experience in internships that was unpaid. And unfortunately many places don’t count that unpaid work as “work experience.” I have had great internships but I have also had miserable ones (working as an unpaid full-time office manager for a non-profit, coming in on weekends, getting screamed at by my solipsistic boss). People forget that “unpaid” means the intern is out money: you’ve still got to cover your transportation costs, lunch, and potentially childcare. And the school credit thing irks me. I love my grad program but I hate having to pay my school for the privilege of working somewhere else for free.

  7. This article was of great interest to me because of the use of unpaid interns in social work agencies which generates thousands of hours of intervention to clients. In our field, paying interns has been considered unethical and a conflict of interest. However, paying interns could help offset the costs of tuition and other fees. It is an issue which we need to continue to explore in spite of some of the obvious dilemmas. BUSSW Dean Emerita, Wilma Peebles-Wilkins

  8. I found this to be the most important take away from the article : “The one that is the most important is that the work must be done mainly to benefit the intern, not for the benefit of the employer. The work should also not displace regular employees or take the place of their work”.

    I have worked both paid an unpaid internships in my movement up the corporate ladder in my industry. I am still a relatively recent college grad (less than 5 years), and have actually begun the task of hiring my OWN intern in the last few weeks. We plan to hire my intern to work closely with me and to work on tasks that are otherwise time consuming for me. All valuable, and none involving fetching coffee or making copies. I think that is the important take away here. That the tasks performed should be of VALUE if an intern is not being paid. (Ours is paid, and quite handsomely I might add). The moment tasks begin to replace tasks done by a paid employee at the hands of an unpaid intern is when it truly becomes a problem. I believe that there is a fine line between meaningful work and employee exploitation.

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