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Calling BS On Unpaid Internships 427

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-me-a-coffee dept.
theodp writes "Getting an intern is so hot right now,' writes Stewart Curry. 'It's also bull**** 99% of the time.' IrishStu also provides his list of Interning's Big Lies: 1. 'You'll get training.' 2. 'We might hire you after the internship.' 3. 'You get to work with an awesome team.' 4. 'It will look great on your CV.' 5. 'You'll make great contacts.' So, who does it really hurt, Stu? 'Here's who it hurts — interns. You have them working for nothing. Here's who it hurts — people who need a wage in order to survive. Here's who it hurts — companies that want to pay people a decent wage for work they do.' Inside Higher Ed also checks in on The Great Intern Debate."
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Calling BS On Unpaid Internships

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  • by Meshach (578918) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @03:43PM (#36643028)
    Has the world gone mad?
    • by iamhassi (659463) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @03:54PM (#36643092) Journal
      Rating:5,Insightful

      Some guy bitches about being an intern and it's on the front of /.? WTF? Slow weekend because it's 4th of July weekend in the US? What's next "Calling BS on McD's minimum wage"?

      If you don't want to be a unpaid intern... DON'T BE. Very simple solution. People don't choose to be unpaid interns, they HAVE to be because they have zero experience and can't get a paying job. Companies "hiring" unpaid interns choose that route because they've been burned by shitty no-experience-having employees in the past and want to test the waters, but if you're there more than a week and still not getting paid YOU ARE STUPID for staying.
      • by jhoegl (638955) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @04:04PM (#36643168)
        I agree. I had to have an internship for my coursework. I ended up at some place that makes and sells bibles...
        Long story short, the guy that was there didnt talk to me for 2 days. I literally just sat there. THe last day I was there I came in and he said he had to leave. I had no orders or information on what to do. So I left him a note stating that if he has no work, dont waste my time.
        I spoke with the college about the issue and I got another internship, a better one.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by iamhassi (659463)
          "I had to have an internship for my coursework."

          Unpaid internships are also mandatory in the medical field. Every potential nurse and doctor works hundreds of hours in hospitals before they're allowed to graduate. I only wish they did this for engineers and scientists, I would have loved the break from the books to get my hands dirty.

          All of the examples in the blog are for graphic design internships, which is completely understandable why companies would choose interns for graphic design because unl
          • by superwiz (655733)
            If your engineering school doesn't have labs, facilities and such to actually accommodate engineering lab work, your degree isn't worth the paper it's printed on. I really mean it, by the way. Sorry if it's overly harsh. But there ARE plenty of good engineering schools in the US. They DO have labs in which engineering students get to build stuff. If you are not graduating from one of those, chances of you actually becoming an engineer after school are miniscule.
            • by kramulous (977841)

              I am not an engineer.

              What if the course is 100% simulation based? What if you spend the time creating CAD models (or whatever the term is), setting the loads and atmospheric conditions (etc) and then hitting it with various software packages (perhaps even own code for the really good ones) and solving in silica?

              Just throwing a modernising question at you, that's all. Still useless?

              • by Hylandr (813770) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @06:01PM (#36643772) Homepage

                Says the captain to the co pilot, as he pulls the giant airliner into the sky: "Oh my god this is great! It's just like the simulations except ... Oh crap, what was that ..."

                - Dan.

              • by superwiz (655733) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @06:58PM (#36644010) Journal

                If you study how to create physical things (circuits, engines, airplanes, cars, bridges, chemical refineries, etc.) and you never build one of industrial quality of at least 10-15 year ago, you wasted your time. Computers and computer simulations are tools. Knowing how to use tools is not the same as engineering.

                Anything so advanced that it has NEVER been done by an engineer before is not really an engineering endeavor. It falls under applied sciences. Yes, I know that's a tautology. Unfortunately, that's true of anything which describes a middle stage of an iterative process. I suppose a more exact wording of it would be that something which has never been done by an engineer transitions from applied science to engineering only through an effort of an experienced engineer working with an applied scientist. Expecting that a novice engineer can bring about such a transition is naive.

                Part of the work of an engineer is dealing with unpredictabilities which make their way into live systems. Emulators don't do that (not in the same way that real life does anyway). You wouldn't expect someone who studies all the nuances of a foreign language, but never practices it, to be a good translator. You shouldn't expect any different from an engineer. And someone who practiced in front of a computer wouldn't be a good translator, either (although he might be in a better position to start practicing with live speakers).

              • by Plekto (1018050)

                Simulations are crap.

                To be honest, it matters more if you can run a CNC machine and operate machinery to *make* what you design than stuff you learn in a textbook or do on a computer. There are "engineers" and then there are people who can actually build and design things. One will always be shortchanged and out-done by cheap overseas labor and the other will always find a job doing something.

          • by thesandtiger (819476) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @06:12PM (#36643824)

            They actually do this for scientists, essentially. There are, in most scientific fields, very few spots for grad students compared to the number of people who want to go to grad school. Consequently, one big way to differentiate yourself from the pack is to have multiple internships during your undergrad.

            When I was doing my undergrad I had 4 internships of 1 year each at 4 different labs. Each internship gave me a total of 6 credit hours for the year (out of 30 credits taken total for the year) but the cost of those credit hours was refunded. I also wound up getting a full scholarship after my first year because I was recommended for it by my internship professor. By the time I finished undergrad I was on half a dozen published papers, had done over a dozen presentations & posters, and had some very, very good connections and references.

            Not only that, but I learned a STAGGERING amount about how research in my field (social psychology/public health) is done and how it could be much improved. When I applied to grad schools I got into every single program I applied for except for one - most people in my undergrad class were rejected by all but one of their schools.

            I didn't have to pay for grad school, and as a career changer it got me off to a running start.

            Internships can be FANTASTIC as long as you really make the most of them and don't behave like a doormat.

          • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @07:00PM (#36644020) Homepage

            Unpaid internships are also mandatory in the medical field. Every potential nurse and doctor works hundreds of hours in hospitals before they're allowed to graduate. I only wish they did this for engineers and scientists, I would have loved the break from the books to get my hands dirty.

            Not exactly. At least in the US, 'internship' is the first year after medical school. It's more of a post doctoral position (you have your MD) than an internship in the fashion that is being used in TFA. And, at least in the US, you get paid. Not much, but you get paid. Nurses in general do not have a similar situation. STUDENT nurses and medical STUDENTS work hundreds of hours in hospitals without pay but that's somewhat different.

            Today's Slashdot Pedantry brought to you by the makers of some nasty drug that you probably don't need.

          • by Ruie (30480)

            I only wish they did this for engineers and scientists, I would have loved the break from the books to get my hands dirty.

            They do [nsf.gov].

          • by CastrTroy (595695) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @09:23PM (#36644498) Homepage
            My university had a co-operative education program. After second year we would do 1 term of school followed by a term of work and continue for this through the summer. Every single co-op position was paid. I'm in Canada, so maybe things are different here. I've heard about this unpaid internship thing in the US, and it is BS. The students are providing valuable work for the companies they are working for. They should be paid for it. How do they get around minimum wage laws if people are basically working for free? Sure we didn't get paid as much as the people working there full time, but we got pretty good wages.
      • by unity100 (970058) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @04:42PM (#36643420) Homepage Journal
        "If you don't want to be a unpaid intern... DON'T BE. Very simple solution." proposition is akin to :

        "If you dont want to buy from the 4 mega megacorporations monopolizing cleaning products, DONT."

        Or

        "If you dont want to get a plan from isps that do not violate network neutrality and tamper with your connection, DONT"

        In an environment where some kind of practice is allowed to the extent that it becomes an 'industry standard practice', you cannot choose another option.

        In civilized world (doesnt include america) corporations HAVE to pay interns at least minimum wage. Kids too. noone can have others work for him, and get out of it without paying for it. that is the way how it should have been, and it is the way how it is in civilized countries. apparently, it is again not as such, in usa.

        why it isnt ? because you people allow, then rationalize and justify malpractice with the idiotic assumption that there will always be 'another choice' - let me wake you up to a fact - when you allow malpractice to become the norm, there is NO other choice.
        • by Calos (2281322)

          I guess it depends on the field. When I was in school, I specifically looked for a school with a mandatory coop program. To count for school, it was required to be paid, and for us to do real work. Graduated with 1.5-2 years paid experience (and not paid peanuts, myself and most friends were making $17.5/hr and up).

          Maybe you should place the value of your internship on the level that your employer does. If they don't want to pay, you're not going to be doing anything useful.

        • by mysidia (191772) *

          In civilized world (doesnt include america) corporations HAVE to pay interns at least minimum wage.

          In the US, corporations do HAVE to pay interns at least minimum wage; there is one special exception that applies to internships solely for personal educational/training purposes of the student, and there are strict standards to be met for that exception to apply, see US Department of Labor Fact Sheet 71 [dol.gov]:

          The Test For Unpaid Interns There are some circumstances under which individuals who participate in

      • by OldHawk777 (19923) *

        "If you don't want to be a unpaid intern... DON'T BE."

        Very true, but when someone fraudulently presents non-financial benefits as payment for services provided..., it is theft of property. Internships without hiring and reasonable expectation of upward-mobility is IMO fraudulent theft of payment. This is another reminder of Madoff, recurring economic-bubbles, environmental oil dumps, fat-pill... BIG-&-Small scams, who gets hurt and defrauded is never the problem of governance/law in the USA, EU, RU...

    • Maybe because internships are one of the biggest BS things going, but most of the people involved don't want to admit it because it goes against their own interests. Schools won't admit it, companies that use them won't admit it, and the students won't call BS because they won't graduate if they do ... so the cycle continues.

      Interns are asked to pirate software [trolltalk.com], defraud job training programs [trolltalk.com], file off GPL copyrights [trolltalk.com], help defraud customers [trolltalk.com], and all sorts of crap [trolltalk.com]

      Internships benefit the teachers, the colleges, and the politicians who say "we're doing something to help train people". It's all BS.

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        Hey Barb, I think you really hit the nail on the head about the "give the possibly illegal and bullshit jobs to the intern" kind of shit. As a guy that has actually had to walk in and clean up more than a few messes in my time I can tell you I've seen shops get connected with schools and then use the interns to install hot everything from Windows on up, knowing the unpaid kid can get the blame. hell I was once even offered a paid internship with this company and my interview went something like this...

        Boss-

    • by vadim_t (324782)

      Why not?

      If some random guy came up with something insightful to say, why shouldn't it be? Would the same thought be more insightful of it was on Joel on Software, or whoever else is popular these days?

    • by pinkeen (1804300)
      Well, I don't see your point. If the topic is valid and the blog post is interesting then what's wrong. Why dismiss something just because 'random guy' wrote it?

      (Disclaimer: I'm not talking about this posting in particular)
    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      Probably for the same reason that "random guys" get shit posted to slashdot all the time?

      Historically, most of the cool shit on slashdot, as well as the not-cool-but-socially-pertinent stuff, has been 'small fry' stuff. It's why the so-called Slashdot Effect is pertinent in the first place. If something isn't relatively obscure, then it really doesn't belong on a site that's "news for nerds" does it?

      Would you rather have nothing but John Dvorak and pcmag.com type posts, like every other link aggregator out

  • by Anonymous Coward

    IRS rules require that an internship be primarily for the education of the intern. So, like Microsoft and contractors you are risking really big problems if you do not comply, including fines and back pay.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 02, 2011 @04:02PM (#36643146)
      Microsoft pays their interns, and pays them around 80% of a full time employee salary, although that depends on the length of the internship, a summer internship pays less. They also provide housing for some and other perks [nwsource.com].
    • IRS rules require that an internship be primarily for the education of the intern. So, like Microsoft and contractors you are risking really big problems if you do not comply, including fines and back pay.

      It's one or the other. And if you disagree you could find that internship filled with an immigrant rather than a self righteous self important self involved American.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I interned for three straight summers for a company, was paid very well (started at $13/hr my first summer, ended at $18/hr my last summer), had school covered my last two years with the understanding that I'd come back after I graduated, and had a job lined up before I left to go back to school after my last summer. I've worked for them for 10+ years now since I graduated and still don't see any reason to go anywhere else. I worked on stuff that was interesting to me at the time with good people, in an o

  • Don't do it (Score:5, Informative)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @03:49PM (#36643056) Journal
    I can't speak for the medical, financial, or law industries, but if you get offered an unpaid internship in the computer industry, laugh that offer out the door. There are tons of internships in the computer industry that pay real money, so don't work for some company that is trying to rip you off. They will only rip you off more and more, then dump you.
    • Re:Don't do it (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp@NOsPam.Gmail.com> on Saturday July 02, 2011 @04:19PM (#36643248) Homepage Journal

      While my field is IT, I work in the commercial aviation sector. We get interns all the time from local colleges, and all of them have been placed in either airport or airline jobs. In my sector at least, interning seems to pay off. We got lots aviation management majors and airlines seems especially quick to snatch them up.

      It may well be the case that in a few fields, interning is a bad idea and it's just free labor with no real reward. But in other professions, not only does it provide real world experience that you don't get in a classroom, it seems to open doors to real jobs.

      • Please note, I didn't say, "avoid internships," internships are really good, you can learn a lot. Whatever you do, don't go for an UNPAID internship. It's a waste of time, because you can find internships that teach you and give you connections, except they pay you money as well.
    • by fermion (181285)
      I would agree with that for all industries, with qualifiers.'

      I graduated college during a time when, like now, the number of jobs for college graduates were few and far between. If you have computer skills you probably had a good job, but there were a lot of people graduating with those skills. That said the people who had jobs were those that were able to gain real experience prior to graduating. Some of those, like me, were able to get a paying job. Others had intern. Of course the paying jobs were

      • I think the industry that most commonly employs unpaid interns is the financial industry, and I guess that makes sense. You're basically going into the business of ripping people off, so it is understandable you will get ripped off too in the beginning. Maybe you will be one of the lucky ones......
        • The industries that most commonly employ unpaid interns are television/film and politics. Both of which have a very limited supply of jobs, are structured that there's no way to get in unless you know the right person, and attract hordes of people who are convinced they'll be rich and famous someday and willing to do pretty much ANYTHING to get their chance.

          Finance has a similar dynamic, but not nearly as bad as those two.

      • Yeah... I think you're basically correct. I'm also one of those who decided not to finish college, because I had work opportunities in I.T. available to me without needing to finish first.

        The first job I took was essentially an unpaid internship, because I had agreed to help a guy I met at a party get his small computer store off the ground. We didn't really discuss pay at that point. We simply agreed it was a "great business idea" and he was the one who already got the money together for the physical s

  • by sethstorm (512897) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @03:51PM (#36643066) Homepage


    "Getting an intern is so hot right now,' writes Stewart Curry. 'It's also bull**** 99% of the time.' IrishStu also provides his list of Interning's Big Lies: 1. 'You'll get training.' 2. 'We might hire you after the internship.' 3. 'You get to work with an awesome team.' 4. 'It will look great on your CV.' 5. 'You'll make great contacts.' So, who does it really hurt, Stu? 'Here's who it hurts â" interns. You have them working for nothing. Here's who it hurts â" people who need a wage in order to survive. Here's who it hurts â" companies that want to pay people a decent wage for work they do.' Inside Higher Ed also checks in on The Great Intern Debate."

    In short, it encourages asshattery on the benalf of business. They can do whatever they want, and have it amount to de facto indentured servitude. Never mind that it limits the set of people to those who have outside income.

    To handle that and associated problems:
    1) Start making temporary work more expensive by making benefit/liability requirements multiply
    2) Allow people to bypass requirements after UI runs out, or immediately if ineligible for unemployment.
    3) End the idea of unpaid internships, since they're the result of unreal requirements being placed for work
    4) Take a page from banks' structuring laws, put them into employment law, and make circumventing regulations nearly impossible.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sco08y (615665)

      They can do whatever they want, and have it amount to de facto indentured servitude.

      Do you think that if you say "de facto" it makes you sound like less of an asshat than "literally"?

      Indentured servitude means you have a massive obligation to that person that you're working off. How is an internship "in fact" indentured servitude?

      To handle that and associated problems...

      When you inflate the cost of employing someone to more than the benefit they can bring to the business, they just won't get a job. See, as a simple example, minimum wage laws and 75% teen unemployment.

      • When you inflate the cost of employing someone to more than the benefit they can bring to the business, they just won't get a job.

        Stop trying to get around the law, and the costs won't skyrocket past that point. Note my point on applying the banking concept of structuring to employment law.

        You give too much room to bad employers to crowd out good ones.

        See, as a simple example, minimum wage laws and 75% teen unemployment.

        Minimum wage is something that kills off business asshattery by making it uneconomic, nothing more.

        Start forcing businesses to hire more through an legislated "sellers' market", and your 75% goes down sharply.

      • by strack (1051390)
        its indentured servitude because when you remove the requirement to pay someone for working for you, actual paid positions for those who are entering employment disappear pretty fucking quickly, leaving little choice left. and as for whinging about the minimum wage, that sounds like the petulant stamping of feet and pouting of rich business owners who cannot keep all the money they make because the government has decided that their workers deserve enough money to, you know, feed and shelter themselves.
  • Tax evasion (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sourcerror (1718066) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @03:51PM (#36643068)

    I've seen cooperative training programs advertised on my university's website. The funny thing it was merely writing user documentation and they didn't care what you were majoring in. It was a paid position (bit over minimal wage). The reason it was good for the company is that they could avoid a lot of taxes, and get fairly intelligent person with knowledge of English and computer skills. (It was in Hungary, Nokia-Siemens Network.)

  • by Sentry23 (447266) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @03:51PM (#36643070) Homepage

    'Here's an intern, since you seem so very busy lately. They need to develop a useful application in 4 months, get to know corporate procedures, learn that an enterprise environment is different then a PC at home (no you can't reboot this server until the maintenance window is up, and you completed a valid change proposal for that utility), and oh yes, they do not get access to passwords so you take of of that, and just show them the ropes in your free time.'

    Interns are mostly a waste of both our time if no adequate resources are allocated, management sees them as cheap labour, and interns come with unrealistic expectations.

    • by trout007 (975317)

      I am a mechanical engineer and i work for the government and I have had quite a few interns. The purpose of an internship as far as I am concerned is an extended interview. Before we hire someone I want to see what is their work ethic and how quickly and independently they learn. Being the government it is difficult to fire someone after they are hired full time. We do pay or interns but can make a good argument why I would not if I had my own company.

      First every intern I have met had decreased the group pr

  • by JonySuede (1908576) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @03:52PM (#36643072) Journal

    Unpaid internship does not look great on a cv; it's looks cheap. The best advice I got from my first job manager was: never work unpaid unless it is for a charity. Working unpaid is showing a lack of respect for your own self. If your work is worth something charge something.

    • by gilesjuk (604902) <giles,jones&zen,co,uk> on Saturday July 02, 2011 @03:59PM (#36643128)

      It's also looks like you aren't good enough to get a job or that your skills and experience have been evaluated and you have been made a pay offer of $0.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Well duh, if the alternatives are job or internship take the job. If the alternatives are internship and unemployment, well that's a bit tougher because that is worse. At least with internship you're still used to work life, delivering 8 hours a day and you might have gotten at least a little more out of it than sitting at home playing xbox all day. Of course, if you take the internship you'll have less time looking for a real job. But with youth unemployment anywhere from 20 to 45%, you are caught between

    • Unpaid internships are a lot better than nothing on the resume.

      It all depends on you spin your experience. If you say that you got an unpaid internship because you have no other opportunities, it looks bad. If you say that it is an interesting company and got the chance to learn something new, then it can be a good thing.

      I started out with an unpaid internship and used that experience to get me a good paying job. I treat my internships like any other job and sell my accomplishments and got a good paying

  • Who's fault is it? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Oceanplexian (807998) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @03:52PM (#36643074) Homepage
    Lot's of tech companies are hiring -- so, it's really the intern's fault for getting conned into working for nothing.
    The problem is that by doing unpaid work, you not only hurt yourself but other people (employees, contractors, etc.)

    Just say no to unpaid internships. Any semi-reputable company can afford to pay you.
  • by e9th (652576) <{e9th} {at} {tupodex.com}> on Saturday July 02, 2011 @03:53PM (#36643080)
    It seems that thanks to the economy, you'll also be competing with older workers [reuters.com] for those internships now.
  • by hsmith (818216) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @03:53PM (#36643082)
    You are blowing serious amounts of money on college, thousands to pay for worthless non-core classes to fill your year - yet you gripe over doing work that is beneficial to your career, gratis?

    Take whatever you can get related to your intended career for your summer internships, they will be insanely beneficial when you get into the real world. You getting an A+ in your algorithms class doesn't matter to me at all as someone doing hiring. You having experience, knowing how the real world works is what matters.

    Internships, paid or unpaid should be stressed more by school programs, their value is much more than anyone comprehends.
    • You are blowing serious amounts of money on college, thousands to pay for worthless non-core classes to fill your year - yet you gripe over doing work that is beneficial to your career, gratis?

      That assumes that it is beneficial to their career. My suspicion is that a lot of people, through desperation, are getting scammed into doing crummy, low-grade jobs.

      Here's the dilemma: if they're doing serious work, then what sort of company do they have experience in that would take such risks for important work (

    • I've got an A* algorithm in my class.

    • You getting an A+ in your algorithms class doesn't matter to me at all as someone doing hiring. You having experience, knowing how the real world works is what matters.

      Why does it have to be either-or? I would not hire a programmer who knows nothing of algorithms any more than I would a 4.0-GPA CS graduate who never learned to write code. Part of "experience in the real world" is learning that using the right algorithms is very important, just as important as the ability to write good code.

    • by theNAM666 (179776) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @05:18PM (#36643610)

      Please mod the above down; // it's just not that interesting, "worthless non-core classes" drivel

      "Intended career?" Are you fucking kidding? This isn't 1950. The average American changes jobs/job categories every 2.6 years in their 20s and 30s. "Intended career" is BS from job placement offices at Unis that are behind the curve. Unless you want to become a physician etc., you need to prepare yourself for work in a variety of fields which are themselves changing, not an "intended career" in a field that won't even exist in five years.

      For that, an internship as a paid slave is worth... exactly how much?

  • by arcite (661011) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @03:56PM (#36643100)
    Someone has to serve the coffee. And make sure they use skim milk!
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @03:56PM (#36643104)

    When I did my unpaid summer internship at Kramerica, I learned a lot! We did some real-world feasibility tests on cutting edge bladder systems for oil tankers.

  • by gremlinuk (454089) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @03:57PM (#36643110) Homepage

    You will sell yourself short, get crappy office tasks, not real training. It doesn't look good on a CV/resume ... if I read unpaid internship, I read 'MUG'.

    There are plenty of proper paid jobs out there, including short term summer jobs.

    Living in a European country, I was totally shocked to discover unpaid internships were showing up over here. Why on earth would I work for free ANYWHERE? Who on earth can actually AFFORD to work for free? Oh, yeah, the rich buggers who probably don't need to work anyway, or for whom Daddy will always be able to find easy, well paid work with one of their chums anyway.

    Unpaid internships is a) exploitative bull-hockey, b) a mug's game.

  • Apprenticeships (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wiggles (30088) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @03:58PM (#36643120)

    Let's be frank.

    IT administration really ought to be considered a blue collar job. You learn a skill (Unix/Windows/Storage/etc), and you ply your trade.

    Unfortunately, there is nowhere in the world to go to learn this stuff. College will teach you CS, programming, or engineering, but not administration. You could go to a for-profit college (like DeVry), but that's not going to be as good as experience in getting you a job. It's next to impossible to get an entry level IT job as a junior admin anymore if all you have is talent and no experience. What we really need to do in order to get new admins into the workforce is train them.

    Internships are only the modern version of apprenticeships that blue collar unions (and trade guilds before them) have been doing for hundreds of years. Sure, you don't get paid squat, but you earn your stripes. You gain experience which companies will recognize when they're looking for a cheap admin.

    • Re:Apprenticeships (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ductonius (705942) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @04:11PM (#36643212) Homepage

      I work in industry, and apprentices get payed in every blue collar job I've had contact with. Not only do they get paid, but get payed above average starting wage for that place in the world. If you're an apprentice that means someone with much more experience recognizes you have talent that's useful and can develop. You get treated like you're worth something, because you are.

      The fact that many interns are unpaid is a tacit admittance that the workers are inherently worthless to the company. Unpaid internships need to be made criminal. They are the systematization and normalization of worker exploitation.

    • by 0xdeadbeef (28836)

      Internships are only the modern version of apprenticeships that blue collar unions

      No they aren't. You have a pretty stupid conception of trade unions.

  • What we really need are proper apprenticeships, where there is an agreement between the employer and apprentice where the former provides training -- along with compensation commensurate with obtained skills and effort, over time -- in return for service. This could replace full-time college studies in many cases, with apprentices taking individual classes that would prove valuable as needed.

  • it's for rich kids (Score:3, Interesting)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [erauqssemitelcric]> on Saturday July 02, 2011 @04:03PM (#36643156) Homepage Journal

    if you have 100 applicants, all mostly equally qualified, and one says "i'll work for free", you hire him or her

    it's a way for the rich to destroy the meritocracy: they have the benefit of not needing money to survive, and they can use this to extend an unfair competitive advantage over equally qualified or even more qualified poorer candidates

    free market fundamentalists need to understand that you need government regulating society to counteract the force of gravity that is money. money attracts more money, and this is a force of injustice that NATURALLY develops. without government controls counteracting this, society inevitably stratifies into classes, with the rich having all the money, and the poor leading miserable lives they can't escape

    it is not possible to believe in a meritocracy and a free market at the same time. the two concepts are mutually exclusive

    it doesn't mean we should be communist societies. it means that pure capitalist societies are just as evil as communist ones

    the answer?:

    balance, in all things: a capitalist society with socialist safety nets. the only society with true justice and maximized happiness and a rich vibrant middle class

    • by guspasho (941623) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @04:54PM (#36643480)

      "free market fundamentalists need to understand that you need government regulating society to counteract the force of gravity that is money. money attracts more money, and this is a force of injustice that NATURALLY develops. without government controls counteracting this, society inevitably stratifies into classes, with the rich having all the money, and the poor leading miserable lives they can't escape"

      The free-market fundamentalists do understand this, but what makes them free market fundamentalists is the belief that whatever the free market does is - by definition - a good thing. And government interference is necessarily a bad thing because it distorts the infallible free market, which is always and necessarily good and cannot be questioned, much like God.

      In effect, they worship Mammon.

      If the free market destroys the meritocracy, then it should be destroyed. If you cannot climb out of poverty then it's because you're morally inferior to the rich who were born with silver spoons in their mouths. If all wealth accumulates in the hands of a few then it's because they worked hard for their wealth and deserve the fruits of their labor. If the middle class is destroyed and 99% of the population ends up in grinding poverty, it's because they are lazy and morally inferior, but to suggest that such a thing can happen is heresy.

      Also, never mind that the free market is itself very flawed and not ever free, or that it's completely immoral - that's heresy as well.

  • Most of the pharmacy internships wont let you do much more than file paperwork, stock shelves, and handle minor bookkeeping tasks. A lowly pharmacy technician gets more out of their regular employment in terms of training than the average pharmacy internship. (Yes, there are exceptions, but they are few.) However, those internship, and practicum hours are required to get the doctorate degree.

    The only useful internships I saw where with places that did review for patients in long term care facilities, with

  • by Ga_101 (755815) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @04:26PM (#36643302)
    Internships are like poison to a meritocracy based society. Unpaid internships doubly so.

    They allow richer parents to use both their money and connections to manoeuvre their children into jobs that have wealth, power or both. This comes at the expense of poorer and middle class children who can not bankroll their children in adulthood or do not move in the right social circles.

    A classic example in my country (UK) was a fund raising event for the Conservative party. Internships at top flight financial and legal firms were auctioned off the party donors to raise funds for the party. No, I did not make this up : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1356469/Cash-internships-Tory-backers-pay-2k-time-buy-children-work-experience.html [dailymail.co.uk] (apologies for linking to the Daily Mail, but credit where it is due, they did break this story).

    These sort of actions entrench wealth and power with those who already have them. An internship via connections or unpaid work is a boot in the face of those who can not ride out life on Daddy's coat-tails.
    • Internships are like poison to a meritocracy based society..... They allow richer parents to use both their money and connections to manoeuvre their children into jobs that have wealth, power or both. This comes at the expense of poorer and middle class children who can not bankroll their children in adulthood or do not move in the right social circles.

      180 degrees the wrong way, speaking from experience. Internships allow talented undergrads the chance to get the contacts that they never made growing up

  • when I was going to school to earn my A&P(2 year tech school) i went on a Co-op where i was paid.

    later when I was working on my Engineering degree(4 year B.S.), I was offered an Intern where i'd work for free for the summer.

    what does this say for the jog market for 4 years of B.S.?

  • by cosm (1072588) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .3msoceht.> on Saturday July 02, 2011 @04:27PM (#36643318)
    When I was in college, I had a shitty job at a restaurant. I volunteered at a local software company during my off-hours to get resume experience, ~15 hrs a week. After about 3 months I had to quit because school and work became too intensive. About a month after leaving the unpaid internship (which I landed by just walking in the front door cold turkey and asking if they had anything open), they called be back and asked if I would come code for them (since I already knew the company way and the code base. It got me experience, out of a job I really despised, and now I could not be happier. YMMV. Of course there are places that will step on you, but there is merit to working for free. It shows that you are willing to commit to something out of passion and drive to learn the material and be a contributor, and that your not just in it for the money. Yes I know people are starving rah rah and shame on me for working for free, but common, this blog just comes on a little to strong. Do what you have to do to get a job, and if you feel like you are getting the shaft at your internship, SHOP AROUND. There is no end all be all and absolutes do not exist; I don't think you can paint all unpaid internships in such a negative light.
  • "companies that want to pay people a decent wage for work they do"

    HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!

    (breathes in)

    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!

  • My wife got a gig as an engineering internship her senior year of college - we graduated on the same day and she had a guaranteed job making about $3000 more than I did when I got my first engineering job out of college 2 months later - wish I had interned !!!

  • 1. 'You'll get training.'
    well, out intern is getting a lot of training, both in a highly specialized biotech skill useful in about 4 labs in the US, in general biotech lab stuff, and in seeing how a startup actuallyworks
    2. 'We might hire you after the internship.' we have already done this (score is 1 out of 1) our current intern would ccertainly be offered a job if she wasn't a sophomore
    3. 'You get to work with an awesome team.'(modesty forbids)
    4. 'It will look great on your CV.' modesty aside, I and
  • That is what it simply is. deceiving youngsters to work for free with promises not guaranteed. its as if hiring someone, and saying 'i may or may not give you your paycheck'. exceptions do not make a rule.

    it should be banned and anyone who is doing that should be heavily prosecuted.
  • ...though barely. I made minimum wage, and was promised work after should I work hard enough. Well, not only did it involve not a single line of code, but it was HS diploma monkey work following a checklist that was printed out to make sure the software worked. So I got zero experience in automation testing or practice in coding it. At the end of the internship, despite working hard for them (including nearly full time with Saturday mornings that did affect my grades by a letter grade), I was told there was

  • Graduate students who do real research should be paid much, much more than they are. It exploits them, and it make it very difficult for MS level research engineers to make a living, because they're competing against almost free labor.

  • by melted (227442) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @05:00PM (#36643520) Homepage

    I'm hosting an intern this summer, and let me tell you, even though he's paid (and paid very well), he's causing a net productivity LOSS to the company, because he can't do much by himself (due to inexperience and laziness), so I have to handhold him through every single little thing instead of doing my own work. On the positive side, the company won't make a mistake of eventually hiring him when his internship is over because I'll be advising against it. It is only hitting me now how much I undersold myself when I was just out of school. Compared to what you see from most fresh graduates now, I was a demigod of software engineering. Another thing is, I feel much more secure in my job. Someone will have to solve the hard problems, and it sure as heck won't be these fresh grads who can't code their way out of a wet paper bag.

  • Sounds like interns are perfect for spying on companies.
    Just pay them something. How can they refuse when they are so poor and desperate?

  • by xaoslaad (590527) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @06:38PM (#36643930)
    Considering they paid me $8.30 and hour to be a help desk grunt back in 1996 and I learned that I was capable of working well in this industry and steered me towards pursuing it in my college studies. Before the internship I was a freshman in college, with no clue what I wanted to do, looking to work for the summer in their mail room.

    For the record, they did end up hiring me. $38,000 a year salary and I hadn't even completed college. I don't think most college grads make that out the door.


    When they outsourced their help desk they moved me in with their network and system administrators. My salary also got a huge jump; somewhere into the 60-65k range. Today I work for a different company and make even more than that.

    Say what you will, but I am grateful to them, their internship, the crap $8.30 an hour they paid me, and everything I learned on the job. I made of it every single bit that I could and it paid off for me huge.
  • by KingAlanI (1270538) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @06:46PM (#36643956) Homepage Journal

    Definitely wasn't going to take an unpaid internship; it just seems like common sense.
    Even if "useful experience" was applicable (i.e. you don't end up as a copier grunt or something), I'm not going to let a third-party use that as an excuse to screw me out of money.

    All of the co-ops for RIT students seem to be paid.

    My current position actually pays quite well (even accounting for the sky-high apartment rents around here), and the work & work environment seem quite relevant to my field.

  • Open Source? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lije Baley (88936) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @06:55PM (#36643994)

    Yeah, this is *way* different from donating all your time to an open source project in order to get some experience...

  • by Kagetsuki (1620613) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @08:47PM (#36644372)

    1. 'You'll get training.' : I did get training.
    2. 'We might hire you after the internship.' : I was offered a job but ended up taking one somewhere else (I wanted to do something a bit different).
    3. 'You get to work with an awesome team.' : Worked under a semi-famous designer and with a programmer who taught me some very cool tricks.
    4. 'It will look great on your CV.' : It did.
    5. 'You'll make great contacts. : I did.

    I did not get paid, I got the internship as part of my training from my specialty school. It was a lot of fun and I did learn a lot. It was less than 2 months though, perhaps if it had been a year I would have had issues with it. Other people in my class who went to different places did have less than spectacular experiences that maybe didn't do as much for them but most of them didn't have good enough marks to get into better places for internships. I guess it's all dependent on how much you are willing to learn from the experience as well as where you go and for how long.

  • by slasher999 (513533) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @11:28PM (#36644842)

    I call BS on lies 1, 2, 4, and 5. We recently hired someone who had interned for us last year. This person received the training he needed to do the job he's doing now during his internship actually. When he was hired, he joined the same team he interned for. While he was an intern, we certainly didn't load him with with a full or even part time employee's workload, so clearly we didn't cost anyone a wage as there wasn't a position available. Now that this person has joined us full time, his role with his team is far greater than what we asked of him as an intern. So that disputes #1 and #2. As for #4 and #5, both are subjective and can therefore simply be tossed out. My definition and your definition of "great contacts" may differ, but that doesn't make either of us wrong.

  • by JakFrost (139885) on Sunday July 03, 2011 @01:12AM (#36645122)

    Internship Well Paid

    My manager and I working in a top 5 financial investment bank actively interviewed and hired ~5 interns at $14/hour in 2000 from Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ, US for positions on the Windows Server Administration team during the school's summer time break. The internship was fully sponsored and encouraged by the company and paid very well for basically a very light work load 20-30 hours a week with a fully flexible schedule (come as you please). Other departments such as Desktop Support, Network, and Telecom also got candidates for internships but from different schools.

    Interviewing Interns

    We interviewed the students at their university during an open internship session where there were representatives from all the other major corporations there looking for young talent. We would read each candidate's resume, check their chosen course of study, skim the clubs that they were part of, but really focus on their technical hobbies to have them talk to us about their experiences with technical equipment and/or using and fixing their laptop and computer systems. We would ask them open ended questions such as if you had a project to build a powerful workstation computer for a high-up executive what would you need, which components would you choose, how would you build and configure it. Some interns did not have extensive technical or computer experience but we would still give them a chance to show us that they had the interest and ability to learn something new for them, such as building new servers, clusters, and storage systems in the data center then troubleshooting them.

    The interns that showed interest in hardware would become apprentices to one of the Core team members and would focus on new server hardware, cabling, clusters, storage, and rack builds in our data centers and would shadow to learn the procedures then actually perform all of them under supervision.

    The interns that showed interest in the operating system and active directory would work on the Infrastructure team to maintain and deploy new file servers, domain controllers, name servers, etc.

    The interns that showed interest in software would work with the Application Support team members to learn the various business and back-end packages, databases, web servers, etc.

    The interns that would spend a lot of time chatting and talking on their phones would be put in the Rapid Response team and deal with incoming trouble tickets, phone calls, and general issues and would learn proper communication, diagnostic procedures, and how to put their yappers to good use.

    We would then rotate the interns half-way through their internship so that they could learn the work of another team and we would give them a choice where they would want to work. They got about 4-weeks of time in each team and learned the work pretty well.

    The interns would also be given special projects to work on that were ideas that we had for improving our work such as consolidated information web sites and portals, documentation, organization, and other things that required fresh thinking and ideas in a rigid work flow. We listened to their ideas and also used some of the web sites and automation tools that they produced for us so that was a great help.

    Internship Impressions

    The interns all got a pretty good and realistic view of what it is to work as a Windows Server Administrator and do the normal blue-collar work that we do as admins. A few of them expressed interest in working as an admin doing real (often boring) work as administrators and we expressed interest in hiring them for our department, desktop, or network departments after they graduate. A handful did get hired in various departments.

    Many interns did not have the knack nor the interest for server administration and had dreams of higher goals for their life and some were honest enough to tell us this at the end of their internships. I hope that their experience showed them what real

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