Social Media and PR

Haley J. Higgs

Guest Blogger April 18, 2010

Filed under: TOW — hhiggs87 @ 8:03 pm

Once again, in my Social Media and PR class, we were asked to have a guest writer featured on our blog. So, the following blog post was written by James Kicklighter. I hope you enjoy!

Unpaid Internships and Ethics

Written by: James Kicklighter

PROpenMic posted an interesting blog on the emerging controversy regarding unpaid internships, gracing The New York Times and TIME Magazine. Of course, anyone who is a college student knows that there are many internships that are not paid, and finding one that is proves to be quite difficult.

According to The New York Times article:

“The Labor Department says it is cracking down on firms that fail to pay interns properly and expanding efforts to educate companies, colleges and students on the law regarding internships.

“If you’re a for-profit employer or you want to pursue an internship with a for-profit employer, there aren’t going to be many circumstances where you can have an internship and not be paid and still be in compliance with the law,” said Nancy J. Leppink, the acting director of the department’s wage and hour division.

Ms. Leppink said many employers failed to pay even though their internships did not comply with the six federal legal criteria that must be satisfied for internships to be unpaid.”

These criteria are:

  1. The training, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to that which would be given in a vocational school;
  2. The training is for the benefit of the trainees or students;
  3. The trainees or students do not displace regular employees, but work under close supervision;
  4. The employer that provides the training receives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees or students and, on occasion, his operations may even be impeded;
  5. The trainees or students are not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period; and
  6. The employer and the trainees or students understand that the trainees or students are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.

Just reading those regulations, I can think of many friends who have worked tirelessly for organizations who do not follow these guidelines.

Now, I can understand the challenges of hiring in a bad economy, but this doesn’t mean that individuals, companies, or organizations should take advantage of gullible, young college students looking to build their resume or portfolio.

They have bills to pay too, and it’s about time that we start looking into this matter.

Certainly, this could be a difficult Public Relations challenge for any organization who has unpaid interns. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t change their operations. Cutting available internship positions to pay interns might be a viable solution. Sure, it doesn’t present as much opportunity, but it also makes students work harder to get the spot.

I’ve always found a little competition makes people work harder; at least, that motivates me.

All of that said, what do you think?


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