There have been some recent lawsuits as well as other noted incidents with regards to this idea of "internships" in lieu of paid work as a means of gaining experience, training and of course contacts in which to build professional relationships that will ostensibly lead to a paid job. Nothing says paying that student debt down than working for nothing in exchange for a contact on a Rolodex and a listing on a resume. As for the food, rent part isn't that what parents are for. Or as I call it just another example of how the elite can afford to find the progeny of their peers to ultimately audition for jobs they would get regardless.
The below op ed piece discusses this issue. But there was the Black Swan suit, then the recent brouhaha about Sheryl "Lean In" Sandberg's posting on Facebook for unpaid interns or the current lawsuits surrounding new media - Gawker, Nick Denton's fiefdom of faux superiority or old media - Conde Nast. the domain of the Devil wearing Prada and of course Warner Music Group, former home of the Material Girl. Fame attracts the fame seeking and of course the moth to the flame and the burn that results.
The Gen XYME generation are so in debt, so heavily invested and so utterly incapable of having a thought of their own they are sure that this type of volunteer work is the entry to riches. One only has to look at the casualties and the lack of success stories that one never hears should be sufficient enough to realize it is a load of bullshit. But this generation is sure they are special, different and entitled to be treated as such that this is not the rule but they are the exception. I finally blocked my ability to surf the Gawker sites, I don't read any Conde Nast and as for Warner, well I like my music free like they like their workers.
Working for Nothing
By JULIET LAPIDOS
Published: August 24, 2013
Such experiences are common. Ross Perlin, the author of “Intern Nation,” estimated in 2011 that between one and two million people participate in internships each year in the United States, and that as many as half of internships are unpaid or paid below the minimum wage.
Employers see nothing wrong with soliciting free labor on public forums. This month, a high-level editor at Lean In, the foundation Sheryl Sandberg started to help women “pursue their ambitions,” tried using Facebook to find a “part-time, unpaid” intern “with editorial and social chops” as well as “Web skills.” After an uproar — how could Lean In, of all places, lean on interns? — the foundation president promised to set up a more formal internship program, with compensation.
Unpaid internships are, at best, ethically iffy. A necessary precursor to jobs in certain fields, they act as both a gateway and a barrier to entry. Young people believe they have no choice. Anyone unable to forgo pay risks being shut out.
Legally, they’re murky. The Labor Department holds that unpaid internships in the nonprofit sector are “generally permissible,” meaning my stint at The Paris Review, a nonprofit, was probably legitimate. A similar arrangement at a moneymaking outfit wouldn’t pass the department’s six-point test, which says that interns cannot displace regular employees; that the experience must be “for the benefit of the intern”; and that the employer cannot derive an “immediate advantage” from the intern’s activities.
Though the rules are stringent enough, the Labor Department does little to enforce them. If an intern registers a complaint, the Wage and Hour Division follows up. But the division is not especially proactive. It does not, for example, routinely monitor job boards for suspicious ads. Nor have lawmakers on Capitol Hill tried to draw attention to the culture of unpaid internships, with task forces or hearings or education campaigns.
In the absence of aggressive government oversight, pushback has come through the legal system. A Federal District Court judge in Manhattan ruled in June that Fox Searchlight Pictures violated minimum wage laws by not paying production interns. The plaintiffs, who worked on the film “Black Swan,” said they did basic chores like answering phones and, yes, taking out the trash — which should have been done by actual employees. Unpaid interns have filed at least three lawsuits since that victory, against Condé Nast, the Warner Music Group and Gawker Media.
The threat of lawsuits may, over time, dissuade companies from misclassifying employees. But proper enforcement of labor law shouldn’t depend on exploited interns’ willingness to suffer through courtroom ordeals.