Pay The Intern!

by John on November 15, 2010

In my previous life I was a corporate recruiter advocating for the candidates and for the company. I found that if I could strike a balance between what we offered the candidates and what they expected to earn, it was a good deal. Everyone felt good, lives were changed, problems were solved, and I did my job.

Today, working at the university, it’s a completely different story. See, I got a call on Friday from a rather large company, they wanted an intern and they wanted the intern for free.

I politely asked them why? The response was nothing short of comical. “What do you mean why” the voice on the other end of the phone said somewhat incredulously? “We’ve always done it this way, and quite frankly, we’re not going to pay them”.

So I politely launched into my canned “I’m not your HR department or your legal counsel speech” and pointed out to them that the DOL is pretty specific on what constitutes what should be paid.

See the students at my university have to do something that other students don’t normally do at other schools, they need to fight. They fight to get a parking spot, fight to get into the class, compete with the others to get good grades and once they’re out, they need to fight with other graduates to get a job here in the South Florida market. Miami is still running in the double digits of unemployment (13.1%) and well, you get the point… it’s a tough market out there.

So why make the intern pay for the privilege of working there?

I truly do get why there are unpaid internships out there; while my own personal philosophy is different I still think it’s a valid question. Wouldn’t it make sense for an organization to pay something, anything, even if it’s minimum wage?

In the end, I don’t know if the client fully understood the implications, or if they even cared, but we’ll see. Just once I’d like to email the link to Harlan Ellison’s rant. Maybe that’ll increase their understanding.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

akaBruno November 15, 2010 at 7:50 am

Good stuff, john. Just as important is that the intern is doing meaningful work, and is not just a glorified filer. Too often, companies bring in interns to do menial or busy work, instead of having students develop skills and experience that would serve them as they build a career.

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: