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NYT Points at Internship Issue

April 3, 2011

The NYT recently ran a report on unpaid internships, pointing out that many colleges and companies may not be helping students out when setting them up to work for free. It’s a well written and investigative look into internships that points out that what we’ve come to expect may well be exploitation.

The report looks at the rules by which organizations may offer unpaid internships and points to examples that seem to be exploiting the system. For employers, it’s free labor. For colleges, it’s cheap credits. For students, it can be expensive and unfair. They point out that an unpaid internship that isn’t being compensated for credit may be a violation of labor law, and yet many colleges do not require a student to receive school credits for internships.

The article ends with how they think colleges should address the issue, but the report ignores the students who may desire to work outside fo the system. At Ithaca College it is easy to find and apply for an internship without ever contacting career services and alerting them to it, paid or unpaid. If the government does investigate labor standards for college internships, what will happen to these students? And will work experience dry up if companies must find a way to compensate their student workers?

On a different note, I appreciate the article addressing their own policies, with both paid and unpaid internships offered at the Times. It’s good to see the Times trying to maintain a level of transparency about their own practices, and I applaud them for it.

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