Since my last post, I have been doing a little research, and it turns out that this internship, and in fact a great deal of unpaid internships out there, may not be legal.

The most concise and reader-friendly site I found on the issue was this Labor and Employment Law Blog which outlines the 6 criteria that an employer MUST meet in order to legally offer an unpaid internship:

  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 trainee;
  3. The trainees do not displace regular employees, but work under close observation;
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees and on occasion the employer’s operations may actually be impeded;
  5. The trainees are not necessarily entitled to a job at the completion of the training period; and
  6. The employer and the trainee understand that the trainees are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.

The actual legal documents outlining the above can be found somewhere in here, but they are definitely NOT reader-friendly :)

My employer meets requirements 5 and 6.  That's 2 out of 6 that must ALL be met.  So the question now is, what do I do?

Technically and legally, I could file a claim for back wages.  I could inform my other fellow interns of their right to do the same, but that would just be vindictive, and I'm not that type of person... yet... let's see how I feel about that if I'm asked to sort CDs again - which is ABSOLUTELY in violation of requirements #2 and #4.

At the very least, I will use this when the time comes to leave before my designated term is up.  My "employer" has a dishonorable discharge policy where if you leave before your term is up, you cannot use the time spent there on your resume, h and, if called, he will state that you were dishonorably discharged.  I can certainly now bypass that argument.

Ideally, I would like to use the information to turn the internship into something that actually will benefit me, but that discussion could be very uncomfortable and will likely result in no internship.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO? Comment below :)
When your last resort for working, whether it be for experience or just for sanity, is to accept an unpaid internship, what are you really getting yourself in for?

Anything, everything, and nothing all at once.  That's what you get.  And what do you expect?  You're working for free, which inherently implies that your experience so far is worth nothing, or at least less than what the employer believes they are giving you in return, which in my case amounts to the same thing.

I work for nothing, yet I diligently sit on the floor of my employer's apartment organizing his CDs.  I work for nothing, and get papers thrown at me without a please or thank you.  I work for nothing, and I have yet to get the one thing I was promised in return for working for free.  Experience. 

I am working at UNNAMED, an entertainment PR firm where I was hoping to break the cycle of needing entertainment experience to break into the industry.  I want to break into this so badly that I thought 4 months of unpaid work would be worth it.  But so far I have yet to see any entertainment clients, let alone anyone close to a celebrity. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not in it for the celebrities.  Not just them anyway.  I am good at what I do, I just want to do it in an industry that fascinates me and inspires me to go beyond "good at what I do".  I spend everyday on gossip sites, watching tv, movies, reading books, watching the news.  That's just what interests me, and if I were given the chance to do what I do in one of those industries, I would be able to go beyond "good at what I do" and "thanks for the paycheck", over to: "I love what I do and never thought I would get better at what I do", and, "Wow, I get paid to do this too!"

That's all I'm asking for... and I was willing to work for free to get there, but now I think I'm starting to realize that unless a company is invested in you, they'll just take what they can get while they've got it.

Welcome to the real world.

So it's been over a month now and still no job.  No paid job that is.  I'm still working at my unpaid internship.  Though the term "working" is used loosely.  My goal this week is to turn last weeks research into a bar chart.  FML.
This glorious reminder of my new life in Hollywood greets me every morning from my new apartment.  Okay, so I have to lay flat on my stomach on the back balcony to see it, but if that tree wasn't there it would be amazing!  I am planning a covert mission one night to chop the top 10 feet from the top of it but I am hoping a freak bolt of lightning will do the job for me before I have to figure out how to get up there. 



    Maggie Stewart is the dramatic, cynical, slightly more ballsy, and slightly less real alter-ego of a girl just trying to make something of herself in Hollywood - said girl intends to hold nothing back, which is where Maggie comes in... this is real life.

    Any images, unless stated otherwise, are not my property and it is not my intention to represent them as such.  If you are the owner of any image on this site, please notify me and it will be immediately removed.

    Any content resembling an individual or company in real life is to be regarded as fiction and opinions stated in the blog are to be taken only as opinion and not as fact... even if they are, more often than not, true - which is why names have been changed ;)


    March 2010


    Unpaid Internship

    RSS Feed

    Send comments or questions: