Interesting Article About the Cost of Unpaid Internships

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  08 August 2009
While I myself am against the whole idea of working for free, or worse, having to pay so that you can work, I believe this article is not about just paying for internships - but paying for internships that are "much" likelier to result in a job offer and at "much" more prestigious place than your regular foot-in-the-door one would.

I mean, who knows, if this CG thing doesn't work out, maybe I will* rob a liquor store and get me an internship as a manager at HSBC, or some such You do have to start somewhere, right? (j/k)
My Portfolio
  08 August 2009
Originally Posted by kandyRabitz22: work is work. Get paid for it. As far as this article goes- Money talks and B.s. walks. The world is a stupid place. The economy must not be that bad if people are still shelling-out 10-grand with no return for it. I would sooner rob a liquor store for cash than pay someone to let me work for them for free. That's insane. My god, maybe Hell has froze over?

just remember people "you are not your Khaki's".

Meanwhile in the REAL world, you are in prison for robbing a store and someone who paid out a bit of money or did some free work is working at Pixar. Well done you for sticking to your principles!

P.S: im against actually PAYING to work somewhere, but see no problem in doing some free work to get ahead.
  08 August 2009
I personally don't see any problem with this service. As the article says, the company is a middleman between aspiring interns and companies. Many companies are either too small or too busy to be dealing with sifting through and interviewing potential interns. It is a large cost in terms of time and money.. and of course they want the best they can get for their time and money spent. The cost to a business is even larger if they manage to hire the wrong intern or one that doesn't work out, and they lose the opportunity to hire one of the other applicants who may have been a better fit.

The middleman reduces that risk and assists both sides in finding a match that works for both parties, ideally the best candidate for what the company is looking for. The benefit for the potential intern is that the middleman has the resources and network to find little known positions that may be an excellent fit for them, something they may not have otherwise found out about on their own.

Looking for internships can be a messy business, with widely varying application due dates, non-existent job descriptions, and lousy outreach. It looks to me as if this business vastly simplifies the process, for those who can afford it. Both parties are paying for a headhunter in essence.
And for those who can't afford it, there are always the same online job sites, and university career centers. Money has always made some things easier, it's a fact of life.

But for unpaid internships, in many places it is required that you take school credit for it, as worthless as that may be to some.
  08 August 2009
Originally Posted by thethule: Meanwhile in the REAL world, you are in prison for robbing a store and someone who paid out a bit of money or did some free work is working at Pixar. Well done you for sticking to your principles!

P.S: im against actually PAYING to work somewhere, but see no problem in doing some free work to get ahead.

No, no. There is a fundamental social and ethical argument here. Most crime breeds out of need. I need things to survive in "THE BIG REAL WORLD". If I can't get them then I have to turn to crime, and I can tell you that I dont have 6-10 grand to pay some one to get a job. And the idea of doing that in itself is bass-akwards and insane. You wanna talk about money? Why would I do something for you for free? I work to survive. I don't work for fun. The only reason I work for someone else is because I, like most people, lack the financial means to start my own business. So I make a deal with you to do work for you so that we can all make a profit, and the owner always makes way more profit than the worker. I need equipment, you need an operator. Don't give me this pay you and work for free, thats just greedy and pretty unethical. If u want people to work for free go over-seas like everyone else! So now having money lets you buy into a job too. Great. So much for hard work. Food prices go up, my rent has gone up, gas has gone up, energy bills have gone up, water has gone up, and I took a percentage pay cut at work due to flat sales. And your trying to tell me that I should not only work for free, but also pay you to work for you? Don't mention "The REAL WORLD" to me. In the REAL WORLD we have to eat somehow. In THE REAL WORLD, no one I know has 6-10 grand to throw away cause we are too busy working hard to earn pay to eat. That is extremely condenscending.
You want to pay for training? Goto school. They will gladly take your cash.
  08 August 2009

I thought my first argument was fairly good, but lets pretend it is not. No one does anything for free. An unpaid internship can provide valuable connections, experience, and resources, so that's why some people do it. The biggest reason I see unpaid internships as being unethical is that they provide a leg up for people who can afford them. This is fairly abstract but stay with me. Lets say the following:

Artist 1 comes from a low income family, but spends his days and nights studying and produces a fairly impressive portfolio reel.

Artist 2 comes from a high income family, and produces a mediocre portfolio reel

An unpaid internship opens up in San Francisco.

Artist 1 can't afford rent, food, and whatever, so Artist 2 get's the job because of his resources.

Everyone deserves the same opportunities. Unpaid internships screw with the balance, because if you're not being paid with cash? Then what? Experience? Do you go up to honda and buy a car by teaching a sales rep some maya tricks? We don't trade chickens! It's impossible to track the value of connections and experience. So how can you get paid in something you can't measure?

Last edited by nemotoad : 08 August 2009 at 02:46 AM. Reason: typo
  08 August 2009
Originally Posted by nemotoad: ....It's impossible to track the value of connections and experience. So how can you get paid in something you can't measure?

I would disagree. I think it's not that difficult to measure the value of experience and connections. E.g. What kind of job/position can you get without experience and connections and how much would that pay, versus a job/position you get after having had some experience/made some connections - and top it off, it was at some prestigious place. The latter would definitely look better on your resume.

I actually did try a few things that test this a couple of years ago. I applied to a bunch of companies with a demo reel and a resume that didn't have some of my work experience listed. I didn't hear a thing from any of them. Several months later I tried again, with the same demo reel, only that time I also included my old experience - mentioned it in the email application actually. That went siginifcantly better - and I got some positive replies, even phone calls from art departments from the companies that I applied to. Which tells me that HR people, who look through your resume, can dismiss you if your resume doesn't have enough "meat" in it - and then nobody is going to see your demo reel, no matter how good you might think it is.

So yeah - it's actually pretty easy to measure - on one side you have 0$ from not having a job and on the other is whatever $ you are making from having a job and then what you would be making if you had help from those companies that you paid 8k for. I am sure that 8k would pay for itself very quickly, probably in the same year, depending on the field you get the job in.

Lastly, there are many things that make something more or less "fair". Money is just one of the factors, but you don't take into account many advantages or disadvantages some people are just naturally born/grow up with that affect their ability to succeed/get a job - and I don't want to even get started on those.

I think paying for internship placement is a nice option to have, but I d rather try on my own.
My Portfolio
  08 August 2009
You make a solid and interesting point on measuring the value of experience. Kinda defeats the "The reel is all that matters" mentality though. The reason I say it's impossible to measure is because of other factors that go into employment,

Say you have Tommy the texture artist and he has his uncle working at studio A.

Tommy does an internship at studio B.
Tommy applies to studio A and lands a job.
Did he obtain the job because of:
His connection with his uncle?
His experience with studio B?
The quality of his work?

Probably a little of all three. So what percentage of his new salary at studio A does the internship get to take credit for? I'm not saying experience is worthless, just that it's tough to track how valuable it is.

I don't know if people are genetically predisposition to succeed? I would love to see some data that backs that up, as it would be very interesting. I did read somewhere that very introverted people had a more difficult time holding certain jobs, like sales. Then again it is not possible today to tell if people are born introverted or not.

Regardless of this, even if someone was genetically born to be more successful, there is no reason why it justifies wealthy kids having more options than poor ones.
  08 August 2009
Right. Well, hypothetically speaking then, why would Tommy be doing an internship if he could get a job with the help of his uncle alone? I d guess he did it because that was the only way he could get the job (unless he likes paid/unpaid internships and does them for the sake of it). The end result is still a difference between having and not having a job, which can be measured monetarily.

As for other advantages/disadvantages people are born/grow up with, I didn't mean genetic ones (although they surely would matter). It's stuff like where you live, is your environment a good one, are your family/friends supportive or do they do everything to send you on a different path, etc,etc. All those things play a huge role in making you successful - I would say money is the least significant of them all.
My Portfolio
  08 August 2009
I think we see eye to eye on that, Money is ultimately not as important in making a successful person as other factors.

I guess I just saw it as more immediate, because of my proximity to it. I can chose to hire an intern with pay or without, but I can't fix his upbringing.
  08 August 2009
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