Author: cvincenty

Internships: Today’s Slave Work?


image from BunkerLawGroup

Internship programs are not adequately preparing their interns with the necessary skills required to thrive in a career. Many work tirelessly and are not properly compensated. The focus is no longer on the intern, but the employers finding free labor within a difficult job market.

Internship programs were established to give people an opportunity to be part of the workforce and gain vital experience. It is also a time to make essential connections with future employers. They have been considered excellent resume builders that increase the marketability of an individual. In an article by Jennifer Bay she describes her idea of an internship’s purpose by saying “Internships or experiential learning situations are popular ways for universities to address student desire for career preparation”. She also suggests that all the work must be relevant to what the rest of the workplace is doing.  Sadly, her view is overly idealistic and does not align with the true nature of these practices.

One of the main issues is the lack of payment interns receive. Compensation is not required for an individual’s efforts if the employers stay within the Labor Department’s guidelines. According to an article from The New York Times, “The Labor Department says that if employers do not want to pay their interns, the internships must resemble vocational education… cannot not be of immediate benefit to the employer” (Greenhouse). Specific boundaries have been set, yet little is stopping employers from exploiting their interns. In an article from TIME , Diana Wang recounts her experience interning and how the company took advantage of her. Like many others, she too was given jobs that make the intern feel that they are not contributing to the progression of the business. This has become one of the largest stigmas associated with interning. The coffee mug above gives a comedic example of a ‘job’ an intern might be given. It shows a green coffee mug that reads “Fill This, Intern.” This shows how widespread the belief is that interns are forced to do tasks that waste their talents, and provides no educational experience. It makes an individual seem inconsequential and worthless.


Image from PBS

These recognized issues are not stopping many students. With the unemployment rate at an all time high, students with little to no resume continue to flock towards these “opportunities”. However, the demanding schedule leaves no room for one to find a second, paid job. While some are completing meaningless tasks, others are operating on the same caliber as the rest of the employees. With the majority of their time spent slaving away, while trying to sustain themselves, it can be very easy for one to quickly fall into debt.  This image shows just how terrifying debt is and how it can easily creep on one if they are not careful. Juggling all the responsibilities of work and home life, especially if one is newly independent, can quickly becoming overwhelming. Having no source of income only adds to the anxiety.

Employers do not have free reign over how they treat their interns. Intern Nation by Ross Perlin lists the required criteria that must be met.  The rules are meant to ensure that the employer and employee have a clear understanding of the extent of their duties and give fair compensation for these efforts. Perlin says, “…but if even one of the six criteria is not met, the internship is legally considered a job, bringing the benefits of the minimum wage, overtime pay, and associated rights.”. The same article from Time shares the story of Eric Glatt , who worked on set for the film Black Swan. His job was not even listed as an intern. He was listed as an accounting clerk. He was working full days in a position that is normally paid. It resulted in Glatt filing a lawsuit against Fox Searchlight. People, such as him, are bravely leading the charge toward fair treatment.

Interning is not an unsalvageable practice. Many programs that run through universities are highly structured and provide educational experiences. Internships can often build into the curriculum and work toward better understanding of a concept. A scholarly article that came out of Wayne State University  shows us how a highly structured internship that’s organized by the school can be a worthy time investment. Three examples are given of students who attended the University. All of the internships directly aligned with their respective majors. These interns were also paid. “This position is taken for a sound sociological reason: it teaches the intern and the sponsor that sociological skills deserve and require compensation” (Kelly). It teaches the students what to expect when working and sets a standard so they accept no less than they deserve.  This scholarly article is a perfect example of how an internship program can run at the optimal efficiency.

Internship programs have the potential to be the perfect transition between school and full- time employment. However, The system is still imperfect and people have been allowed to slip by without facing the consequences. Not all internship programs are corrupt or unfair, but enough evidence is present to support the claim that interning is not always the best course of action and may not be the best place to invest one’s time and energy.

Works Cited

The Uneven Playing Field of Unpaid Internships.” Cartoon. PBS. PBS, 09 May 2012. Web. 25 Oct. 2012.

Unpaid Internships and Small Businesses. N.d. Photograph. Unpaid Internships. Web. 30 Oct. 2012.

Perlin, Ross. Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy. London: Verso, 2011. Print

Greenhouse, Steven. “Jobs Few, Grads Flock to Unpaid Internships.” 6 May 2012: n. pag. The New York Times. The New York Times, 05 May 2012. Web. 9 Oct. 2012.

Sanburn, Josh. “The Beginning of the End of the Unpaid Internship.” N.p., 2 May 2012. Web. 30 Oct. 2012.

Bay, Jennifer. Preparing Undergraduates for Careers: An Argument for the Internship Practicum. N.p., Nov. 2006. Web.

Kelly, Robert F. Teaching Graduate Applied Sociology Through Internships: Program Development, Management, and Problems. N.p., n.d. Web.

Loretto, Penny. “New Department of Labor Guidelines on Internships.” Internships. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2012.
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Free Labor

With unemployment at an all time high, students leap on an job opportunity, regardless of payment.
The image above is a cartoon. The title reads “John’s First Job”. On the left is a boy in his blue cap and gown, holding a diploma. It is evident that he has just graduated from high school because of the building in the background. The full title of the school is not given, but recognizing it as a high school graduation rather than a college graduation was likely the author’s intent. On the far right another student is walking by. A sharply dressed man has his hand on the boy’s shoulder and he is offering him an unpaid job. His exact position is unclear. You cannot tell if he is a professor or from an outside business. A nicely dressed woman stands behind them. Her clothes are outdated by today’s standards but they show wealth.
The economy is struggling today and many young adults have discovered that they have very few options. Even those who have high school degrees or even ones from universities are not necessarily better off than those who lack either. They may still be forced to do manual labor or perform menial tasks for minimum wage or even for free. Even internships can be hard to come by. The image above is mocking how absurd it is that many are willingly and joyfully accepting jobs, knowing they will not be paid. No one is genuinely happy that they are unpaid but many see it as the best way of getting their foot in the door. The part of the image I find most intriguing is the apparent wealth the family seems to have. It is unclear but it could be saying how a spoiled generation is unprepared for what they will face once they leave their parents and start living on their own.
Jobs are fiercely competitive so students try and build the best resume and make as many connections as possible. However, the lack of an employment guarantee can leave one wondering if taking on an unpaid internship is the best use of their time. Occasionally, the plans do come to fruition but there are an equal amount of disappointments. It is up to the individual to decide where to use the skills they have acquired.

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Vandal or Artist?

It is popularly recognized that California, Los Angeles and Venice Beach in particular, is filled with creative artists who are working to make a living off of their artistic endeavors. The freedom of self-expression often extends far beyond the studio and reaches out into every facet of the city.

The photograph shows a line of palm trees in the sand. The most eye-catching part of this photo is the abundance of graffiti in the foreground. There is a large barrel on the left side, which is presumably a trashcan, but its purpose is not entirely clear. There is a short wall behind the receptacle. The shot is taken from the sand, facing the street. There is a line of buildings in the background and there is a man sitting in the background on the right side. In the graffiti you can see letters sprayed onto the trees. It is difficult to make out any words and it could be presumed that it is the artist’s signature. Much of the paint is overlapping, increasing the difficulty to identify individual drawings. The trees closer to the street remain unpainted.

Hundreds of artists line the streets of Venice Beach, California. Whether it is painting portraits of anyone who is willing to sit down or setting up a live band performance, there is always someone trying to share their gifts. Many talented people remain unrecognized and struggle to find work, so they turn to drastic measures to spread their ideas. In many circumstances, what is pictured could be viewed as mindless vandalism but the location of the graffiti alters the perspective. The whole area seems to operate on a different plane than the rest of the world. Many things that normally are considered socially unacceptable are abundant in places like Venice Beach. There are many working, iconic performers out in Southern California who have achieved fame and fortune but for every famous actor there are dozens trying to get their name out and find work. It is a difficult, often cutthroat business and those who are just keeping their heads above water occasionally resort to dramatic ways of sharing their talents. There is no guarantee that they will receive validation for what they are doing. They might even be scorned if the way you choose to express is like in the photo above. But some might view the inability to create as a worse punishment than any legal fine or sitting behind a desk from 9:00- 5:00 every day.

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L.A lifestyle

Many people who travel west to Los Angeles, in hopes of fulfilling the American Dream of riches and success, get swept up in the extravagant lifestyle that is available to anyone who can afford it.  Sadly, many find themselves unable to keep up with the demands of these luxurious complexes.

The photograph shows an outdoor view of an apartment complex. There is a pool that has been illuminated from underwater. Lounge chairs surround the entire pool but they are all empty. There are palm trees and other tropical plants lining the edge of the complex. All of the outdoor lights are on in the center building. It is unclear whether the lighting choices in the image are to enhance the aesthetic of the apartments or if it is simply an automated switch once it is evening. The sky is dark, but cloudless and serene, adding to the idealistic image the picture is trying to convey. The building is four stories tall and remains unlit on the right and left sides. In the center of the image, part of the building becomes cylindrical and it is painted a different color. At the top of this complex is a lighted ring, whose purpose is unclear.

Apartment complexes, such as this one, try and persuade people into paying outrageous rent fees by justifying it with the environment in which you would be living. Some design their apartments to function and appear like resorts, for anyone who has saved enough money to enjoy an endless vacation from the comfort of their own home. Even the cheapest and smallest apartments cost well over $1,000 a month. For that price many only get a single bedroom and living room. Location is also key in determining the price of an apartment. Apartments that are closer to landmark locations, such as Hollywood, are often much more expensive. Information and tourist traps such as this are used as justification for the prices. Potential buyers often get fiercely competitive when trying to score the next cheapest apartment that becomes available. The hunt for the right apartment is arguably equally as competitive and difficult to find as the occupations people moved out west to pursue. It can be daunting to move to such a fast paced and economically demanding part of the country but the allure of being able to one day live in the wealthiest neighborhood could possibly be the incentive needed to make a dream career a reality.

Curation 1

In a sea of people it can be difficult for one to stand out and make an impression. People are generally focused on themselves and do not acknowledge those around them. However, those who do manage to stand out from the crowd are not always viewed in a positive light.

The image above is the album cover by the band A Day to Remember. The first thing that catches the viewers eye in this image is the man trapped in the hourglass. He is wearing a jacket but it is unclear how formal it is. If it is a business suit than the image could convey someone who is overwhelmed by work and is struggling to keep his head above water. The same amount of anxiety and helplessness could be attributed to an average citizen, struggling with any manner of issues, ranging anywhere from poverty to social anxiety. The background shows a variety of people, each going about their daily lives, completely oblivious to the man trapped. People in our society are so consumed with themselves and their own issues that they can’t bother helping anyone to lessen the burden. Each individual represented is unique.  There is a girl on the left who appears to be a student and next to her is a man covered in tattoos. On the left there is a woman in a green jacket holding a child followed by a man in a sharp suit. Each of these people carries unique characteristics when looked at individually but it is far more common and natural to look at the image as a whole and merely see citizens of an urban society. Each person’s status is lowered when looking at them in the context of the image. They are all doing the same thing and the only true distinguishing characteristic is their wardrobe.

The album cover is really about someone wanting to be recognized amongst an endless see of forgettable faces. Once we are placed in our environment and it starts to affect our behavior, we quickly look for ways of occupying ourselves that separate us from one another.Thousands of people go into the same field of study but it is the ones who strive to go above and beyond what is required that stand out. I think the man in the hourglass is in a rut and is struggling trying to find a way to make an impact after numerous failures, which is why he feels like he is running out of time. Everyone has the capability to affect change if they apply themselves to the task at hand and remain diligent in their work.