The question seasoned players frequently ask when The Intern issue comes up is: Could these students who have no or little experience in an industry gain access in any other way but through an internship? Through that, they get inside, can analyze how the game is played, learn skills, and make contacts. Sometimes they receive job offers.
However those pragmatic matters are ignored when the legalities and ethics of using interns are covered in the media. This time the setting for the outcry against supposed exploitation is New York University's Polytechnic School of Engineering and it's by Bloomberg Business Week. Conde Nast, which recently settled its intern lawsuit, has ended all intern programs.
Essentially, students at NYU are being paid $11 an hour to pitch in with the work at small companies. If they were hired, goes the argument, as real workers they would be making $43. The rub is: Would any organization hire them for $43?
BBW goes on to add that several of the interns had been hired as full-time workers at the organizations where they interned. At one time, doing what interns do now was framed as "paying your dues." For two years in the mid 1970s, I earned peanuts working full time at the University of Pittsburgh Department of News and Publications to learn the skills of public relations. That's what it took to make the leap into the private sector, where I more than doubled my salary, had a club membership, and received stock options. Was I exploited at Pitt? That wasn't an issue then. It was a must-do for experience.