By Mujie Cui
One of the world’s most influential media brands, Condé Nast, recently decided to shut down its internship program starting in 2014.
This decision arose from a lawsuit filed by two former interns of Condé Nast, claiming the publisher failed to pay them minimum wage.
Lauren Ballinger, who worked as an intern at W Magazine in 2009, and Matthew Leib, who interned at The New Yorker in 2009 and 2010, say they were paid less than $1 per hour.
In current world economic scenarios, it is hard for companies to pay each of their interns. Many companies require interns to gain college credit for internships.
According to the Department of Labor, an unpaid internship must meet all of the criteria that ensure the internship is similar to the training which would be given in an educational environment. The responsibility of interns would not cover the responsibilities of paid employees. The employers do not benefit from the work that interns are doing, “and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded.” Further, interns are notified by paper that theirs is an unpaid position.
On internshipsrating.com, a member named “m05,” complained about his or her internship in W Magazine’s photo shooting experience. The user wrote, “In the end the only work was the check-ins and return, that means to carry heavy boxes. There was a compensation of $12 per day. You have to work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.. That means around $1 per hour.”
The user m05 also claimed that he or she was exploited by W Magazine and did not learn anything from the internship. In 2012, former interns at Hearst Corporation also filed a suit against the publisher based on a similar claim. They alleged that it violated wage and hour laws, but their case was denied class-action status earlier this year.
Internships provide opportunities to learn about the field that one is interested in, gain hands-on experience and network with established professionals.
For job applicants, having connections and related experiences on résumés can be a platinum chip, especially in an already shrunken and competitive job market. For students interested in media and journalism, a Condé Nast internship is priceless for the output connections and lessons.
Internships are important for students to gain valuable knowledge. Students can develop faster by gaining life experiences and professional knowledge.
Internships, in the eyes of many experts, have been described as an unfair game. Many companies would prefer students to study in their cities. Many internships are unpaid.
For low-income students, taking an internship instead of a part-time job will decrease their short-term gains.
They also have to bear the burden of accommodation, travel and other living expenses. Thus, some claim that internships are for students that come from rich backgrounds.
Many people have different definitions of the value of an internship. Some say experiences that help them to grow are more valuable, some say the salary that helps them to split the burden of living expenses is more valuable.
Now, Condé Nast has ended its internship program, and students will be able to gain internship experiences at a smaller number of existing publishing companies.
Students will have fewer opportunities to include a great internship on their résumés. The company will have less of their own trainees as a result.
Many people question how the intern-dependent Condé Nast will function.
Professor at Suffolk University Law School in Boston David Yamada told the Wall Street Journal, “If interns’ responsibilities are vital to a company’s operations, that company might create more permanent, entry-level jobs. In those cases, companies shouldn’t have been relying on interns in the first place.”
Condé Nast-related companies declined any comments on the ends of internship programs. Recently Vogue magazine posted an ad for freelance photo shoot assistant on Ed2010.com. This might indicate that Condé Nast will enlarge its job market, providing more post-graduates entry-level employment opportunities.