Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I Call Bullshit on Internships

I have a job again.

Or at least, I have the same job again. I got a call this morning that they want me to come back in January as a writer for the corporate video/doc company. They don't know how long for. Or even how much work there is. But I'm just glad to not have to compete in the blood bath that is our TV industry right now.

And, just as a side note, as someone that has been scouring job postings for the past couple weeks with little or no luck, how useless is Craigslist (or the internet for that matter)? Not the site itself, it seems like a good space for posting, but there are just no good jobs posted. I'd find a gig that read like my perfect position and then find that it's a 3-month volunteer internship. For God's sake, pay your PAs, researchers, script assistants at least minimum wage.

In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb here and call bullshit on internships. I don't mean that all internships are bullshit. Those that are part of school, fine. Those that you can do part-time or telecommuting, while working a paying job, OK. And if they are teaching you valuable lessons about your chosen career, great! But those that have you come to work for 8+ hours a day, after you've graduated from University or College and have rent, food, and student loans to pay back, and who could hire someone for $9/hour but don't want to spend the money, that is slavery.

Let's just think about this - you're working full-time, doing bitch-work for no money with the possibility that you could be hired on to be paid afterwards. In the US there's the Fair Labor Standards Act, which says that there are 6 conditions to be met in order for an internship to be legal. The two most important rules are that an intern cannot do the same work as a regular employee, and that the employer must not obtain "immediate advantage from the activities of the student." So your photocopy and FedEx internship is not only a waste of time, it's illegal.

Anyway, this blog post is much longer than I'd originally intended. I certainly didn't plan on linking to a government website.

And the ironic thing is, even though this is my opinion about the industry at large, if I was offered an internship on a scripted TV show, I'd take it and shut the hell up. *sigh*


Caitlin said...

Hear, hear!

Benjamin Ray said...


I know it's hard.
But working for free
is one stressful way
of getting your foot
in the door.

I have done it with
my non-writing business
with some success.

As for screenwriting,
honestly, if my kind
of project comes along.
I will write it for free.
Actually I have done it
with short films.

Benjamin Ray

Chalk said...

I agree. I googled "internships are bullshit" and your post was the top result :)

Nicole said...

I did shut up and took the unpaid illegal internship. I knew I shouldn't have, I knew I would regret it, and here I am 2 months later, regretting it.

Someone offering grunt work for an unpaid internship that has no intention of teaching you anything is a sign that their company is in shambles. Bail, and bail fast. It's better to think there might be something better, than sitting there day in and day out *knowing* anything paying would be better.