Work experience shouldn't come at the cost of exploiting college students.
Ah, internships. If you're a college student or were one recently, that word probably spikes your blood pressure a little bit, for better or for worse. Internships have traditionally been used as intensive training periods for college students or recent grads with little to no experience, in order to groom them into becoming full-time entry-level hires, often within the same company.
Nowadays, an internship is more of a necessary prerequisite to even be considered for a full-time position in many fields, not unlike a bachelor's degree itself. Hence it becoming more and more common for students to graduate college with four, five, six, or more completed semesters of interning under their belts.
So if you're a current student sifting through various job listing sites for your first or second (or third or fourth) internship, chances are you're going to come across more unpaid internship listings than paid ones. And while generally everyone agrees that working unpaid is, at the very least, a drag, you may take it for granted that unpaid internships are simply a part of the early career resume-building process. You don't have any experience, so why would anyone pay you? It's an educational experience, and you may even be getting college credit for it.
But once you're at that internship, manning a phone or printing hundreds of scripts or procuring coffee for the entire office, you may be thinking, "gee, that's quite a loophole that allows them to not pay me for this."
But does such a loophole really exist?
For non-profit organizations, yes; registered non-profits are subject to different rules than for-profit companies, one of which being that unpaid work can be performed by volunteers. (Imagine Google or Apple or PepsiCo soliciting "volunteers.") So if your internship is at a charitable organization, or even an arts organization that's registered as a non-profit, as many are, they are not legally required to pay you. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean they shouldn't pay you; how they treat their staff or even volunteers speaks to the integrity of an organization, and anyone demanding long hours and hard work with no compensation better be offering a fantastic and fulfilling experience to those unpaid hands. If you're studying something in a social justice or public service-related field, you might simply have to pick the unpaid internship offering the most flexible hours (which allow you to also work a paid job if you need to) and the most educational experience.
But what about for-profit companies offering unpaid internships? According to the Department of Labor, there are a series of six rules for unpaid internship programs that must be fulfilled in order for it to be legitimate:
1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
The DOL regulations go on to explain that "the more an internship program is structured around a classroom or academic experience as opposed to the employer's actual operations, the more likely the internship will be viewed as an extension of the individual's educational experience (this often occurs where a college or university exercises oversight over the internship program and provides educational credit)."
A lot of employers take this to mean that by offering college credit, the internship program is necessarily educational and serves the student/intern's interests. However, the opportunity to earn college credit (which more often than not requires little more than a signature and maybe a short letter from a supervisor to a student's academic advisor) is only a piece of the legal unpaid internship puzzle. The nature of the work is, per the DOL's wording, just as if not more important. What the first four of those criteria necessitate is that an unpaid intern basically can't be doing any work that benefits the company. Despite (very true) arguments one might make that an intern learns by doing, if the work is valuable in any way, it violates numbers 3 and 4 on that list. If the position is one that would otherwise be handled by paid staffers, or if the work benefits the employer, it needs to be paid. In short: unpaid interns can't be used as substitutes for paid entry-level employees, and they also can't be used to make existing staff's workload lighter and keep them from having to work overtime. They essentially need to be, as the DOL regulations go on to explain, simply job shadowing to be most clearly in cooperation with the law.
Wait a second. Does that sound like any internship you've ever heard of? Probably not. Most interns function somewhere between trainee and part-time employee, performing specific responsibilities and tasks that help support the functions of the company. This experience is certainly educational, in that students learn what it means to work in a particular industry, and to have responsibilities not just to your own GPA, but to a larger institution. But valuable work deserves compensation.
Plenty of employers make the argument that college credit is compensation, but as any former unpaid intern knows, the company doesn't so much "offer" you college credit as it does give you an opportunity to earn college credits that still fall under your own tuition bill. If those internship credits are outside of the allotted "full time" credit allowance most full-time students are already paying for at their universities, or if it's a time you wouldn't normally be paying for credits, like over the summer, that means you're paying your school—probably thousands of dollars—so that you can work. Which, yeah, doesn't exactly sound like compensation. And "experience" isn't considered compensation either. In law, there's always room for interpretation, but the guidelines the DOL provides are pretty clear: "If the interns are engaged in the operations of the employer or are performing productive work (for example, filing, performing other clerical work, or assisting customers), then the fact that they may be receiving some benefits in the form of a new skill or improved work habits will not exclude them from the FLSA's minimum wage and overtime requirements because the employer benefits from the interns' work."
So how do so many companies get away with possibly breaking the law by not paying their interns? Basically, because they can. Among students, the need for work experience is so great that plenty of students are willing, begrudgingly or not, to work for free. For those working in a media or entertainment field, paid internships can be so competitive that they almost certainly won't be a newbie's first relevant work experience. And while some students just accept this as an unfortunate reality, it can really hurt students from lower-income backgrounds who can't afford to work 2-3 (or even more) days a week without pay.
If you're an unpaid intern and you think your employer may be breaking the law by not paying you for productive work, you have a couple of options. The first one is to talk to your supervisor and/or company HR directly, either on your own or with the other unpaid interns. Try negotiating a minimum wage hourly rate, or at the very least a weekly stipend, which may still not be in accordance with the law but may be easier to accomplish and help reduce your financial burden. It's entirely possible that your supervisors may not be familiar with the legal guidelines on what constitutes an unpaid internship, or they may be unaware that when they require you to be earning credit for the internship, that you have to pay for each of those credits yourself.
If approaching your supervisor directly doesn't work, doesn't seem likely to work, or seems like it could be putting your job or name at risk, you may have grounds to file a complaint or even a lawsuit. In the last five or so years, a number of class action lawsuits have been filed against major companies like Conde Nast and Fox, which have settled or at the very least pressured the companies enough to start paying their interns going forward or cut internship programs they can't afford to fund. If you think you've been unfairly unpaid as an intern, consider taking one of these actions—you'll be standing up not only for yourself, but for all students interning or looking for internships.
It's one thing for a non-profit to claim that it can't afford to pay its interns, but when it comes to for-profit companies, if work needs to get done, it needs to be factored into the budget in terms of wages. Otherwise, it's just exploitative. Paid internships for productive work aren't "nice"—they're a requirement for demonstrating respect and appreciation for young employees' time and efforts. They're also the law.
To Donald Trump: 5 Ways You're Actually a Flawless Being Doing a Beautiful, Unbelievable Job Right Now
You could resign if you want to, but then who will keep America so GD great?
With Donald Trump making a visit to Bangor, Maine today, the editorial board of the Portland Press Herald issued an op-ed calling for President Trump to resign.
The harshly critical piece entitled "To President Trump: You Should Resign Now" was framed as an open letter to the president and got straight to the point with this opening plea, "We're sorry that you decided to come to Maine, but since you are here, could you do us a favor? Resign."
In recent days even George W. Bush has been critical of President Trump's response to protests, so this new piece quickly became a trending topic on Twitter. Obviously this is another baseless attack from the lying news media—AKA lügenpresse. Considering how delicate our president's ego is—he's our special little guy—we can only hope that Donald Trump didn't see the letter; but just in case he did, it's worth writing another one to lift his spirits. So here's our best attempt—with lots of pictures and flattery to keep him reading:
You Know How to Look Tough<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM3NTYyNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwOTE5Nzc3M30.9B4CSWzpZGjBq7APFv_KJKf-QV8n2kEIYcBIOTUt02k/img.jpg?width=980" id="0a07e" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="980538d3ccf27d180ce2f7e147f1259f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="trump eagle scared" /><p>Joe Biden is always trying to challenge you to push up contests or saying he would "<a href="https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/21/politics/joe-biden-donald-trump/index.html" target="_blank">beat the hell</a>" out of you, but you don't engage with that nonsense. You know that it's not important for a leader to actually be tough as long as you look tough. That's why you avoid protesters like the plague. In 2018 you <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/12/donald-trump-visit-to-london-called-off-amid-fears-of-mass-protests" target="_blank">canceled your London trip</a> amid protests there, and more recently, you authorized the use of violent force to disperse peaceful demonstrators <a href="https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trump-calls-tear-gas-reports-fake-news-protesters/story?id=71052769" target="_blank">so you could have a photo-op in front of a church</a>.</p><p>Whether it's because you don't want to be seen as having less than absolute control over the unruly crowds, or just because you pee a little bit whenever you're around political activism (probably that), we all owe you a debt of gratitude for avoiding any confrontation or engagement with <a href="https://www.popdust.com/jimmy-fallon-blackface-2646105674.html" target="_blank">the mass protests against police brutality</a> that are taking place throughout our country right now—why engage when you can just use more police brutality to avoid them altogether?! It's the only way for you to maintain that all-important facade of toughness that makes you undeniably the most respected current president of the United States. And now that you've <a href="https://www.newsweek.com/white-house-fence-protests-washington-1508703" target="_blank">surrounded the White House with two miles of barricade—</a>#BuildThatWall—we never have to worry about press cameras catching sight of a faint stain spreading out from the crotch of your pants.</p>
You Know Who the Real Enemy Is<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM3NTYyMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNzg3NjY1M30.J6PsxmoxCL_8jSPRBcTHkFrHNRm7bgVmYzBcXmfDNHQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="c7b59" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f8a213c28f6c8ba27cef403b76ff012c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="trump after you tweet" /><p>Earlier this year FBI director Christopher Wray announced that racist domestic violence was <a href="https://www.npr.org/2020/02/10/804616715/fbi-announces-that-racist-violence-is-now-equal-priority-to-foreign-terrorism" target="_blank">being prioritized just as much as foreign terror threats</a>. On one level that could be seen as a sign that white supremacy is a major problem in the US, and that perpetrators of deadly hate crimes should be labeled terrorists, but you know better—obviously, since you're both very stable and a genius. If we start labeling white people as terrorists, then it will just make it harder to keep stoking fears about Islam, bad hombres, and other brown people problems.</p><p>Besides, if white men can be bad guys too, then that could include you! And as we all know, an attack against you is <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7808431/Trump-channels-Uncle-Sam-tweet-saying-Democrats-just-way.html" target="_blank">actually an attack against all good, patriotic Americans</a>. Therefore the real enemy is anyone trying to aggressively call out and push back against white supremacy and white nationalism. That's why <a href="https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/antifa-group-trump-designate-terrorist-organization/story?id=71045287" target="_blank">you want to designate Antifa a terrorist organization</a>. Who cares that they <a href="https://www.factcheck.org/2020/06/trump-cant-designate-antifa-or-any-movement-domestic-terrorist-organization/" target="_blank">aren't even an organization at all—</a>it's just an ethos of publicly and aggressively confronting fascism and related ideologies. And who cares if there's no way to single out anti-fascist activism from wider, constitutionally protected protests like the Black Lives Matter movement?</p><p>Treating people who oppose you as terrorists will free you up to <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52932611" target="_blank">unleash state violence</a>, <a href="https://www.aclu.org/issues/national-security/privacy-and-surveillance/watchlists" target="_blank">surveillance, and travel restrictions</a>. Besides, we already have <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52932611" target="_blank">a hyper-militarized police force</a>, which has worked out great—apart from a few "<a href="https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/500328-national-security-adviser-blames-a-few-bad-apples-says-theres-not" target="_blank">bad apples</a>" (who seem to operate with impunity for some reason, right up until there's a mass uprising). So put "<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-my-generals-my-military-2017-10" target="_blank">your military</a>" to work and crack down on all of them with the full force of martial law! Or, as you put it, "<a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/2020-daily-trail-markers-trump-declares-we-will-dominate-the-streets/" target="_blank">Dominate the streets.</a>" Keep <a href="https://theintercept.com/2020/06/04/fbi-nypd-political-spying-antifa-protests/" target="_blank">interrogating protesters about their political beliefs</a>, and if enough of them end up too scared or too imprisoned or too dead to keep opposing you, you won't even have to take away their voting rights (although, we should look into that) to be a shoe-in for reelection!</p>
You Know that Free Speech Is Not as Important as Guns<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="528bc162ed6e6a07fe1e0245016bffff"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-K7XJGk8lyQ?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>In your recent announcement that you were "mobilizing all available federal resources, civilian and military, to stop the rioting and looting," you said you were doing so "to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans, including your second amendment rights." It was the only amendment you mentioned, and you even gave it some extra emphasis <a href="https://www.indy100.com/article/trump-second-amendment-speech-george-floyd-protests-9544011" target="_blank">as though encouraging "law-abiding Americans" to exercise their gun rights</a> in the face of rioting—because gun-toting Trump supporters to mass demonstrations of institutional racism and white supremacy will...calm things down?</p><p>We don't have to fully understand you to appreciate the fact that you skipped over that pesky first amendment—with the free speech and right to assemble that could get in the way of your military dominating the streets—and got to the important one. Maybe the "innocent" man you touted in your speech—<a href="https://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2020/05/31/unfounded-trump-tweet-echoes-heavy-metal-guitarist-claim-that-antifa-beat-machete-wielding-dallas-man/" target="_blank">who chased after people in Dallas while wielding a machete—</a>wouldn't have been "savagely beaten," if he'd been wielding a gun instead. Besides, everyone knows that the only real enemies of free speech are <a href="https://www.popdust.com/mark-zuckerberg-trump-2646117777.html" target="_blank">private companies who call you out for "glorifying violence."</a> As long as the American people retain the right to retweet you with impunity, they have all the free speech they need, and they should stay inside and protest in ways that don't disrupt established order or do anything to upset the status quo (because no one has the right to make you pee a little bit).</p>
You Value the Economy<iframe width="100%" height="150" scrolling="no" class="rm-shortcode twitter-embed-1268968348278292484" id="twitter-embed-1268968348278292484" lazy-loadable="true" src="/res/community/twitter_embed/?iframe_id=twitter-embed-1268968348278292484&created_ts=1591380605.0&screen_name=CNN&text=The+President+went+from+talking+about+jobs+to+praising+police.+Then+he+claimed+it%27s+a+%22great+day%22+for+the+man+whose%E2%80%A6+https%3A%2F%2Ft.co%2FP3mMAREHMc&id=1268968348278292484&name=CNN" frameborder="0" data-rm-shortcode-id="51cee049686210db564d6bbf94f563e3"></iframe><p>Every president knows that the maintaining the economy is important, but as a business man—with that eagle-eyed focus on short term growth that has <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/donald-trumps-business-failures-were-very-real" target="_blank">led several of your businesses into bankruptcy</a>—you've made it clear that you value the economy more than anything else. Whether it's <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/05/politics/donald-trump-coronavirus-economy-models/index.html" target="_blank">the thousands of lives that will be lost</a> to the COVID-19 pandemic as we "reopen the economy" or t<a href="rgy-infrastructure-environmental-review-coronavirus" target="_blank">he dismantling of environmental regulations</a> that were getting in the way of cost-saving pollution, you don't let anything get in the way of a quick economic boost. You know that what's good for major industries today will be good for the American economy...also today.</p><p><span></span>Who cares about tomorrow?! We're having a hard time right now, and people want to <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/05/politics/trump-unemployment-numbers-protests/index.html" target="_blank">hear about how you've reduced unemployment</a>, not about 110,000 dead Americans or the necessity of police reform in the wake of <a href="https://www.popdust.com/derek-chauvin-hat-2646109506.html" target="_blank">George Floyd's murder at the hands of a police officer</a>. You can commemorate <a href="https://www.worldenvironmentday.global/" target="_blank">World Environment Day</a> by <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-environment-oceans/trump-plans-to-open-atlantic-sanctuary-to-commercial-fishing-sources-idUSKBN23C26N" target="_blank">opening up ocean conservation areas to commercial fishing</a>. Have ocean fish populations been cut in half over the last 50 years? Sure, but that means we have at least another decade or two before <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/report-million-extinctions-and-ecological-collapse-are-way" target="_blank">the total collapse of marine ecosystems</a>, and by then it will be some other jerk's problem!</p>
You Could Probably Cure COVID-19 if You Really Wanted<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM3NTY4MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwOTQ4Njg1OX0.UrYXJOB4Wut0GXnPkWhdOIOzYHq4pAS3JSSKg2qvSlA/img.jpg?width=980" id="cad7c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4d96bd6d9c28bdbcb31a1d0c32f23083" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="trump covid tester" /><p>Thanks to the fact that you have your priorities in order, and are purely focused on the economy, you haven't worried too much about all this pandemic nonsense—by, for example, providing adequate testing or not stealing vital PPE and ventilators from the states. You did <a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/germany-confirms-that-donald-trump-tried-to-buy-firm-working-on-coronavirus-vaccine/" target="_blank">try to get Americans exclusive access to a potential vaccine—</a>which would really stick it to all those jerks dying in other countries—but that didn't really pan out, so you'll probably just have to until the economy's sorted out so you can come up with a cure yourself.</p><p>After all, you have "<a href="https://www.politico.com/story/2019/05/30/donald-trump-iq-intelligence-1347149" target="_blank">one of the highest</a>" IQs, "<a href="https://www.politico.com/blogs/2016-gop-primary-live-updates-and-results/2016/03/trump-foreign-policy-adviser-220853" target="_blank">a very good brain</a>", and "<a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-healthcare-us-medicine-coronavirus-centers-for-disease-control-a9384441.html" target="_blank">natural ability</a>" for medical science. It only took you a matter of moments and the most superficial level of thought to come up with a brilliant new avenue for research—injecting disinfectant into people's bodies—so you can probably have this whole thing sorted out in a day or two once you get around to it.</p>
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