Millions of young people—and increasingly some not-so-young people—now work as interns. They famously shuttle coffee in a thousand magazine offices, legislative backrooms, and Hollywood studios, but they also deliver aid in Afghanistan, map the human genome, and pick up garbage. Intern Nation is the first exposé of the exploitative world of internships. In this witty, astonishing, and serious investigative work, Ross Perlin profiles fellow interns, talks to academics and professionals about what unleashed this phenomenon, and explains why the intern boom is perverting workplace practices around the world.
The hardcover publication of this book precipitated a torrent of media coverage in the US and UK, and Perlin has added an entirely new afterword describing the growing focus on this woefully underreported story. Insightful and humorous, Intern Nation will transform the way we think about the culture of work.
Paperback, 286 pages
$14.95 / £9.99 / $18.50CAN
Ebook, 288 pages
Too many employers have convinced themselves that experience, plus a few quid for a sandwich and the bus fare, is an acceptable form of payment – we just never expected one of those employers to be the man who introduced the minimum wage law.
So says Tanya de Grunwald, founder of Graduate Fog, about recent revelations that Tony Blair has been staffing his offices with unpaid interns. According to the Guardian, one candidate for Blair's office had a 90-minute test before being told he was unsuitable because he was only able to commit to four days of unpaid work.
Verso author Ross Perlin was keen to draw attention to the fact that "experience" and "exploitation" seem to have the same meaning today with his book Intern Nation. In the wake of Perlin's book there has been a steady restructuring of internship rights and wages i.e. they appear to actually exist now. But the fact that former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is reported to make an annual income of £20m and who draws a public allowance and prime ministerial pension would not enforce his own wage legislation will probably not surprise everyone.
A spokesperson from HMRC has stated that they "always act on allegations of NMW abuse", while a statement from Tony Blair's office has said they value their interns "very highly".
I'm sure they do.
Visit the Guardian to read the article in full.
Softies such as Ross Perlin, the author of “Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy”, complain that unpaid internships are exploitative. They also fret that only well-heeled youngsters can afford to work for nothing. If an internship is the first rung on the career ladder, the less affluent will never climb it.Verso intern here, with generous post-Intern Nation wages. Of course, it's fitting for a news magazine to gloss over intern exploitation—O, to think of my comrades' gaunt, unpaid eyes as they factcheck or proofread against their self-interest—but when wholly discarding that little thing we know as class privilege, I don't know where to begin. Rent, food, and transport costs have pleasantly flown, notwithstanding the absence of personal income. Because hey, as The Economist reports, it seems you should do anything—even say, take out an intern loan, attendant with intern debt—to gain that valuable "experience:"
Others disagree [with Perlin]. “Anything that gives people an opportunity to gain experience is a good thing,” shrugs Jim Tapper of Korn/Ferry Whitehead Mann, a headhunter.Conclusions: Rent is high. Intern wages are low to nil. Now, what matter if some have more money than others? Everyone should intern because gaining experience is a good thing, as said with a shrug.