An unpaid intern weighs in on Ross Perlin's "diagnoses of injustice"
In the most recent Sunday edition of the Washington Post, Ross Perlin's Intern Nation got an exceptional review from one of its own subjects, a member of the unpaid masses. Katy Waldman, an unpaid intern at Slate, describes the book as an "eye-opening" investigation into the otherwise under-studied world of internships:
Perlin is at his best when he relates internships to broader socio-economic trends. He traces the spread of interns working for nothing to the rise of the Internet's "ideology of free," which invites users to churn out unpaid content in return for exposure. Online entrepreneurs and interns speak a common language, he says, aiming for a presence, whether on a browser or in an office. The author also touches on the oft-deplored phenomenon of suspended adolescence, which he connects to internships that maroon 20-somethings in a widening gray area between dependence and self-sufficiency. (As a former "serial intern," Perlin knows well how one unpaid gig leads to another.)
The book tackles a sprawling topic with earnestness and flair. Given the lack of scholarship on internships, much of its evidence is anecdotal, yet Perlin yanks readers to attention with a jaw-dropping statistic: 77 percent of unpaid interns are women. He brings wit and conviction to the expected arguments: that those who benefit directly from labor should bear the costs of that labor, that unsalaried jobs mean less money circulating in local economies, that wages teach young people their work has meaning. But he is equally eloquent on the business risks of depending on transient, wageless employees. Most powerfully, he shows how internships lie beyond the means of most Americans even as employers increasingly regard internship experience as a prerequisite for jobs.
Visit the Washington Post to read the review in full.