An Economist news story (hitting newsstands tomorrow) entitled, "Inferno for interns: The annual race to the bottom of the corporate ladder begins," quotes Ross Perlin, author of Intern Nation, to help illustrate the unfairness of the unpaid internship:
Organisations in America save $2 billion a year by not paying interns a minimum wage, writes Ross Perlin in Intern Nation, a new book about the "highly competitive race to the bottom of the corporate ladder". Perhaps one-third of all internships at for-profit companies are unpaid, and interns now often fill roles once held by full-time employees. "Young people and their parents are subsidising labour for Fortune 500 companies," Mr Perlin comments.
Making reference to the issue of academic credits, something explored at length by Perlin in his recent New York Times op-ed, "Unpaid interns, complicit colleges," the Economist notes,
To avoid legal complications, companies often encourage students to work in exchange for academic credits from their college. But such credits can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Some colleges waive their fees or earn them by offering guidance and oversight. For many institutions, however, they are an easy source of revenue, more beneficial to themselves than their students.
While the article somewhat despressingly points out that, "calls for new labour laws that reflect the growing prominence of internships have got nowhere," the publication of Intern Nation, is bringing this debate to a much wider audience and we hope to see real progress where policy is concerned in the coming months.
Visit the Economist to read the article in full.