Professor Cary L. Cooper reviews Intern Nation for Times Higher Education (THE). recommending Ross Perlin's insightful account of the internship culture which dominates our cotemporary labour market, where young people and students “earn nothing and learn little”.
Ross Perlin has penned a serious and extremely well-written text that offers sophisticated historical material about the origins of internship and its impact on the individuals concerned, the firms that use it and the world of work more generally. Intern Nation is not merely a collection of narratives of intern experiences but takes a strongly critical view of the majority of intern users, pithily summed up in the statement: "they hawk hope, sell unpaid labor for a fee and peddle in human futures".
Intern Nation dispels some of the myths behind the role internships play in the pursuit of stable, full-paid positions. Furthermore, it shows the enormous economic benefits they represent for large corporations, such as Disneyland. Tracing the history of the rise and rise of internships, Perlin shows that the popularity of unpaid or underpaid internships is rife in Capitol Hill and Westminster:
According to the union Unite, he notes, in the UK less than 1 per cent of the significant number of interns working in the offices of MPs receive the UK minimum wage and half are not reimbursed for expenses. This practice is thought to save Parliament nearly £5 million a year.
Professor Cooper concludes that “Intern Nation should be read by employers in all sectors before they begin to offer internships.”
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