Blog post

Ross Perlin crushes the notion that internships are a "win-win situation"

Jennifer Pan 8 February 2012

On yesterday's Minnesota Public Radio Midmorning segment, Ross Perlin, author of Intern Nation, squared off against David Lat, who declared internships a "win-win situation" in a New York Times Room for Debate piece earlier this week. 

Both Perlin and listeners who called in to join the discussion pointed out that internships that offer college credit in exchange for core work are often illegal and exploitative ways for employers to avoid paying minimum wage, and create situations in which interns are essentially paying tuition to work. Perlin also reiterated that internships routinely displace and replace regular employees, and bar those who can't afford to work for free from entire industries where unpaid internships serve as the only entry.

"I think the law as it stands is adequate," Perlin concluded, in response to Midmorning host Kerri Miller's question of whether the Department of Labor's internship guidelines needed to be changed. "We just need to see enforcement of the law, and interns understanding their rights and standing up for themselves." 

As the recent high-profile lawsuits against companies like Fox Searchlight and Hearst seem to indicate, more and more interns are doing just that.

Visit MPR Midmorning with Kerri Miller to hear the full podcast.

Ross Perlin will be participating in a panel co-sponsored by Dissent on internships and precarious work at Left Forum.