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#INTERNSWTF


ABOUT THIS BOOK This book is the result of a semester long project completed at Parsons the New School for Design. As Design Management seniors, we were prompted with the task of finding an area of social need that contradicted the adopted rules as set forth by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. From there, we had to develop a solution to negate the social injustice resulting from these atrocities. We explored education, labor and protection as domains, ultimately arriving at the consensus of working on unpaid internships, as it is something that affects us all personally. Why do unpaid internships exist? Where did the idea for them come from? How can we ensure that interns are treated properly? These are just a few questions we will explore in this book. Through research, brainstorming and prototyping, we have ultimately come forth as a team to create the project in the following pages. It is a culmination of the skills we have developed over the past four years at Parsons. It is our hope that you can leave this book feeling better informed about the practice of unpaid internships in the United States.


By the way, this is the meaning behind our name...

ABO UT US

HOW WE WORK

DESIGN PROCESS We call ourselves Experience 129. Take a look at the process we will use to ideate #INTERNSWTF. We derived this process from our extensive experience as Parsons students and a little inspiration from design firms in the NYC area. We used our knowledge on service design, user interface and innovation methods to create this design process. We hope you’re ready to see it in action!

SOCIAL NEED

RESEARCH

IDEATION

PROTOTYPE

WE ARE EXPERIENCE 129

SCALE

experience, noun.

the conscious events that make up an individual life

the combined number of our years of age


These are the final three we narrowed it down to:

ABO UT US

DESIGN

LOGO DESIGN Here are a few illustrations we played with when designing our logo:

And this is the one we chose! We hope you like it.


ABO UT US

MEET OUR INTERNS We don’t have employees. Only interns.

INSEOK KANG

GRACE LAUREN

SEUNGHOON LEE

ANDREA PARDO

VICTORIA PETERSEN

intern

intern

intern

intern

intern

Fluent in Korean, skills in Microsoft Office, Adobe Suite, research, and support for customer need

Fluent in Japanese and Korean, skills in MS Office and Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Always seeking innovative and creative ways to solve problems

Fluent in Korean, merchandising & buying, Microsoft Office, Adobe Suite, provide administrative support for the customer relations

Fluent in Spanish and French, skill in in adobe suite & Microsoft office, very organized and pays attention to detail.

Research and writing, art history, creative project management, client relations, organization, fluent in French

Nice to meet you!


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71

IDEATION

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Ideas for Solutions

SOCIAL NEED Brainstorm United Nations Articles Problem Statement

77

PROTOTYPE Solutions

History Statistics

27

RESEARCH

Current Regulations Case Studies Personas Expert Interviews Existing Solutions Stakeholders

85

SCALE Applied Solutions Future Projections


SOCIAL NEED First off, we looked at a plethora of social issues in the world. By using mindmapping techniques we were able to sketch out some possible topics and eventually narrow it down to one!

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B RA INST O R M

BROAD SOCIAL ISSUES EARLY STAGES

We started out by thinking about some really broad social issues. We then began drawing out what was on our mind. You can see our mind maps on these pages.

[

human rights

women’s rights child labor illegal workers labor tax racism education organ trading terrorism protection fast-fashion industries tuition student loans unemployment human trafficking health care

DOMESTIC EDUCATION

DOMESTIC EDUCATION

CHILD LABOR

EDUCATION ABROAD

FASHION INDUSTRY

ILLEGAL FOREIGN WORKERS

LABOR

RACISM

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B RA INST O R M

NARROWING DOWN THE TOPIC MIDDLE STAGES

We then realized we were most interested in labor, education and protection. Here are the next steps of our mindmapping. We broke down these large issues into much smaller ones as you can see.

[ [ [

LABOR

child labor internships illegal immigration

[

labor education protection

tax tuition unemployment

EDUCATION

kidnapping human trafficking organ trading

PROTECTION

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T H E UNIVE RS A L D E CL A R ATI O N O F H U M AN RIGH T S

FINAL STAGES

THE UNITED NATIONS At this point, we consulted the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration was created in 1948 in response to the second World War, as a way to ensure that no future atrocities took place. World leaders agreed to abide by the laws, to ensure the human rights of citizens across the world. The committee who created the laws came from all over the world ensuring as many cultures were included as possible. The thirty laws represent universal recognition of the basic rights every human should be granted. They apply to everyone without regards to race, religion, language or other defining status. Now that we had three main domains, we thought this was a great place to narrow down our topic.

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T H E UNIVE RS A L D E CL A R ATI O N O F H U M AN RIGH T S

UN ARTICLE 23 FINAL STAGES

The article reads as follows:

Article 23 stuck out in our minds. It referenced something we could relate to. Furthermore, it was something we knew was being broken by the current internship system. Interns aren’t just learning from someone else. They are doing the same tasks that some entry level employees are doing. So isn’t that against the “equal pay for equal work” policy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Yes! We think so.

Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work. Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Finally we got it!

[

unpaid internships

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IN T E R NSWTF

PROBLEM STATEMENT

$7.25

DEFINING THE PROBLEM

the minimum wage per hour as declared by New York State law

160

the number of hours an intern works per month based on an 8 hour, 5 day work week

The problem is that interns are not getting paid. In companies large and small, interns are completing entry level work for zero compensation. They are subjected to long hours and mundane or profit-generating tasks. There is a lack of educational experience that must be included to categorize the program as an internship.

$1160

the total cost to an employer to pay one intern at minimum wage for one month

In today’s sluggish job market, many students must complete unpaid internships to ensure a competitive advantage for an entry level paid position. Underprivileged students are clearly placed at a disadvantage within this system.

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#INTERNSWTF When we think of illegal and unpaid internships, we think: “Interns... WTF?!� We incorporated this thought into the name of our movement. We aim to find opportunities to change the existing internship system to benefit both the employer and the intern in the best way possible.

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RESEARCH Although we had substantial experience as unpaid interns, we knew we had to dig deeper. We began to research all types of internships and interview key players in the game. We tried to be as least biased as we could.

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DEF INIT IO N

WHAT IS AN INTERN?

The Urban Dictionary definition: 1. Company bitch.

Intern, go scan these 5000 documents.

2. Free slaves in the workplace.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

Slavery is outlawed by numerous international treaties and a Proclamation in the United States.

The Merriam Webster definition: intern, adjective

an advanced student or graduate usually in a professional field gaining supervised practical experience. Origin of the word “Intern” archaic: internal middle french interne, from latin internus first known use: circa 1500

3. Poor innocent individual starting out with a whole set of impossible goals and naive ambitions that end up crushed under the path of some self-righteous menopausal bitch that is dissatisfied with her own life and for getting an office ass and taking it out on cute young girls that might actually make something of their lives and live their dreams...and work off the constantly invading office ass. An internship is when (usually a college undergraduate) goes and works for a company who can get away with paying him a very small salary or often nothing because he hasn’t graduated yet. It’s basically just working to make someone rich and getting nothing in return - the modern equivalent of slavery, except nowadays, people are actually willing. Person A: Hey! I got an internship with Yahoo this summer! Person B: Awesome! What will your job involve? Person A: Correcting grammatical errors, making cups of coffee.. you know the usual - they’re paying me $50 bucks at the end of the six weeks. Person B: That sounds fantastic! That’ll really benefit your career in the years to come.

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Let’s take a look at the development of the internship over the course of history...

A HIS T O RY OF I N TE R N S HI P S

TIMELINE 1890-1920s

1960s

LOOKING BACK

The practice of apprenticeships expands to fields such as medicine and science, where training becomes more broad and lecture-based.

Formal internships as we know them today begin to become popular

Today

Internships are as popular as ever, with a bachelor’s degree no longer substantial enough to land a paying position upon graduation.

1200s

Apprenticeships begin to become popular as a way to teach young adults a professional trade. The apprentice is usually training to learn a specific technical skill or craft, under close supervision. The master often houses and feeds his apprentice in addition to teaching him.

1920s

The business world begins to take on their own version of apprentices: messenger and copy boys

1970s

College board begin creating internship programs, making their universities seem more attractive to applicants and graduates more desirable to employers. Universities also begin offering credit for internships, making them even more appealing to students.

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A HIS T O RY OF I N TE R N S HI P S

ROOTS

It is estimated that

1/4 to 1/2

MOVING FORWARD

of all internships are entirely unpaid.

75%

Percentage of students at four-year colleges who complete at least one internship before graduating

We acknowledge that internships have strong roots in western culture. We see the value in passing down knowledge and traditions from our wiser elders, but a line must be drawn. What is the difference between education and exploitative labor? Take a look at some recent statistics.

13.3% Unemployment rate for 20-24 year olds as of March 2013

6.9% Unemployment rate for everyone 20 years and over as of March 2013

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IN T E R NSH IP S TOD AY

WHY DO PEOPLE INTERN?

BENEFITS OF INTERNING

If the economy is so terrible, then why do people intern? There are many valuable aspects to interning. Despite the lack of pay, interns typically gain strong personal connections to the industry they wish to break into, and valuable insights into the workflow of a particular field. Even if a student interns for a company they don’t necessary want to work for, learning about daily office norms are seen as the first steps of working towards a stable career. This is why internships have become extremely popular and almost a requirement to earn a good job after graduation.

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REG UL AT ION S

FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT

The Department of Labor goes on to specify that unpaid interns must receive training for their own educational benefit according to all the following criteria:

1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment; 2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;

CURRENT POLICIES

3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;

Interns in the for-profit private sector who qualify as employees rather than trainees typically must be paid at least the minimum wage and overtime compensation for hours worked over forty in a workweek.

4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded; 5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and 6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

Source: The United States Department of Labor, Fact Sheet 71

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THE ANALYSIS

C AS E ST UD Y 1

REAL WORLD

HEARST VS. WANG

Wang notes her desire to stop a never-ending cycle of shattered hopes that interns face in the fashion industry. Her bravery to fight against a big corporation and risk the blacklisting of her name is admirable. This is a small step in the battle against an ever-growing problem. Source: The International Business Times, December 5, 2012

THE CASE On February 1, 2012, a lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of New York by lawyers on behalf of Xudan “Diana” Wang, a former Harper’s Bazaar intern, against Hearst Corporation for the violation of federal and state labor laws. The class action lawsuit alleges that Hearst did not pay Wang for the up to 55-hour work weeks she completed during her time as an intern at the magazine. Wang claims she completed several clothing deliveries around New York City and assigned tasks to a team of interns. Over 3,000 interns have joined Wang’s cause so far, demanding back pay for their hours of labor.

THE DEFENSE In response, Hearst issued a statement reading: “The internship programs at each of our magazines are designed to enhance the educational experience of students who are receiving academic credit for their participation, and are otherwise fully in compliance with applicable laws. We intend to vigorously defend this matter.”

THE RESULTS The lawsuit is still pending. Rumors have circulated that Hearst has chosen to settle for an undisclosed sum, but that is unconfirmed. Regardless, many hope it is the first step in the right direction.

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C AS E ST UD Y 2

THE ANALYSIS

CONDE NAST MODIFIES PROGRAM

Conde Nast is clearly worried they will be the next target in the attack on unpaid internships. Their changes are certainly commendable and show the corporation’s interest in obeying the law, but are the changes in the best interest of the interns themselves? It seems the company is only looking out for themselves. The changes are not very radical, and given Conde Nast’s position in the publishing world, we expected more from them.

REAL WORLD

Source: Fashionista.com, March 2012

THE NEWS Very closely following the announcement of the Hearst lawsuit, Condé Nast decided to reform its own internship program. Many speculated that the changes were a result of the lawsuit, or potentially even a fear that the government could begin cracking down on internships in the publishing world.

THE CHANGES Interns aren’t allowed to stay at the company for more than one semester per calendar year unless granted special clearance by Human Resources. Interns are required to complete an orientation with HR where they are told to contact them if they are working unreasonably long hours or are mistreated. Interns can only work until 7pm. Their security badges will actually be modified so that they cannot re-enter the building after 7, making any lateafternoon errands or pickups particularly difficult. Interns are given stipends around $550 for the semester. Interns must receive college credit to be eligible for an internship. Interns will have to have official mentors Interns are only allowed to work on tasks related to the job at hand; personal errands are prohibited.

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C AS E ST UD Y 3

There are a host of other ethical issues involved in this practice such as the fact that universities are relieved of their typical costs of a class. For example, a full time professor and classroom are no longer needed when an internship takes place for credit. The university might have to send a few forms back and forth by email, but the student is largely on his own when completing the internship. Many programs do not require students to show up to a class or meet weekly with a professor.

REAL WORLD

UNIVERSITY POLICIES

Thus, the student is paying the same amount of money as he or she would pay for a normal credit class, to do an unpaid internship through the school in order to graduate. We advocate for a more responsible way of awarding academic credit, such as waiving tuition fees.

THE FACTS

Source: US News and World Report, November 20, 2012

According to the US News and World Report, Clarkson University was ranked the number one school with the most amount of students graduating with internship experience. 86% of 2011’s graduating seniors had completed at least one internship. Statements from the universities indicate that integrating real world experience The in the classroom is rooted in their courses of study.

THE ANALYSIS The article posted on the US News and World Report, a source many trust for the latest information on the best colleges and universities in the nation, infers that universities with a high number of students graduating with internship experience should be praised for preparing their students for the real world.

trouble with completing an internship for “academic credit” is that academic credit is not free.

Nowhere does the article mention the implications of completing an internship for academic credit, or if the school even offers it. This is surprising because many corporations justify unpaid internships by replacing wages with “academic credit,” as if this alone frees them of all their legal responsibility for compensation.

The trouble with completing an internship for “academic credit” is that academic credit is not free. At some private universities, credits can cost several thousand dollars. So an intern is essentially paying money in the form of tuition, to work. That twisted logic is something many interns face nowadays, with some universities going as far as requiring internships before graduation.

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STORY

PER SO NA 1

MICHELLE COLE

Michelle is a junior at Parsons, studying Design and Management. In order for her to graduate, she is required to complete at least one internship, either unpaid or paid. Michelle began to search for her internship, and there were only unpaid internship offerings on her school career job posting board. Nonetheless, she didn’t mind working for free, since she just needed an internship to graduate.

STUDENT

This is someone we feel could benefit from our work...

OUTCOME She ended up interning at Sotheby’s, where she was only asked to run errands. As of today, she has been interning for 4 months, and has 1 more month to finish her internship. She cannot wait to end her internship and receive credit and fill up her resume.

AGE

20

EDUCATION

Parsons School of Design, BBA

INDUSTRY Art

I needed these credits, but I feel like I am paying to work for free.

” 45


STORY Despite the availability of options for people with his qualifications, it was hard for Sean to find en employer who Sean would actually want to work for. After extensive research, he found an internship opportunity at Microsoft, which was his dream job as a kid. Microsoft offered Sean a 1-year internship program with the possibility of a job at the end of their program. Fortunately, the internship program was also paid. It wasn’t a lot, but still it was enough to pay his rent and support himself. He feels fortunate that he has this opportunity to gain his experience and to prepare himself for a better future.

PER SO NA 2

SEAN MATTHEWS This is someone we feel could benefit from our work...

OUTCOME

STUDENT

When Sean completed his internship, he was happy to accept a well-paying job offer from Microsoft in a field of his choice.

AGE

29

EDUCATION

Carnegie Mellon University, MBA

INDUSTRY Software Technology

I was lucky to find a paid internship at a great company. I’m definitely in the minority

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STORY

PER SO NA 3

JAKE HARRISON STUDENT

This is someone we feel could benefit from our work...

Jake accepted unpaid internship position at FX Animation Studio, after graduating from SVA. He majored in 3-D Animation, and he ended up interning at the studio since it is extremely hard to find a job in his field. He thought it would be better to have something on his resume than to have it blank. He worked 10 hours a day, five days week, without getting any paid. He was only in charge of running errands and mundane daily tasks. Although he knew that it was waste of his time and he felt worthless, he did not have any choice but to keep his internship, since there was no job openings.

OUTCOME He’s been interning at the studio about 6 months, and he recently got a parttime job at a restaurant. He is still searching for new job and thinking to continue his internship until he gets hired by other employer.

AGE

22

EDUCATION

School of Visual Arts, BFA

INDUSTRY Graphic Design

I knew without this internship I would not get a job in my field.

” 49


STORY

PER SO NA 4

Kayla accepted unpaid internship position at KCD Public Relations in Manahattan, hoping to gain experience in fashion public relations. She worked 10 hours a day, five days week without getting paid. It was clear that her activities replaced those of the regular employees’. She did it for about 2 months, and then made the decision to move on to find a real job.

KAYLA MEYER This is someone we feel could benefit from our work...

OUTCOME

STUDENT

Luckily, soon after she made this decision, KCD Public Relations called Kayla and told her that they were interested in hiring her as an employee. Kayla accepted their offer and was glad that she had completed internship after all.

AGE

24

EDUCATION

B.B.A from Pittsburg University

INDUSTRY Public Relations

I was so lucky to receive a job offer after my internship!

” 51


STORY Alan is working for Verizon and he recently began hiring interns due to the sluggish economy. He so far has hired two full-time interns, who are both college students and intern three days a week. They are unpaid interns, since the company feels there are more than enough students who are willing to work for free.

PER SO NA 5

ALAN DOYERS

OUTCOME

PROFESSIONAL

This is someone we feel we could use to consult for advice about our work...

AGE

49

EDUCATION

Syracuse University, BBA NYU Stern School of Business, MBA

INDUSTRY Clean Energy

Alan is fully aware that some of the tasks he assigns to interns are not helpful to their careers, but there are no other employees to do the work because the company has reduced the employee workforce. Even though Alan knows this is not fair, he often needs to request errands that are not very meaningful to the interns work experience because he does not have time to do the errands he assigns himself. However, he tries to communicate with his interns often during work hours and gives somewhat important tasks to help them gain experience.

I think interns gain extremely valuable experience working for me. At their age, it’s worth more than money.

” 53


EXP E RT INT E RV I E W 1

SEAN SEIBEL

Q: What kind of interns are you looking for?

PROFESSIONAL

This is someone we feel we could use to consult for advice about our work...

Sean Seibel is a user experience evangelist working for Microsoft. Seibel is a User Experience Strategy and Design professional covering the East Coast. He so far has worked for many Fortune Global 500 companies such as PepsiCo, Western Union, Morgan Stanley, and BMW, and now he is working for Microsoft.

Q: Does Microsoft hire interns? What is the program like? Microsoft does hire interns, but it only offers paid-internships, and the reason behind why is because they “value the interns and their works,” according to Sean Seibel. Microsoft’s main purpose of offering internship programs is to “accelerate their careers and become part of the next generation of key contributors and leaders.” Paying their interns is a way of “investing” in their interns’ career development and it is their hope that those interns eventually land their career on Microsoft. One of the well-known internship programs that Microsoft offers is called MACH (Microsoft Academy for College Hires) Program, which is a 2-3 year experience for full-time students currently in school. They often seek interns in their sophomore to junior years, so that they can gain experiences from Microsoft and be candidates for the future full-time employees at Microsoft. MACH program makes sure that all interns get their chances to “participate on meaningful projects” and to “build tangible work experiences.”

This MACH program is specifically for people who seek for full-time opportunities once they graduate. Their goal is to “hire top-performing graduates” and to “enable a strong start and meaningful contribution to the company with long-term career potential.” Also, unlike other internships other there, especially in New York City, MACH program has specific curriculum for interns. The first year is focused on training, peer monitoring, and other onboarding activities, while the second year is focused on career development.

This MACH program is specifically for people who seek for full-time opportunities once they graduate.

Q: How do you think Microsoft contributes to the goal of internships?

Microsoft is offering not just opportunities for students to gain actual educational experiences through their internship program, but also they pay their interns. The only downside, if there is any, is that it is extremely competitive and hard to be “hired” as interns. Since Microsoft is already a big name to put on resumes and offering this great opportunities, the number of applications that Microsoft gets from all around the world is countless.

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EXP E RT INT E RV I E W 2

KATYA PUPKO STUDENT

This is someone we feel could benefit from our work...

Q: Do you think internships should be a part of an academic curriculum? Why? Maybe only unpaid internships should be part of the curriculum, but students should have freedom to choose if they want a credit for it or not. Hands on experience is most important when looking for a job. It makes it easier to get a job if you have some real work experience, that’s why graduates who are out of school should have it and that’s why it should be part of the curriculum.

Q: How did you find your past internships? Paid internship? Unpaid internship? Unpaid internships - through my school career service. Paid internships – through LinkedIn and direct application for the position on the company’s site.

Q: What is the difference between a paid internship and an unpaid internship in your experience? My attitude is different. I treat my paid internship as a part-time job. I feel more responsibility for the projects I’m working on. Unpaid internships were more for experience, while paid internship for me is the way to get into the company I really want to work at.

Q: What are the advantages/disadvantages about a paid internship? (e.g. work experience, company benefits, long hours, etc.) Advantages of paid internship: Obviously, some money. Sometimes more hours/week – also an advantage for me as it gives an ability to be in the know of what’s going on in the team, and also to show yourself as a dedicated team member. I think I have more serious projects at my paid internship, thus, better work experience.

Q: Do you feel a paid internship motivates you to work better/ harder? Why? Paid internship definitely motivates to work harder. I don’t mind staying late, as I know I’m being paid. Like I said, when I am paid, I treat it like a job, and I want to be good at my job.

When I am paid, I treat it like a job, and I want to be good at my job.

” 57


EXP E RT INT E RV I E W 3

Q: Why do you think internships require school credit?

PROFESSOR JEFFREY RIMAN

Work experience in the form of internship offers students the chance to work while applying their course work in professional environment. Essential and invaluable. I strongly support the schools belief in their value. The challenge is making sure both the student and the host company are working together and working effectively.

This is someone we feel we could consult for advice about our work...

Q: How do you think companies should approach internships, whether paid or unpaid?

ACADEMIC

I think that there may need to be regulation at a higher level.

Q: Have you ever had unpaid interns in your work experience? No

Q: How do you feel when you find out your students have an unpaid internship?

Jeffrey Riman is a professor at Parsons the New School for Design. He has extensive background in project management for marketing, design and advertising agencies. He considers himself an early adopter of technology for creative production. He also serves on the advising boards of several prominent firms.

I am always concerned that the experience is constructive and instructive. Internship implies that a certain amount of learning comes along with direct experience which in turn means that the host company should expect to do a certain amount of instruction while getting the benefit of the students labor. I feel that some form of proportionate compensation even minimum wage or transportation costs helps students to be recognized as contributors while it reminds companies to use the students effectively.

Q: Do you think internships should be a part of academic curriculum? Why? Yes I believe in the concept strongly but their needs to be a clearly defined set of expectations on both sides that is monitored for quality. It can be very challenging to sustain the oversight and monitor performance.

“

The challenge is making sure both the student and the host company are working together and working effectively.

� 59


such as a day off for putting in extra hours, lunch on the boss, or a paid conference? Or when the full-time junior gets a brand-new workstation and they’re expected to lug their personal laptop from home (loaded with bootlegged software no doubt)? Or vice versa, imagine how paid staff feel when work they want to do is assigned to the unpaid newbie, or they want to head home after a long day but the intern is pulling an all-nighter to get the job done…for free? Interns can be distracting enough; unpaid interns can be a real strain on team culture and lead to long-term damage.

EXP E RT INT E RV I E W 4

MARK BUSSE

Q: What advice to you have for firms who currently use unpaid interns ?

PROFESSIONAL

This is someone we feel we could consult for advice about our work...

Mark Busse is a creative professional who has employed a number of unpaid interns throughout his career. Here, he speaks of his change of heart regarding unpaid internships.

Q: How have you typically felt about unpaid internships in the past? I used to be a staunch defender of unpaid internships and advised fellow firm owners and young design grads alike to engage in this time-honoured tradition. I was wrong. So wrong. And I feel quite lousy about it. There is nothing new about this practice or the debate surrounding it. And it’s not unique to the creative workforce—it’s endemic in a bad economy. Some very notable and respected leaders in the design field have endorsed its use for years and continue to do so. But they’re wrong and the practice is harming our industry. The argument I always used to defend unpaid internships was that it was a vital bridge between education and work, and that it also was a costly, time-intensive commitment for any design firm. As an educator, I felt it was part of a young designer’s education akin to an apprenticeship.

Q: What has changed your mind about unpaid internships? These days, typically the only people able to accept unpaid internships are the privileged young supported by their family. How is a young designer buried in student loans, working part time just to survive supposed to show up five days a week for months without pay? That is unreasonable and leaves qualified, hard-working candidates behind, ultimately contributing to class divide. Furthermore, a culture of unpaid internships results in a vetting of candidates who are unwilling to work for free, potentially resulting in candidates not actually being the most qualified. That sort of defeats the purpose, no?

Q: What effects do unpaid internships have on office culture, and more broadly, the economy ? The presence of unpaid interns often results in a negative impact on company culture. Imagine how an intern feels when the paid staff get attractive perks

It’s B.S. when agencies take advantage of young people, claiming their internships are some kind of learning experience when really they are exploitative. This is why companies have junior positions, and I reject any claims that firms can’t afford to train juniors. If you can’t fork over ten bucks an hour for a young designer to contribute to your success, then it’s completely inappropriate for you to lure them with hope and false promises of exposure and experience. Give your head a shake! The fact that there is a long line of willing design students and grads doesn’t make it right. And the fact that the economy is terrible doesn’t make it acceptable. It’s plain laziness if a company doesn’t take advantage of the many government wage-subsidy funding options available. Employers, especially visible leaders in our community, are obligated to demonstrate best practices and need to think hard about the real value of unpaid internships: Are they really in the best interest of the company and our industry? Employers, I implore you to rethink your policies and do the right thing by joining me in protecting the next generation and most vulnerable among us. And for goodness’ sake, pay them at least minimum wage.

Q: What advice to you have for unpaid interns ?

The fact that there is a long line of willing design students and grads doesn’t make it right. And the fact that the economy is terrible doesn’t make it acceptable.

If you are a young designer feeling like you have no alternative in this hyper-competitive industry but to offer yourself as an intern without adequate recompense, think again. Don’t be afraid to ask employers to outline what you’ll be doing, learning, and gaining if not pay. Take the time to identify and pre-register for wage-subsidy funding and offer that to potential employers to make the choice easy for them. Beyond that, be ready to demonstrate how you are precisely the right person for the job and how you can bring value to the organization while learning and paying your dues. If they insist it’s no pay or no opportunity, know that you can take a stand and politely decline.

Source: PFSK.com, April 2013, Mark Busse: Why Unpaid Internships are Harming Creative Business

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EXIST ING S OL U TI ON S

INTERN JUSTICE ONLINE PLATFORM

Legal Options

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WHAT ITS GOALS ARE It will raise awareness amongst interns on what is right and what is wrong. It helps the get their facts straight about their rights as interns as well as the rights that the employer has as well. There are many resources available on the website including contacts to attorneys who specialize in the area of intern rights as well as other press coverage of this topic in the news.

PROS The site provides many legal options available to interns who want to take action. There are several valuable resources clearly avaiable to its readers. The website is also connected to various forms of social media to increase the traffic of the website and to promote connectivity as well as the awareness of the issue. WHAT IT DOES Intern Justice is a public discussion on find justice for unpaid interns. The site helps to spread the word among other interns and discuss the issues involved. Furthermore, the site can connect individual interns who wish to file a lawsuit against a former employer with a lawyer who will take their case.

CONS The site is very general and does not target a specific geographic region or industry. As the site is broad, there is lots of information but nothing generally specific, making it harder to back up a plan for potential change action industry.

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EXIST ING S OL U TI ON S

PAY YOUR INTERNS (PYI) LOCAL CAMPAIGN

Distribution Boxes

Promotional Materials

Slogan T-shirts

WHAT ITS GOALS ARE The campaign aimed to put pressure on employers to pay their interns through the use of a digital platform as well as a in-person campaign. There are takeaways given to raise awareness at several large and important venues for the fashion industry. Overall, the goal is for current employers to start paying their interns in the future.

PROS

WHAT IT DOES The PYI Campaign was a national awareness campaign that used intern swag bags, tote bags, and t-shirts to spread their message: Pay Your Interns! The bags were given out during London Fashion Week, a time with heavy media coverage. The take-aways also included connection to digital media through the use of QR codes as well as conection to websites and Twitter.

The campaign target London-based employers in the fashion industry. They connect directly with their ‘Hashtag’ #devilpaysnada and offers direct contact and information through email to students, employers and educational institutions.

CONS The campaign has thus far only really reached out in London, England. There needs to be more wide-spread coverage as well as capital investment to get this campaign to become more effective.

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EXIST ING S OL U TI ON S

INTERN AWARE/CLAIM BACK YOUR PAY ONLINE CAMPAIGN

The Media page which has a number of short YouTube that can easily be shared via social media or email.

WHAT ITS GOALS ARE Some interns may actually able to get paid for what they offered to the employer

PROS The campaign targets London-based employers in the fashion industry. They allow the intern to contact their previous employer and request backpay, which also raises awarenes in the actual firm who did not pay the intern. This might result in future payment to interns in that company.

CONS WHAT IT DOES The website, internaware.org allows interns to request back pay for previously unpaid work at a company.

Some companies might entirely ignore the interns request. Furthermore, they risk being put on a “blacklist.” This could potentially be used agianst them in their future job search.

RESULTS In May of 2012, Vogue reported that Arcadia sent former unpaid interns back pay for work done up to one year ago. “Following an “internal review” of Arcadia work experience, interns who worked at the company’s head office were recently sent cheques for their labour,” the article mentioned.

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M O T IVAT ION P E R S P E CTI V E S

STAKEHOLDERS

grow GDP encourage hiring to gain taxes strengthen workforce

WHO IS INVOLVED

GOVERNMENT We want to incentivize hiring to grow businesses and the economy

study my field gain experience in my industry

STUDENT I need to get a well-paying job! require student internships monitor learning process

UNIVERSITY We want to prepare our students to enter the workforce

COMPANY grow my business

I should replace my entry level workers with unpaid interns

hire more personnel lower my costs

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I D E AT I O N What did we do with all that research? We created ideas and proposed solutions. We wrote down everything that came to mind, no matter how silly it was. Here are all of our crazy ideations.

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HOLD A PROTEST

LOC AL AND CA MPA I G N - B A SED P LAT FO RM S

EXPLORE THE POSSIBILITIES

SOLUTION IDEATIONS PHONE CASE GIVEAWAY The phone case would be a protective case that would be given out to fit iPhones, most likely, and on it would be information leading to a website where interns could share their experiences and learn more about the legality of unpaid internships. The case would be functional and serve as a constant reminder to make sure the intern is getting the most out of their time as an intern, including pay, if they choose to request it.

We could hold a mass protest in the same way Occupy Wall Street has and march down Seventh Avenue (Fashion Avenue) in protest of unpaid internships. We would have to gather a very large following before this could happen, of course. At this protest, we could pass out informational flyers and other materials so that people could join our cause. It would be a great way to draw attention to the issue at hand.

INFO SESSION Before students enter internship fairs, have a mandatory information session to let them know that they have right to be paid, and it is NOT okay to intern for free unless he or she gets educational experiences and/or school credits in exchange. It would be a nice way to inform both employers and students, but it may create an awkward moment, and employers may not be willing to attend to Internship Fairs anymore.

STICKER POSTINGS AND STREET ADS

BROCHURE GIVEAWAY

This type of campaign would be targeted to a local market, most likely, New York City. We could create eye-catching advertisements to post around the city: on bustops and in the train stations. Furthermore, we could create small stickers similar to the PYI campaign, that people could recognize across the city. These could be placed on things like trash cans, doors, building walls, and street signs in high traffic areas. This would draw attention and cause people to wonder why they kept seeing these stickers everywhere.

Have materials to give out at internship fairs so that people are well aware of what the legality is behind internships. Its nice to have a physical reminder of the rules employers should be adhering to. Even if it just sits on their desk, they might glance at it once in a while. Of course, people can easily throw these things away and choose to not read them.

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LOCATION-BASED WEBSITE People could post about offering an internship. Visitors could see which ones are paid and which are unpaid, and most likely, most would be unpaid. This would highlight the need to take action against unpaid internships, as this would be a great way to show how unpaid internships are the vast majority of internships. It’s a great visual tool to show how prevalent the unpaid internship is.

O NL INE PL ATF OR MS

EXPLORE THE POSSIBILITIES

SOLUTION IDEATIONS START A TWITTER HASHTAG

REVIEW WEBSITE

We would start encouraging people to post their internship horror stories and other bad experiences from poor treatment as interns. We would use the hashtag “#INTERNSWTF” to monitor al the different posts. We could feature the most incredible ones on our website, as a way to draw attention to the unfair treatment of interns. This would hopefully go viral and encourage employers to start paying their interns.

Interns could post reviews of their internships on here, and share what was good and bad about each. This will help future interns when deciding if they want to take an internship at a particular company. They would be able to search by location, industry, or a specific company. However, this would be only effective to spread the words within people who are interested in the topic, since they would have to voluntarily go into the website.

FACEBOOK PAGE

START A PETITION TO LAWMAKERS

Just as what thousands of facebook users did about a month ago in support of gay marriage rights, people could change their facebook profile picture for a day or so to support the rights of interns, and as a way to protest the injustices against them. By constantly seeing the same image, it reinforces the fact that we are coming together to protest this injustice.

We could start an online petition to lawmakers to begin enforcing the rights of interns and making sure they are adequatly paid if the internship qualifies as legal. If not, we wish for lawmakers to adjust the law so more people will realize that interns deserve to be paid.

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PROTOTYPE After we took so many great ideas, we had to narrow it down to one strong cohesive solution that encompassed all we were working towards. This section describes that special result in depth.

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PROP O SE D S OL U TI ON

REAL PLATFORM

#INTERNSWTF CAMPAIGN TWITTER We would like to build momentum on our campaign by launching a viral hashtag called #INTERNSWTF. Interns across the country could hashtag their tweets of horror stories and other bad experiences they’ve had while interning. This would lead them to our own Twitter account, which could then direct them to our website.

WEBSITE Upon arrival to the website, they will be further introduced to what our movement is. Interns can use a form to rate their experience at a particular internship. They can also search for internship ratings by industry, location and company size. This will be helpful to other students who may want to intern at their company in the future. They can post anonymously of course, to preserve their public reputation. Furthermore, there will be informational links on the site so people are well aware of what constitutes a legal internship. If they wish to take action, there is a legal page, where they can contact a lawyer. They can also choose to join our online petition against illegal internships.

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PROP O SE D S OL U TI ON

REAL PLATFORM

#INTERNSWTF CAMPAIGN

RESULTS After selecting a particular company, the results appear. An average number of stars is shown based on the data we have. The number of reviews will be posted as well, so the viewer knows whether this is just one person who had a bad experience, or this is a combination of hundreds. Quotes will be pulled from each review and listed below each question. If a person wants to read more responses to a particular topic, they have the option to do so.

SEARCHING When a visitor goes to search for an internship, they can search by location, industry or company.

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PROP O SE D S OL U TI ON

REAL PLATFORM

#INTERNSWTF CAMPAIGN REVIEWING AN INTERNSHIP When a visitor goes to review an internship they’ve completed, they are directed to this page. Here we ask them to provide at least a rating of their internship based on a 5-star scale, with 5 as the highest and 1 as the lowest. The other fields are not required but we do ask them to list specific tasks they completed, the friendliness of the employees and whether they believed their internship was a valuable experience. This last question is open-ended enough that they can put in their own comments if they wish to.

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SCALE Who can predict the future? We can. Here’s where we see our ideas going in the near future and beyond. We want to see our ideas implemented around the country and across the globe. Think we can do it? Read on.

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FUTUR E PR OJ E CTI ON S

WHY WE CHOSE THIS SOLUTION

IMMEDIATE GOALS

We picked this solution because we thought it would be a great way to grab people’s attention and it serves as a great starting platform to address a much larger issue. We believe this solution is manageable as a group of young students, and feel that it has the potential to grow and change current policies. As we stated earlier, the problem is that interns are not getting paid, and one of many reasons why is because both employers and students are not aware that unpaid internships are unethical and illegal. Therefore, we thought that it was the best to inform employers and students to be aware of the U.S. Department of labor regulations and to let them know under what circumstances it is okay to employ an unpaid intern.

The immediate advantage to this system is to raise awareness about illegal unpaid internships. It will serve as a therapeutic place for people to vent about the experiences they’ve had, and conversely, rejoice in the value of a successful and informative internship. Secondly, after reviews are posted, the database will serve as a guide for future interns and make sure they are better informed when they select a company to intern for. If they see online that a company is notorious for over-working their interns and treating them poorly, perhaps the intern will choose to intern somewhere else. Hopefully, companies will notice this and start implementing policies which protect interns from unfair treatment.

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FUTUR E PR OJ E CTI ON S

W HAT THIS SOLUTION MEANS FOR THE FUTURE

SHORT TERM GOALS In the short term, we would like the U.S. Department of Education to require all colleges to give information session about internship programs to employers before Internship Fairs so they are aware of the current laws in place. Students, universities and employers will be well-versed in the regulations as imposed in the Fair Labor Standards Act before entering an internship. A takeaway will be given to remind everyone of the 6 criteria to determine a valid unpaid internship. It will be reiterated that employers are required by law to pay their interns unless their internship program meets those criteria. This must be given to every intern before he or she begins their internship. For those employers who pay their interns, the Department of Labor could give them a virtual badge for their website, displaying something such as “We Pay Our Interns,” to emphasize that they value their interns. Furthermore, the US government should give these employers a tax break to encourage more companies to begin paying their interns.

LONG TERM GOALS Long term, we would like to rework the current laws in place under the Fair Labor Standards Act. We would like to ban unpaid internships entirely, as companies have shown that they cannot responsibly differentiate between an educational internship and exploitative labor. We aim to bring this awareness and new generation of educational and paid internships to not only a New York City wide level, but also to bring this to the national level and work with legislature to make unpaid internships illegal and to ensure that internships are educational experiences. For the most part now, internships are beneficial to the ‘employer’ and interns are not receiving fair treatment. We strive to see a change in the near future over how internships are organized.

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THANK YOU


PARSONS STRATEGIC DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT ROBERT RABINOVITZ MAY 2013

#InternsWTF  

Human Rights: arising problems with unpaid internships

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