Fight back against illegal unpaid internships!

Source: Susannah Griffee, USA TODAY Collegiate Correspondent4:23 p.m. EDT May 8, 2013

NYU sophomore has gathered 1,000 student signatures on a petition to have a campus career center remove illegal unpaid internship postings.

Would you ever work up to 40 hours a week for free?

That’s what many college students do. It’s called the unpaid internship.

New York University sophomore Christina Isnardi is publicly pushing back against the trend of unpaid internships by petitioning the NYU Wasserman Career Center to remove illegal unpaid internship postings on its job search website, CareerNet.

The idea came about when she and another NYU sophomore, Rachel Whitbeck, were discussing their unpaid internships.

“For me, it was through personal experience,” said Isnardi. “I took two unpaid internships advertised by the school, and both were exploitative on two different extremes. For one of these internships, I was literally performing my boss’ job for him and I was denied pay. For another internship, I found myself only performing menial tasks, such as pressing elevator buttons and going on coffee runs. For both internships, I was treated like an employee and did not receive compensation for my work.”

When Isnardi talked to Whitbeck about her experiences, she found that Whitbeck couldn’t even take those internships, because she couldn’t afford to work for free.

“We realized that the problems we faced could be partially fixed if the current labor laws set out by the U.S. Department of Labor under the Fair Labor Standards Act were enforced, and at least minimum wage was given to interns who were doing the work of employees,” said Isnardi.

The Fair Labor Standards Act sets forth the following six criteria for an unpaid internship to be legal:

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.

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

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.

6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

Although the Wasserman Career Center has been receptive to the petition, Isnardi said the center is hesitant to remove even illegal unpaid internships because it thinks it also will be removing opportunities for some students to break into their professional fields.

RELATED: How to tweet yourself to an internship (from students who did it)

OPINION: Unpaid internships reinforce American inequality

However, Isnardi cites a recent study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers that shows that 36% of graduates received at least one job offer, compared with 37% of graduates who were unpaid interns and 60% of graduates who were paid interns. According to this survey, having an unpaid internship increases your likelihood of getting a job by only 1%.

So far, Isnardi has 1,000 signatures on her petition from NYU students.

However, she urges students to take the initiative to help solve the unpaid internship problem.

“First, students can fight illegal unpaid internships by simply not taking them. We must become aware of our rights as interns and recognize that we are perpetuating our own exploitation,” said Isnardi. “Another way is through lawsuits. There are millions of unpaid interns who can file lawsuits, and if enough interns seek justice, the system may be brought down. Finally, more pressure needs to be put on local, state, and federal governments to enforce the labor laws that they wrote into law.”

Susannah Griffee is a Spring 2013 USA TODAY Collegiate Correspondent. Learn more about her here.


Published by:


Edulab is an endeavor by Edutrotters Private Limited which is modeled for individuals who understand the importance of being a global citizen. We are profit organization with underlining social objectives, to provide intercultural learning and career solutions. What others consider as cultural gaps we see them as opportunities to Experience, Learn and Grow. Our Mission ‘To help people gain international learning experience, and develop skills for living in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world.’ For any queries write to us:

Categories UncategorizedTags , , , , , 20 Comments

20 thoughts on “Fight back against illegal unpaid internships!”

  1. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on
    the video to make your point. You obviously
    know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your site when you could be giving us something informative to read?

  2. Excellent items from you, man. I’ve consider your stuff previous to and you are simply extremely fantastic. I really like what you’ve acquired right here, really like what
    you are saying and the way in which by which you are saying it.
    You’re making it entertaining and you still care for to keep it smart. I cant wait to learn far more from you. This is actually a great website.

  3. An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a co-worker who was conducting a little homework on this. And he actually ordered me lunch because I discovered it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to talk about this topic here on your web site.

  4. Hi there, I found your website via Google even as searching for a similar subject,
    your web site came up, it looks great. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.
    Hello there, simply was alert to your blog thru Google, and located that it is truly informative. I’m gonna watch out for brussels.
    I will be grateful when you proceed this in future. A lot of people will be benefited from your writing.

  5. Pingback: carry underwoods
  6. Hello, There’s no doubt that your site could possibly be having internet browser compatibility issues. When I look at your website in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in IE, it has some overlapping issues. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Aside from that, excellent site!

  7. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something.

    I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a little
    bit, but instead of that, this is fantastic blog. A fantastic read.
    I’ll certainly be back.

  8. You are so interesting! I don’t believe I’ve read something
    like that before. So nice to discover somebody with
    some unique thoughts on this issue. Seriously.

    . thank you for starting this up. This web
    site is one thing that is needed on the web, someone
    with some originality!

    1. Thank you for your comment. We are glad we could be of help to you & provided you some exciting stuff to read. Stay tuned for more information 🙂

  9. Great goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you are just extremely great. I actually like what you have acquired here, certainly like what you’re
    stating and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still care for to keep it wise.

    I can’t wait to read much more from you. This is really a terrific website.

  10. Thanks for the auspicious writeup. It actually was a entertainment
    account it. Glance advanced to far added agreeable from you!

    However, how could we be in contact?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s