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Friday, April 15, 2011


An earlier post dealt with federal policy on internship programs. Today, Inside Higher Ed reports:

Colleges want to graduate seasoned workers who've had myriad internship opportunities, but can’t always tell which internships are legitimate and don’t want to scare off potential employers by cracking down on what they offer.

Well-meaning businesses want productive interns, but many say they can’t afford to pay them anymore.

Ross Perlin, a veteran of the unpaid internship and a researcher for the Himalayan Languages Project, in China, decided three years ago to investigate some of the issues that arise when these conflicting interests collide. What he found can be inferred through the title of his new book – Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy (Verso).


“I do think that schools have to look at what they’re doing in terms of promoting unpaid, unstructured opportunities at for-profit companies that seem to be illegal under U.S. labor law,” Perlin said. “It’s something that we really need to pay attention to, and is a contributor at the deepest level to widening inequality.”

There is less controversy surrounding structured internships in government and the nonprofit sector. Here are examples of such programs in Washington, DC: