Everyone Doesn’t Get to Live the Dream

by Demetria L. Lucas

It’s timely for me that The Cut would broach the topic of how interns are treated. My latest one, my third, started on Monday. With her arrival, I’d been thinking about writing an essay called something like “How to Train and Treat Your Intern”. I planned to solicit stories from all my friends – anonymous, of course—about their experiences and how bosses could improve. I thought is necessary since most who have help are not given formal training on what to do—or not. Interns get treated pretty much however the person they are working for was— good, bad, and at times, super ugly.

But then Kayleen Schaefer wrote a fascinating story about former Harper’s Bazaar intern Diana Wang who is suing the Bazaar parent company, Hearst Corporation, for violating federal and state labor laws since they did not pay her for her work. Her attorneys want Hearst to pay its former interns “back wages, overtime, and other damages.” Her suit, has become a class action one. My idea, went to the  back burner.

Wang described her four-month internship as a “horrible” and “outrageous” experience. She worked five days a week from 9AM to 8PM and her pretty standard duties were to “track the thousands of purses, shoes, and pieces of jewelry lent to the magazine for photo shoots. She managed as many as eight other interns, sending them on 30 to 40 errands a day, and helping them file expense reports. She answered the accessories director’s phone, writing the caller’s name and holding it up, so her boss could decide whether or not to take the call.”

Her tales of woe include the night she stayed late at the office after everyone left to unpack “a trunk full of accessories, tissue-wrapped piece by tissue-wrapped piece, to dig out a single misplaced necklace. Or the practical agony of getting through a subway turnstile with seven shopping bags in her hands. She chafed at tasks unrelated to the magazine’s operations, like hand-delivering new outfits to editors between Fashion Week shows.”

Despite her “E” for effort, Wang was not offered a job at the end of her internship, and her editor declined to write a recommendation, which means Wang wasn’t so great at her duties or her editor was straight up evil. Both are possible.  Hearst has derided the lawsuit as “without merit.”

Why? Probably because what Wang describes is a walk in the @#$%ing park.

This is the part where I’m supposed to go an old folks-like rant. You know how they describe how hard things were “way back when” and how kids “nowadays” don’t understand struggle or hard work. I’ll pass. Let’s just say Wang wouldn’t have lasted a day at Vibe or Oneworld or Time Out New York, all magazines where I interned and where working long hours for free, completing mind-numbingly frustrating (but necessary) tasks—you don’t know hell until you’re tasked with, on deadline, transcribing a two-hour interview with multiple speakers and all of them sound like they’re whispering — and catering to every editor’s competing whim was par for the course.

Let’s focus instead on what Wang missed, but will never realize because she gave up and didn’t make it far enough in The Industry to have an intern of her own. Interning – the long hours for little or no pay, the meager duties, the swallowing of pride (it is impossible not to be humble when as a college student or graduate, one of your duties requires you to stand at a copier for 3 hours)—is a necessary rite of passage.

At the beginning of each season, loads of bright –eyed students cross magazine thresholds, dreaming of getting a byline and turning their government name into a brand. What most don’t know until they arrive is all that glitters is not proverbial gold. There is an extraordinary amount of work and personal sacrifice and humility that goes into filling the glossy pages of your favorite magazines. As an editor, there’s the 2500 feature that was assigned at the last-minute that you researched and interviewed all those people for, then dutifully wrote, and then suddenly its cut. You’re lucky if it runs as a 300-word blurb in the front of the book. There’s the dressing down by a celebrity publicist, who represents near every A-lister and holds so much leverage, who is ticked at an image you ran of their client and threatens not to let others appear in your pages, much less that particular celebrity ever again. Whether it’s your fault or not, imagine explaining that to your boss when you know everyone likes to shoot the messenger. There are the never-ending meetings where you’re expected to pull ideas out your @ss because your higher up, who can shoot the side-eye of death, won’t let you leave until you produce a worthy idea, which means the ones that you’ve spent the last two weeks thinking of was time wasted. You can experience all this before Wednesday.

One of the purposes of an internship, from the intern’s perspective, should be to see the dream up close and decide if what’s behind the Wizard’s curtain is actually what you want. And if it’s not, that’s fine. Understand that your supervisor, in any stressful and fast-paced career, is evaluating you as much on your ability to do the work (if you got the internship, you’ve proven you can produce something of quality) as your ability to handle all the bullsh@#! that comes with the hard-won glitz. Your supervisor wants to see if you’re there for the “flashing lights” or if you’re willing and able to grind for the few and far between grandiose moments. You don’t get the privilege of being “[insert your name here] from [insert publication here]” and all the perks that can come with it without proving you can handle the headaches of being on the masthead. That’s actually what your internship is for. And your editor can’t know if you can handle the pressure if you’re there for the right reasons if you haven’t demonstrated the ability.

Those humbling, mediocre tasks that screw with your ego are actually necessary for the job. It doesn’t feel like it at the time, but they are teaching you something if you’re smart enough to open your eyes and observe what’s going on around you.

In between standing at the copier for hours at Vibe, I figured out how to pitch a story and get my first national byline.  At Oneworld, where I was once tasked with, in teen-degree weather, of running around to various record stores to find an obscure, limited edition CD so that the photo editor could use the art in a story, I learned that writing well is more than a good hook and flipping a witty sentence, but actually having substance—a trait that a surprising number of published writers haven’t yet mastered. At Time Out New York, where my main duty was The Most Boring Job on Earth, ie, sorting through the mail and the hundreds of faxes they received daily, I learned how to decipher what was relevant to the audience. No one ever explained to me the purpose of my presence, I figured it out, and I realized long after the internship was over the priceless value of what I’d picked up just by being present.

An internship—even unpaid– is the opportunity of a lifetime for a person just starting out. Whether the tasks are endlessly Google-ing obscure facts or tissue wrapping precious baubles or giving your boss a head’s up of who’s on the phone, it’s still a front row seat at the How We Run This Operation show. You see the key players in action and if you are smart and/or borderline observant, you pick up the traits of how to get ahead in and stay in the game. It’s not about getting a job in the end, it’s about learning the ropes and getting a mentor who will connect you and advocate for you for the rest of your professional life. If you get the priceless chance to have and you can’t learn anything from it, that’s on you.  Perhaps one of the hundreds of other applicants who applied for the spot and didn’t get it may have made more use of the experience.

Unfortunately, everyone doesn’t get to live the dream. If you are privileged and squander the opportunity, or worse, like Wang, don’t even realize when one has been handed to you, you don’t deserve entry into the world you thought you belonged in.

Demetria L. Lucas the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. ABIB is available to download and now in paperback. Follow her on Twitter at @abelleinbk

Image Credits: The Cut/Glamazons Blog

  • http://AirInDanYell.tumblr.com Erin

    I’m in the Broadcast industry… luckily the internship experiences I had during college were great! No one was rude, I learned a large amount about what I wanted to do and what I didn’t want to do, and although I didn’t get paid, it really helped me get the position I have today. I think broadcasting is a way more relaxed medium behind the scenes than what I’ve heard about the magazine industry AND my hours were the best! I guess you just have to hope you get selected to this best ones and luckily know that even if they are bad, they won’t last forever.

  • http://twitter.com/lmdub19 name. (@lmdub19)

    I, too, read the article about Ms. Wang and concluded that she was acting out because she just couldn’t cut it. I figured she should be grateful for the experience and therefore willing to do whatever it took. Then, I sat back and thought about my own profession–the law. Legal interns (called summer associates) at big firms (the Hearts of the business) make somewhere around $3K a week. Finance interns stand to make a lot too. With this in mind, I’ve been trying to pinpoint what it is about the entertainment and publishing industries that distinguishes them from those on Wall St. It can’t be that fashion and magazine interns are working any less than those in finance or the law. Is there something to be said for the glitz and the perks of the former? Do companies exploit young people’s (really all people’s) visceral desire to be near the lights? Does that same desire compel the interns to accept low wages and bad treatment? I’d love to hear what people have to think.

  • Kacey

    I completely reject this idea that people have to “pay their dues” to break into an industry by being made to suffer humiliation and degradation at the whim of sadistic company employees who see it as a sport for their own amusement. It is very much a form of hazing and is unbecoming of any professional, in any firm, in any industry.

    I’m grateful that my internship experience was the complete opposite of this.

  • http://socoolandtrendy.wordpress.com socoolandtrendy

    This is such a difficult topic. As someone aspiring to be in the fashion industry I have had two internships and two very different experiences. Any internship is HARD- especially in the fashion industry where deadlines are crucial and workdays go on until all tasks are completed. With my first internship my main problem was not with the work but with how I was treated. The employees in my department were often very rude to interns and this was recognized THROUGHOUT the company. There was a running joke about how many of our interns quit and I was one of the few to finish the program. Although it wasn’t a completely positive experience, I learned a lot and I appreciate the opportunity I was given.

    My second internship was with a smaller company and I performed many of the same tasks.The difference I felt was the respect that my supervisors gave me as a person. I feel that Ms. Wang should not complain about the tasks she was given: all interns go through that. It is par for the course. However, if she was treated unjustly she should speak up. She should also bear in mind that companies are not required to offer employment to interns when the internship ends.

    As for payment. Ahhhh wouldn’t that be nice haha. It only makes sense that people get paid for their work but such is life and the industry we work in. But if Diana REALLY had a problem with what was going down she could have been a big girl and put in her two weeks. Like all other employment, an internship is at will. If you don’t like what’s happening, then you can quit… she didn’t so it must not have been that bad.

  • trisha

    I totally disagree with this article first of all just because some ppl have to slave away doesnt mean thats okay i worked as an intern at a well known fashion mag in new york. I was blessed to have the opportunity as a black girl but when i arrived i saw that one younger intern was getting paid and as my fam had to pay for my housing and i went to work at a restaurant in the even time i putnon my reeboks while the others where in mizrahi and putting naomis outfit back in the garment closet..i was in my restaruant uniform in the bathroom as other chilled and got to meet and greet one another at the concerts at night developed key relationships while i had to work two jobs…! One of which i was not being paid. They didnt owe me a job and surelybwouldnt give me one when me my black self and my poverty didnt fit in. That is not paying dues that is injustice i did far more then others and i dont have a job at this magazine i am temping. so i respectfully disagree

  • Sweetles

    You know, I thought of hazing when I read this article too. In college my major was Biology, and I loved my internships. I am thankful for the positive experiences because I never had much tolerance with someone treating me like sh*t.

  • trisha

    Grateful is good but you should either get experience you can use or be paid accordingly free labor is no go. Thanks.

  • trisha

    I totally agree with you. You shoukd b paid for your labor if the company is benefitting. Slave labor is never cool

  • trisha

    It reminds me of that mother kelly who is in jail for putting her child in a better school district.whether she was wrong or right most blacks didnt immigrate so how many sacrifices should one make simply to have a good job and education. Thats unjust if you ask me. Sorry wang may not b the poster child for injustice but many companies take advantage esp in fashion and entertainment been there done that..

  • Quianna

    I didn’t read anything here that amounted to interns being humiliated or degraded by a boss. Running errands for the fashion department or sending clothes back to the company is hardly humiliating or degrading.

    The bad part of hazing is the physical abuse, sleep deprivation and the danger that students have experienced. That’s the part people object to. Interns working long hours alongside their employers is not hazing. It’s preparation for a a magazine job.

  • African Mami

    Thank you very much!

    An internship is supposed to give a candidate valuable experience! I’m grateful that all my internship experiences were great and did not involve taking someone’s menstrual discomforts!

  • cosmicsistren

    I completely agree because I don’t agree with the article either. Demetria writes what should go on when you intern. However, my experience wasn’t like that at all. I remember waiting on line to cash an executives check, going to McDonalds to get executives lunch, being screamed at, being called “intern” when that is not my name. I hope that woman wins the lawsuit so it sends a message to other companies to treat their interns with respect and not as slaves.

  • apple

    this article is stupid and a bit heartless.. i have worked in the fashion industry as an intern and i know that several parts of the industry are ABUSING and exploiting free labor with no intend of hiring anyone unless they are related/know someone in the industry that will give them the job.. i worked at a must-not-be-named fashion magazine where 15 PEOPLE WERE FULL TIME WORKERS, and 30-50 interns were doing most of the work for free. There was one girl who was interning for A YEAR ,in hopes she would get a job there because she knew how to do everything by that time and only holding on in hopes it would happen when i check the masthead a year later she was still an intern. i met another girl who was interning for TWO YEARS as a receptionist (and pretty much office manager) in hopes she would get hired because she knew how to do everything efficiently. Interns of yesterday aren’t the same. where you will gain useful knowledge but instead errand girls (think devil wears prada except you won’t get a job offered in the end) and possibly go somewhere, now girls just go to more internships and more internships and never get paid in hopes they will one day get lucky. and the broke ones eventually go back home because they can’t afford to pay to work anymore (you paid 2k rent,food,transportation,you are essentially paying to work).. i think diana has a good case because their are tons more like her who will go on more than four months and after a year or two of free labor still find themselves UNEMPLOYED.

  • DHuxtable

    This article is absolutely ridiculous and doesnt take into account that these are very different times from when Demetria was interning. I am in this industry and my entire coworking staff is ten years older than me and continues to talk about “the good times” ten years ago. The economy has taken a turn and that needs to be acknowledged. “Paying your dues” doesn’t necessarily mean just going through hell a couple of semesters anymore and then getting your job. It means unpaid internship after unpaid internship after begging your parents that help me one more time I think I’ll get paid in this one but I need these contacts and experiences so PLEASE.

    I know magazines that function off a TEAM of unpaid interns and its disgusting. I never complain about work but I complain about not being paid and Wang indubitably should be paid. I think this needs to be addressed because when this generation is shelving out hundreds of thousands for education and not being paid for work when they are trying so hard to lift themselves out of debt, thats inhumane. Nobodys complaining about being hazed, we just need compensation for WORK, even minimum wage.

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  • Shar

    Back in the day an internship was a foot in the door to a career or job. Now it’s just a way for companies to get free labor. I’ve had internships that were really entry level positions that I or someone should have been getting paid for. Most of it is one big scam. Like how all these magazines or online sites want writers to write for “experience” and “recognition”. It’s bull. Also, internships just keep the rich rich, and the poor poorer. What adult do you know who can afford to work full time for free?? Rich white(or of color) people that is who. I had some internships in college and I was able to work just a few days a week, cause you know, I’m grown and had bills to pay. But I had to let a whole lot of other opps pass me by because I simply could not afford to work full-time for free. Between paying bills AND paying for college now I have to work for free for the POSSIBILITY of a letter of rec or connection. Man, I’m telling you, owning your own business is where it is at.

  • trisha


  • ?!?

    Wow. That’s crazy and sad? It reminds me of Emily from Devil Wears Prada. At least she and Andy were paid even though it was not much.

  • Rachelle

    My internship was different but I definitely learned a lot from it. My boss was a man who sexually harassed me and had me working late hours and doing tasks that weren’t in my job description. It was a up and coming magazine and I was bright eyed and bushy tailed just like most interns. I had dreams of making that internship my own and impressing my boss. Wrong. I wanted the opportunity but not while being sexually harassed. Needless to say, I quit. The entire experience made me feel as though I would never be anyone’s intern again. I learned a great deal from the experience but I hate that so many employers ruin young people’s dreams. No dream is ever how we truly imagine it but damn.

  • luverly

    Tell it!

  • Rachelle

    I agree 100%. Companies take advantage of and even prey on interns. I don’t know many people who can afford to work those slave hours and still be able to take care of themselves and have a roof over their heads and food on the table. I think some internships are a joke. Not all, but a lot of them. I want my own business and I am currently researching to get it going.

  • bijoux

    @Kacey and @AfricanMami Thank YOU!!!..I have interned at one of these magazines as well, and I must say, we didn’t really learn anything. Basically, we were hired as “messengers” so the companies could cut on messenger services as well. Demetria, I understand “paying your dues” but I think the line between “paying dues” and being taken advantage of, is blurred in this industry. Truth is, the term “intern” in this industry, is simply a person who does all your dirty work for FREE, without LEARNING anything under the COVER of experience. As I mentioned on The Cut blog, the only thing I learned at this prestigious magazine in Manhattan was the subway system.

  • http://abelleinbk.com belle/demetria

    Things haven’t changed really as much as you think. I also had three internships, as stated in the article, semester after semester after semester as a grad student and called home countless times asking my parents to be patient and help because i was “thisclose” to making it. I did not get a job at any of the magazines I interned for, but I did freelance for them for years after and the connections still work a decade later.

    The economy sucked about like now in NYC when I was a mag intern. Sept 11 happened while I was in school and budgets were obliterated. The “golden age” was actually the mid to late 90s when everyone still had expense accounts and magazines didn’t look like pamphlets. I got in my field on the tail end when budgets were drying up. Interns have always made the industry go ’round.

    I haven’t been an intern in over a decade, but I’ve had multiple interns at the places I’ve worked and I’ve had three personal interns for the business I run. I’m on the other side, but I can still see how it works.

    It would have been great to get paid as an intern, no doubt. But even if you don’t, the connects and experience are priceless. If you’re built for the industry, you should be able to make something of the opportunity.

  • K

    This article comes off as very condescending. Demetria repeats numerously how she “figured it out” and was “smart enough” to “get the lesson” so is she implying that every other intern who fails is not smart?? furthermore i pretty much agree with everyone else, even if they are interns and there are long hours there are LABOR LAWS for this sort of thing, just because you are an intern doesnt mean all sense of the law goes out of the window. I say law because the extremely long hours are egregious especially w/o compensation and IF they were a paid employee it would not go down like that. folks who want “free” Interns should in the least get a little wage as waiters and waitress or at best minimum wage . Also as many others stated, they use interns for free menial labor and teach them nothing that will be useful for future employment in that chosen industry. I do believe we all should be observant of our surrounding and soak in information but that is not and should not be the ONLY way to learn as an intern. Finally I would like to say, not everyone comes from a “decent” (for lack of a better word) background. if you come from a poorer family that lacks education adn grew up in the hood, when was the last time those people were ever in a corporate or industry environment to even know “the game” being played in this industries, which seems to be and Demetria seems to agree “suck it up, do everything your told ,work 15 hours a day for free, do everything they ask while you are humiliated and demeaned oh and dont forget to be “smart enough” to observe everyone who is treating you crappy so you can be like them someday”

  • http://twitter.com/_sugahoney suga (@_sugahoney)

    I initially agreed that internships are how you need to pay your dues if that is required for your industry, but reading the comments and reactions in other articles and on twitter, it does seem to reek of hazing, ESPECIALLY with the sentiment of “If I had to go through it, then you have to go through it too.” Sounds more like tradition than anything, especially when you act like you can’t get your foot in the door without doing months and months of work for free while being disrespected. If you’re acting like there is no other way to get your foot in the door, and this is the way it’s always done, how is it any different than the attitudes surrounding hazing?

    Oh and Quianna, hazing has a lot to do with mental abuse, as well. It’s not defined as just physical.

    Wang does come across as a whiner though, so I’m on the fence regarding her particular situation, but as a whole, the interning situation may need to be re-examined if people are being consistently disrespected and treated as slaves.

  • Nata

    Great article. I think what people fail to realize is that internships are what YOU make of them. If you are at an organization that is only giving you what you consider mindnumbing tasks, then you have to search out your own opportunities for growth. And despite the tasks an internship is a place to meet, network, and make good impressions with people who have influence. So yes you may not get hired there, but these people will make good references. We may not understand the process or see the value in it as we are going through it, but lots of times there is hidden value. Which is what I think the author was trying to express.

    Also as someone who now hires interns (paid ones). I stress to them to seek out opportunities. Take the opportunity not to just edit papers for mistakes but to read and understand the subject matter. Learn and grow as much as you can while here.

    This is a generation of entitlement and right now results. Everybody wants to start out on top and getting paid. The level of entitlement just doesn’t make sense.

  • Muse

    So ture about finance interns. I work at a major investment bank and summer interns get paid 80k. Considering, publishing/fashion/entertainment interns do the same amount of work, if not more, it’s only fair that they are compensated for their work.

    Everyone has to earn their stripes and pay their dues but “Industry” interns are boarder line HAZED! I wouldn’t be surprised if some are forced to address the boss as Big Brother AlmighTY

  • GlowBelle

    THANK YOU x 10000!

  • GlowBelle

    This article is ridiculous and so very one-sided. Being an intern in 2012 is different from when the author was an intern, please be aware. I’m sick of people from the “good old days” when the economic wasn’t the crap hole it is now telling people from my generation who got their degrees and were handed a pack of lies in tow, how to work to “pay them dues”, and that being an intern is an opportunity of a lifetime.

    How can you “pay them dues” when you can’t even get to the building that houses that door to get your foot in? I’m even having a difficult time FINDING an internship that will progress me because everyone is now out for free labor. Like Shar stated above lots of entry level jobs are disguised as internships, and you come across scam after scam and it discourages you at every turn.

    I’m in journalism and it is a struggle. I’ve done un-paid internship after un-paid internship and gotten similar treatment like Wang. One woman I “worked” for even TOOK two of my articles and put HER name on them, and had zero clue about how to even run a magazine. I knew more than her, would probably have taken her job, and oh yeah, she didn’t pay me a lick. That’s not ‘paying dues’, that’s called ‘being taken advantage of’.

    I now work an internship at an online mag now and it’s better treatment, better assignments, but sadly, I ain’t getting a dime for the work I put into it. I am lucky to get a reference from my boss who is nice and the “experience”, but I know can’t stay at that position for long. I can’t stay an unpaid intern for five more years, I have to get somewhere, get paid for all that I put in so I can live MY life and stop living off my parents. I feel for Wang, she was working, working HARD, and was promised something and didn’t get it, she was even denied a recommendation, not much less a job offer…and that is wrong.

  • http://twitter.com/TheSoulMemoirs The Soul Memoirs™ (@TheSoulMemoirs)

    I was given two great internships. One experience was amazing. I learned so much that summer. The other was horrific. The woman I interned for was an emotional tyrant. Regardless the experience, positive or negative, I feel that an internships can only help a person. Especially when it is at a major company.

  • http://twitter.com/lmdub19 name. (@lmdub19)

    I agree. As I think about it more, I’m more inclined to be be against what goes on in the fashion and publishing industries. I say this because another commenter made me see this as a class mobility issue. I think the current system fosters nepotism and denies access to minority and lower class students who simply cannot afford to do these jobs under any circumstances. Even those of us who “paid our dues” should be mindful of our own privilege to be able to do so. Dare I say, unpaid internships in these fields likely contribute to the lack of diversity, which is a shame. And I do not believe for a second that the phenomenon is completely unintentional.

  • K

    oh and to add to my statements about the law because im reading the law and other article after i wrote my comment, i didnt even know that the labor department had guidelines that state “unpaid internships must be for educational benefits”… i would like to ask Demetria and others who share that mentality if during their time in school ….During a math lesson, did the teacher have them sorting books all day and all the students watched the teacher do math problems. the students then according to her have to “figure it out” on there own that they are also suppose to be watching the teacher do math because thats how they learn …this is essentially what she is saying about her time as an intern. you may do menial tasks but you are suppose to be smart enough to be observant to watch the masters and learn. Last time I checked education [benefit] included actual teaching, not watching

  • Muse

    A lot of her articles tend to be condescending…

  • Apple

    The point isn’t starting at the bottom and rising to the top the point is starting the bottom and staying there . Wake up

  • cocochanel31

    Well welcome to ther real world! Many people WORK in jobs and CAREERS and are treated as interns, overworked and underpaid. As long as you aspire to work for someone else or just work for someone else period..you will have to put up with the BS that they dish out. It’s the way of the world..no job situation is perfect.even if on paper it is! People are fickle and you never know the type of environment you will intern/work in even with all the preparation in the world.

  • edub

    Only on clutch would this get a negative comment! I agree with you 100%. An internship is an opportunity. The benefits that stem from that opportunity are completely up to you.

  • http://gravatar.com/honeybfly1980 Isis

    I agree with this article. I would love a paid or unpaid internshi bc I wanna make a career change. I would be grateful for any opportunity

  • CulturallyAware

    Very well written author! Thank you for sharing!

  • DHuxtable

    Underpaid is different from being not paid or paying to work ie transportation

  • cocochanel31

    @DHuxtable – you know before you sign up for the internship whether it’s paid or not. Many are for college credit ONLY and clearly state that. If you want to get paid then DON’T WORK UNPAID INTERNSHIPS! Outside of highly compensated fields, ie.finance, IT, law etc ..you are going to HAVE to start off at the bottom and work your way up. It’s just the way it is, not fair, but that’s how it is. I say get all of your unpaid INTERNSHIPS taken care of in college, that way when you graduate you can try to find a PAYING job. If college students need money, an internship is not going to help them, they should probably do a workstudy job . These are the things I did. Hell I left a full time job with benefits to intern at my dream company, the pay was low but at least we did get paid., and thankfully I was able to live with my parents at the time. I wound up working at that same company full time for four years. My point is you do what you have to do ! If you don’t like it or want it, don’t intern and look for a JOB!

  • Whatever

    I thought this article was ridiculous as well. If you aren’t getting school credit or being paid then it is not an internship in the first place. Second, if you are getting school credit, there are guidelines that need to be followed. Paid employees work overtime, not interns. She doesn’t have to pay any damn dues by doing above and beyond in order to gain experience. What exactly does one learn from doing grunt work anyway?

    I hope she wins her suit because since the economy tanked there has been all these job posts popping up looking for interns more than ever. It’s nothing but companies looking for FREE work from young students and hopefuls with no intention of ever hiring them .

  • T

    While I understand the sentiments of Demetria and her point that is being made in this article, I must say that I respectfully disagree with many of her sentiments. I do agree with the statement that internships are supposed to be about gaining experience and being provided opportunities. However, many internships, especially in the fashion industry, can be demeaning, humiliating, and basically the employer taking advantage of the intern and that is never okay.

    I have had two internships in my life and I am grateful to say that I was respected and treated well. (Although I did have one supervisor who had a nasty attitude, but gratefully she did not express that towards me). If I ever experienced some of the treatment that I have read in these responses, I probably would have definitely never made it at a company. I am all for working hard and putting in long hours, and I believe in paying dues -I have done all of this, but don’t believe in company’s disrespecting any employee, that includes interns.

    I don’t think it is fair for Demetria to say that one is a failure if they are not able to parlay good connects from an internship. In my internships, I have met great people and have been praised on the job; however, for the most part, with the exception of one person, when the internship ended I didn’t gain a connect how “put me on” to other opportunities. Honestly, its the luck of the draw. If you meet the right people at the right time who want to help you, then you are lucky, but many people are too busy worried about their own careers than to help an intern get on track with theirs. In addition to that, with this tough job market, if you do not gain valuable experience as an intern, meaning accomplishments that will actually help towards you landing a decent job, then it’s pretty much pointless. Making copies, sending emails, and getting coffee for your boss is not going to get you that entry level job at a new establishment. It’s basically a waste. Employers are wanting experience for the most menial jobs these days, and if the internship isnt providing that for you it may possibly not help you as much as you hoped it would.

  • Arlene

    I graduated from a university that had paid internships. When I wanted to work in my dream field of fashion instead of what my degree isI had an unpaid internship that I only was paid money for lunch and a metrocard weekly. I networked my way to a couple of articles, credits in fashion stories, and a great grouP of people that to this day I network and work with. Don’t get it twisted I had more days than not with 6 am starts and 2 am ends all week long. It prepared me for days in my career where I had 18 hr work days, working with CEOs, and helping my work ethic. That’s what it should be. If its not: you can always LEAVE.

  • http://gravatar.com/nattynay nattynay

    -One must go through dirt to get to their diamond

    However as much as I understood that I would be an unpaid intern at a news station, I wasn’t going to be broken/condescended to. My internship was basically a “you’re on your own” experience (mind you a college news station is not even close to a top 10 news market like a station in a larger city); Where if I asked questions the “superiors” would mock me, and if I didn’t I’d be told “you should’ve asked” among other issues.Contrary to my “superiors’ ” thoughts, I wasn’t looking to be spoon-fed. I was grateful for the experience, absorbed what I could, and despite not receiving a reccommendation I still took pride in my prescence at that station.

    Long story short:
    Let’s not get it twisted not all internships are pleasant and go by “hard work+ persistance= reward.” There are those in control who drive their interns crazy, like something from The Devil Wears Prada. Though gaining the experience is vital, the main goal is to leave a good impression in hopes that the employer will throw you bone and help open doors to your career. Esp. during these economic times.

  • beks

    Re: Unpaid Internships. I am currently interning. I have had great supervisors and have learned a lot. Mine is rare situation in the ‘nyc’. Economically, across the board interns are being misused and abused without the federal regulations that protect full employees. They are sexually, verbally, and physically harassed and it just isn’t a ethical response to suggest that they just walk away. The burden of the responsibility for the good treatment of intern is shouldered by the supervisor and the corporation that oversees them – any good supervisor will agree with this sentiment. Economically, we know (published studies done already) that corporations lean on interns to do work that should be going to a paid employee and these lost $s out of circulation hurt our economy, especially the lower middle class who cannot replace these “stairstep” type of positions. I think that people should be paid fairly for their work..the fact that you can put that many hours in and be pushed out the door with no recourse is not the type of working environment that we should wish on our children — labor laws were put into place over the bodies of long dead Americans…we should keep in mind those sacrifices. Most importantly, this system hurts lower, middle and independent class people who simply can’t live off of the meager or no pay…sloping the playing field to overly benefit the rich. No bueno.

  • Kiki

    People please!!! Stop the whining stop all the woe is me!! When this women walked in the door and saw she was not getting paid she could have turned right back around and found a paying job. Before you can be Anna Wintour you got to be the intern!!

  • bijoux

    Man, I couldn’t agree more

  • P

    Being on both sides of the spectrum, having amazing and horrible internship experiences, there is a fine line between paying dues and abuse. I do believe in fashion/entertainment/pr you must be careful and draw your own line on what you will or will not take. My highs were high, but my lows were very low leaving me in tears or sick- unable to visit a Dr. because I had no health insurance.

    I think the suit is important, because it will send the industry a message, and give interns confidence to stand up for themselves. There is nothing wrong with working hard, and I don’t know what Wang actually experienced but the haze-like treatment needs to stop.

  • Egypt

    I completely understand, having to work your way up. It’s like that for any job, perhaps not as intense, though. But, there’s a thin line between allowing someone to work their way up and being an absolute fool, just because you work at a so called popular magazine. Let’s just face it, some of these people have serious self-esteem issues, they have yet to work out. Granted, there are some interns that could use a few lessons in ego land, as well. Work is suppose to be challenging, yes, but to treat another human being less than, is just uncalled for in my opinion.

    Someone mentioned the lack of pay and how unfair it is to those, who may not be able to afford such luxuries. I completely agree. I think it’s ridiculous huge companies such as Harper, choose not to pay interns.

  • JM

    @Kacey–yes, yes! I disagree with Demetria’s position in so many ways. Don’t get it twisted: while some unpaid internships are great, there are companies that know they can “hire” an intern to do the work they would–should–hire entry level employees to perform but without pay, benefits, etc. By law, an unpaid internship should not be limited to tasks that are integral to the work of the company.

    Full disclosure: I had great internships when I was coming up-one paid and one unpaid. I worked HARD and learned a great deal about my field thanks to supportive bosses. I also volunteered with organizations when I could for my own professional development.

    I have worked with organizations that employed a number of no-pay and low-pay interns.


    -I’ve seen college students spend 3 months at a printer copying music (that’s it!).

    -I have worked with an organization where interns were told NOT to seek out upper level management for informational sessions (what’s the point of working at an organization if you don’t have the opportunity to network with the experience professional within it?)

    -I’ve seen managers get upset when an internship program is cut and they are forced to hire an entry level staffer to do their crap work (and, this is in the arts, so the pay is crap!)

    -I’ve seen interns being humiliated for no reason. I’m sorry, we are not curing cancer. It’s NEVER THAT DEEP.

    I’ve managed a few interns and led a professional development seminar for interns. In private, if an intern is struggling to support himself while on this assignment (I live in DC; this is quite common), I encourage them to forgo another internship, get a job so they can eat and pay rent–something that allows them time to network and volunteer on their own with organizations (i.e, restaurant, bar-tending, theater front of house). Sometimes, volunteering with an organization allows more flexibility than an internship program.

    I just don’t think my field is best served by breaking down interns for absolutely no reason at all.

    If an intern is capable, I want them learning as much as possible and meeting as many people in the field while they are working with me. Otherwise, I’ve failed as a manager.

  • JM


  • Cleo Hines

    It sounds like Ms. Wang couldn’t cut it and has an entitled chip on her shoulder, i.e. because I did all that work I should have gotten a job out of it, um, no. No one is obliged to give you anything, and honestly half of obtaining employment or a referral after interning is being enthusiastic about what you’re doing, be it the most boring, mind numbing exercise known to man, trust me, people watch and take notice.

    I worked at Paper Magazine (eons ago, when it was still good and relevant) and went from being the receptionist to being the editorial assistant to the managing editor and the circulation assistant in less that six months, how, I solicited work during my downtime from every single department. I learned what pitched stories were most likely to excite the editors of each department, I did runs to designers for clothing, jewelry and shoes for photo shoots, I worked at the tents for fashion week after hours when asked (both of which were not in my job description as receptionist) and thanks to white people not know very much about black comedians and movies in general, scored an interview with Mike Epps when his publicist called to pitch him in Next Friday, when I told my editor about him he said ok, since you know so much about him, why don’t you write it and I’ll take a look at it. Two of the best interns that we had was a kid from Holland named Francois and a girl named Pippa from Australia, these kids were so enthusiastic and called almost everyday international long distance to let the intern coordinator know how much they wanted that internship, at the end of their internships they both got hired, while others left the way they came in.

    Point is man, you have to pay your dues and a lot of times just keep paying. Unfortunately for this girl, she’ll never work in the industry after this cause publishing is an incestuous little cesspool where everyone knows everyone else, and these people especially at the more established upscale magazines are pretty unforgiving.

  • http://pinkpantiesandleopardlipstick.wordpress.com PinkPantiesandLeopardLipstick

    Lord knows I got my share of coffee and got spoken to in manners I’d kick someone in the throat for today, lol, but I wouldn’t change those experiences for anything in the world!

    Great piece Belle!

  • L

    “If you meet the right people at the right time who want to help you, then you are lucky, but many people are too busy worried about their own careers than to help an intern get on track with theirs.” My experience, exactly. It’s the luck of draw.
    I agree with T; the sentiments expressed in the article may be true during an economic boom, but in these hard times, meaningful life experiences don’t pay the bills.

  • Apple

    Well I’ve been at that magazine and it’s nothing like that now . If you were doing that now you would have never got pass being an intern . However maybe after two years they may decide to pay you

  • http://gravatar.com/ceecollegegal CeeCee

    Unpaid internships are a waste of time and many breach labor laws. I read an article not to long ago about how the interns that worked on Black Swan are planning to sue the film studio. What some of the posters are failing to realize is that interns today are not your average naive, inexperienced, college undergrads, but older, experienced, educated workers. Many internships today are actually entry level positions where the worker should be receiving pay based on labor laws. Instead of hiring paid workers companies just hire interns to do all of the work and lie to students about what work should be performed during the internship.



  • http://twitter.com/Cognorati001 Colette Marcheline (@Cognorati001)

    Thank You!!!!

    The author lost me at “necessary rite of passage” — if you got someone tracking hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of borrowed items, that is a position of serious responsibility and should be paid!

    I can’t believe that during this economic downturn people are righting in supporting of limiting workers’ rights; the reality is that internships can be used to entirely skirt paying a wage and if it’s not wrangles, there will be even fewer entry level jobs for graduates and even experienced workers.

  • Pearlsrevealed

    I hope Ms. Wang wins. Just another reminder that many of us “have not because we ask not”. Ms Wang has asked in the form of a class action suit. Go head on chica. I hope her audacity brings the needed change to that industry.

  • binks

    Agreed with all of this…I swear some people live in La La land in today’s job market where competition is fierce it isnt’ that cut and dry anymore especially like you said when most people are worrying about their careers and trying to advance themselves. It seems like you need not only qualification and experience but luck as well. And I heard that “fashion” related internship ARE the worst.

  • Johanna

    Read the lawsuit.

  • Johanna

    I loved your last reply about how unpaid internships seem to maintain the “status quo” of the communications and fashion industry. The few minorities that work in these fields have wealthy benefactors or parents who can finance years of unpaid internships. I would venture to say that media and fashion make just as much as finance, and gross way more than the legal field. So, the fact that you have interns making upwards to ten thousand dollars a week in one industry and zilch in another is completely discretionary.

    Fashion is notorious for exploiting the lower-level workers in the industry, and because there is not a serious government crackdown, the higher-ups continue to belabor “the little people”. These folks are not going to give your colored- behind a job if you work and not complain no more than if you did exactly as Xuedan Wang did.

    In fact, retail workers get paid the least of any industry, yet there are virtually no diversity on the corporate board; all of the regional managers are practically white; and I want someone to name 50 non-white fashion editors or famous stylists with their own shows…who are not married or have babies with rappers or athletes. Go!

    In fact, I would love to write an article myself on how to pay dues to you, yourself, and I; and how to build a resume without internships. Many of my friends did financed their college years through freelance work and taking on entry-level positions while attending school. And, now they have well-paying corporate jobs.

  • Rue

    Why I am going into IT or hard sciences…this is too much ish for too little(or no) money

  • Rue

    Also to whom it may concern…There is a difference in allowing someone to start at the bottom and forcing someone to kiss your bottom.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    white people are addicted to slave labor…….

  • LN

    I feel torn. On the one hand, as someone who’s worked in print journalism, I understand the importance of internships — even unpaid. It is important for people to see what a print operation looks like from the ground up.

    BUT I do think that this mentality of “I-should-be-able-to-treat-interns-like-ish-and-they-should-be-grateful” is very VERY outdated.

    Instead of being seen JUST as errand boys and girls, magazines should look at interns as young people who UNDERSTAND and are PART OF the target demographic they’re trying to reach.

    When I pick up magazines at the grocery stand sometimes I think to myself, “My goodness. These mags are SO outdated in their thinking!” From the fact that white women are overwhelmingly on the cover, to their assumption that, as a young woman, all I care about is how to please my man. Although magazines have fared better than newspapers in the recession, they’ve also taken a hit. Female centric, intelligently written/compiled websites like NecoleBitchie.com, Jezebel.com, XO Jane, The Fashion Bomb and Rookie Mag are stealing audiences away from traditional magazines. And many of those websites were started by young women who, maybe, would have been dismissed or forced to ‘grind from the bottom’ at traditional print magazines.

    I also think it’s funny that the article mentions Vibe Magazine — a publication that was on the brink of extinction just a few years ago. The media world is equalizing and I think Ms Wang knows it. In this new media landscape I don’t know that it’s necessary or wise to be overworked and underpaid just to get an inside glimpse at an industry that is, itself, struggling to stay relevant.

  • Echi

    I agree with many of the comments here. What the intern in this article describes is nothing short of hazing. I do wish her the best in this case so as to send out a message. About a few months back, NPR talked about the abuse of the term intern and how it was basically free labor for companies in this struggling economy with school debt getting increasingly higher and social mobility literally non-existent. The early 2000s are way different from from now in terms of procuring jobs after graduation – and there are stats to back that up. Some of the fantastic internships that allow you to outshine your competition are unpaid – which puts minorities, even those at the best universities, at a disadvantage. I went into the sciences in undergrad, so fortunately, several of my internships were paid through scientific grants, minus one. My younger brother is in his final year of undergrad and is in the humanities with the hopes of going to law school. My parents tried to dissuade him from doing unpaid internships because of their financial situation. My older brothers and I, insisted that instead of working at a menial job during the summers – which has nothing to do with his field of interest, we would contribute money to pay for his living expenses so that he could participate in those unpaid internships – which required ungodly hours to be put in. Thank God, his last internship was paid, and from his description – amazing (dealt with issues facing Muslim women abroad – so proud of my baby brother…anyway, enough gushing). Not everyone has that opportunity. Not everyone has a the benefit of having a considerate, ultra-cool older sister like me – lol. It’s time to rethink the ethics behind unpaid internships.

    The idea of “I went through it, and so should you,” is a devastating mentality that permeates all industries. It’s especially sad when coming from fellow women. I saw it firsthand when interviewing Nigerian university students and their female professors about sexual harassment on campus. I see it today when talking to older women in the medical profession who sacrificed their ovaries for the job and see nothing in sacrificing mine. I am currently in medicine, and within that field, the powers that be have now realized that the 120 hour work week of the “good old days,” is not congruent with modern society – in which there are now more women in the workforce and there are young men with families who wish to not to be divorced by age 35. Thankfully, the mentality is changing and work hour restrictions have improved. I think the powers that be in some of these other industries should realize that our economy has tanked, average school debt is like ten times more than what some people make in a year, our men are unemployed, and our society demands that the modern woman balances family life and career while tip-toeing the boardwalk on polished stilettos. We know the value of hard work, we practice persistence, however, unpaid is a reality that many of us young female hustlers coming up behind women like Lucas, just can’t possibly afford.

    In sum, this article gets a “Dislike” from me.

  • Echi

    Urrrgh – some of my comments aren’t showing up!

  • Jordan

    As an intern, I can truly say I am learning the ropes of the media industry. Yes, I do tedious tasks (standing at the copy/fax machine FOREVER, alphabetizing hundreds of CD’s, driving across town to drop things off/pick things up for my boss). But I GET PAID! I don’t get paid much, but it at least covers my expenses for gas and food. Last summer, I did an unpaid internship, and my boss had me doing basically every & anything she didn’t want to do. This includes cleaning up after her un-pottytrained dog.

    I hope Ms. Wang wins! From my experiences, employers who don’t pay their intern have no ends to what they request you to do, whether its business related or not. My current boss is way more focused on me learning the industry than just running his errands.

  • http://www.prettypracticalonline.com psquaredla

    I was thumbing through the October issue of InStyle Magazine yesterday and you’re right, these mags are outdated! White women grace the cover and practically all of the pages inside. It’s a deliberate attempt to ignore the changing demographics of this country and the purchasing power of minority women, even if it negatively impacts their bottom line. Someone’s going to see there’s big money to be made selling to a multicultural economy and we will all be better off.

  • bri

    HA HA HA good one!!

  • Sue

    I read the original article on “The Cut”, including the comments and it does sound like there is alot of abuse in some of these magazines. The idea of doing an internship is so that someone can gain valuable skills, while making contacts in a particular industry. It’s supposed to be a mutually beneficial relationship, so the company should also be able to gain from the intern’s labor. From the description, it sounds like most magazine interns are basically errand boys/girls who cater to the whims of the higher-ups.
    I find it appalling that Ms. Lucas justifies the situation simply because she made it in the industry–it does not make it right!

  • Ms. Write

    I completely agree! Amen to this comment. Justifying the” I went through hell with my internship so stop complaining” mentality is like parents saying “my mother beat me with extension cords and I turned out fine” There should be labor laws that protect interns from going through this kind of treatment. True that you must pay your dues in life, but paying those dues shouldn’t mean becoming a slave! There should be laws that limit the amount of hours and extent of work that unpaid interns go through.

    I am just grateful that when I interned back in college (PAID internships btw) they were awesome experiences. Going through hell just to say I worked at a “high profile” magazine such as Vibe or XXL or Baazar doesn’t seem worth it if you are not being treated like a human being.

  • Ms. Write

    “An internship—even unpaid– is the opportunity of a lifetime for a person just starting out. ” Really? Because based on what the young lady is saying she went through at her internship it sure doesn’t seem that way. Especially if her boss wasn’t even willing to put a good word in for her. I’ll be late for that…

  • Veronica Tuesday

    This article is appalling. I generally enjoy reading what this author writes but this is ridiculously condescending and basically ignorant. I won’t get into all the reasons because they’ve been mentioned many times. I will however wish the author’s new intern the best of luck, because from what she has written here it appears that you will be working inhumane hours, doing the worst kind of work and getting paid nothing for it.

    Thank God that the generations before us didn’t ascribe to the “Since I went through it, you too have to go through it” line of thinking because then we’d still be going to segregated schools and riding the back of the bus.

    Shame on you Ms. Lucas.

  • http://gravatar.com/solfresh solfresh

    Being fresh out of college, I’ve had the opportunity to have three internships, one was paid, and in NY. Though I was grateful for the opportunity, I hated it. I hated how I was treated and received. Imagine being an eager/excited new intern only to find none of your bosses are present to greet you and the one person they could track down isn’t remotely interested in greeting you because she has a desk full of work. I didn’t receive my “welcome bag” until about a month into my internship (“Oh we forgot to give this to you when you came”). Honestly that set the tone for me. Needless to say that wasn’t my best internship on both ends. I didn’t respect nor enjoy my bosses, they didn’t get the best work from me. I deeply feel that internships are not one way. For an experience to be good, the employer and intern have to give 100%.

    Though I believe in putting in work, times have changed, it’s not 1980 nor 1990 nor 2000. I don’t believe in unpaid internships (but that’s another discussion) anymore because at some point in time I do believe interns get taken advantage of. I believe I’ve been taken advantage of before. Doing tasks that had nothing to do with my goals, or assigned duties. If I’m aspiring to be a copywriting completing menial account manager tasks is not going to help me get ahead, it’s actually taking away from the experience/writing that I need as a copywriter!

    Humility, respect, genuine interest, and eagerness is something that interns should have from the interview, not something that should be built during an internship (hence errands). If an internship requires administration tasks it should state that in the description (some companies are very good at selling lackluster internships, by lying in their description).

    As an entry level copywriter, I’m not busting into an agency looking to write a headline for Nike or do a script with an A-list celebrity. If anything I’m aware that my position will involve editing, and maybe writing a radio ad. I welcome all of that knowing it will give me experience and help me become a better writer. I’d rather be challenged at an internship (come up with 100 headlines in one hour) than have my hunger tested with menial pointless tasks.

    I’ve seen some of my peers have awesome internships where they weren’t treated like crap or given menial tasks which resulted in spectacular work. I’d like to think it’s because they weren’t dehumanized. If you can come out of an internship with at least one of these things: a meaningful experience that made you better skill wise, a paycheck, a job, good connections, a recommendation, confidence in your career choice and yourself, or a mentor then you’ve won. If you can get all of that at an internship you’re lucky and were more than likely viewed as an asset to a company. In my opinion, interns especially great interns are assets and should be treated as such especially in this world of startups.

  • 1 for All

    correct if I’m wrong but I work in the supply chain and honestly interns are treated like they are part of the group except they have their project they work on and have deadline but there’s guidance to support. this article and what i’ve read seems to be in the fashion/editorial type of career.
    To Demetria- because someone treated you bad and you surpassed doesn’t mean you have to do the same to another person. This girl has every right to vent out her unhappiness, imagine how many people have gone through it and probably tried to voice it out but no one was listening. instead of writing to encourage new interns and hopeful ones to be positive you are instead demeaning this girl because you survived. “Unfortunately, everyone doesn’t get to live the drea”. Well good for you. Last time I read your article Ms. Success

  • http://twitter.com/DreeTV DriTV

    I’m glad she outed herself with this wretched article. Also, her comment about published writers lacking substance was funny because her book is CRAP.

  • beks

    I like her but actually…you’re right. hmmmm

  • cocochanel31

    I think people are missing the bigger picture. I think this intern learned a valuable lesson..the workforce aka real life is not fair. You can do all of the “right” things and still not get the job you want, get treated fairly. That is the misconception that many young people have. As long as you are working for someone else, ” i.e. a corporation” you will be at their mercy literally for that paycheck every two weeks. It’s unfortunate that young people are not being taught to work for self or at least how to have two or three income streams coming in so that when they are inevitably faced with work BS and if you live long enough you will be, you can chuck the deuces and move on without worrying about how the rent will be paid. That is the point Demetria is making. Think outside the box people.

  • ruggie

    This lawsuit is one of the best things that could’ve happened to the fashion/publishing industry, which abuses interns like no other profession. Any more than 25 hours/week isn’t really an internship anyway; internship means that you’re studying and possibly working a second paid job to support an on-the-job learning experience. The abuse of interns in fashion/publishing is largely a function of gender, because employers know they simply cannot get away with doing this to men. (Sad to say, female employers can be some of the worst transgressors). There is no male-dominated profession that does this. Internships are a crucial career stepping stone and they have to be protected with fair practices, which I hope will result from this lawsuit.

  • Me

    GIRL. Snaps for you! This is the same in the film industry I went to LA and did my work but being a black girl – and i am NOT using this a crutch – I honestly couldn’t fit in. Or they wouldn’t allow me but there was something off. If I did something wrong I didn’t receive the same punishment as others and I noticed it and it hurt. I grew up believing – I’m JAMAICAN damn it! – that if you work hard you will succeed and if you fail it is on you. And that is the truth in the long term but for this occasion I did work and then some but I believe that I didn’t build a network (and really didn’t learn anything but errands and how superficial people are in LA) with them and felt like I wasted my time. Next time I know to RESEARCH but for 40 hours a week I’m sorry but an entry-level fee would have been nice. I was struggling in LA I’m from NY. What if I hadn’t saved my money how would I have paid rent? Groceries? How do ppl expect other to WORK HARD for nothing? Not even for minimum wage? I have a min wage job now and that still isn’t cutting it for my rent my mom has to help me. What about ppl who dare to dream but have no one but themselves? They just can’t work for 40 hours like dogs for nothing how do established companies expect this from people? Harper’s Bazaar could have paid that girl come on son. I understand if it was a start-up/small business or if she was just committed to 20 hrs a week and had time for a 2nd job but no. 40 or more is very regular. Interns are the 21st century slave. How else can you explain free labor? It’s our will to do it bc we need the experience but bc of that interns are exploited. At this point interns need to wise up, get the experience and hire there damn selves and be that greedy company’s competition. Ppl I know have had 7 internships with no hires. And this article blames the little guys? I am disappointed.

  • Amberella

    Poor girl. And now that she has filed this suit, she’ll probably never work in the industry. What you commenters have to realize is that unlike the internships in other fields you all have mentioned (science, law), this is the fashion industry. It’s one of the most popular and cutthroat industries to work in. For every person wanting to get into the industry but aren’t willing to deal with that type of treatment, there’s thousands of others who’ll suck it up to land that entry level job.

  • http://www.facebook.com/X23sexy Wong Chia Chi

    It goes both ways. Maybe the reason you aren’t seeking out opportunities is because all your time is spent running errands, or sorting through millions of pieces of jeweler.

    WTF is that supposed to help you learn exactly?

    And I’d be pissed too. She did not have to do that. She was being used as a disposable slave. Period. And just because she wasn’t being beaten or sexually harassed that doesn’t make it right.

    Also, entitlement is expecting the free labor in my opinion. Nobody deserves shit for free. You want my work? Pay me then. I’m not a slave.

    And as bad as the economy is a magazine like Harper’s, would be helping if they gave some unemployed people jobs. They can afford to.

    This kind of attitude, people will start being treated like they’re slaves the way that labor laws are being abused and ignored.

  • Amber Loney

    (((This is long, but please read it…I will tell you why this author is completely ignorant about the entire situation.)))

    Here is the deal: THIS.ECONOMY.SUCKS.A.LOT. We, as young people, are NOT having it easy at all, not that we expect that or even want it. We just want to survive. Why people think everything is just a walk in the park is beyond me. Let’s look at things in detail shall we?

    1. You enter elementary school. You learn your shapes, abc’s, 123′s, and you are happy. You make friends, you learn your basics. Every night you go home, your parents are too busy arguing with each other they could care less about your achievements.

    2. You get into middle-school. Being smart is dumb and being dumb means you’re popular. You still have to somehow think to yourself without help that it is more important that you focus on your studies than trying not to get made fun of, get beat up by kids who make fun of you, have no friends, and sit at lunches alone…and no one, not even your teachers tell you how important it is you understand what’s coming up next…

    3. High school comes along, everyone puts more emphasis on your “new found high school freedom” than the fact that what you do in this school will determine what you get for the rest of your life. No one helps you with college unless you are going to one of three schools that have partnered with your high school. You are placed on a track that you cannot escape once placed on it. That track will determine if you are a doctor (AP classes and honors classes and scholarships), you are someone’s corporate secretary (middle ground classes that most people take), you are a laborer (specialized classes like mechanics, carpentry, or construction core), or you are the shit stain in someone’s greasy restaurant who is destined to only draw social security (passing you through so you can just get out of high school while teachers pretend to be your buddies). No one warns you about the economy, no one tells you how to behave socially (everything you do is allowed), and people passively suggest that things will be hard if they do at all and not offer solutions. Your parents are not an active part of your education.

    4. You make it out, and even if you were honors everything, you realize that you don’t have enough money to afford college. Your parents can barely support you. If you so happen to start a family soon after high school, people will try to make it harder for you than it really is by withholding opportunities from you to “teach you a lesson” you clearly don’t need because they didn’t teach you the important stuff in the beginning. You switch majors twice because each time, the departments fed you lies and mislead you and you realize you don’t want that career, then you’re stuck looking at the labor statistics, or the job outlooks to see what will provide you a living, even if you don’t want to do it. You settle on something finally and then also realize that you are drowning in loan debt by this time and are not sure how you will make a living while you are in school. Eventually, staying with your parents is becoming a strain, and you may need to find somewhere to go, but lack credit, life skills, and experience for meaningful or decently paying jobs. You study your ass off in class. Your teachers seem optimistic at first, THEN they start to get quiet towards time for your class to graduate, making your classmates question if there is really any jobs out there for them. You find out you need experience for everything, and you simply don’t have it and have no way to get it. Your loans are due in four months, you need a job before you can get the required experience for the job you’ve invested in. You take an internship as a last ditch effort. It is a relief to you, then you realize it is unpaid and you have to balance that, the remainder of school, your existing job, and surviving. You’re still happy because you hope that three-four months on an internship will provide enough experience…it doesn’t normally. You end up STILL without a job and paying your loans anyway because they come due. You were treated poorly by your employer (who doesn’t have to pay you, na na na na bo bo…), and left not knowing what to do, or if you’ll ever get a freaking career. You are without hope, you can’t start a family because you can’t provide for them, and if you have one, you worry every night about their well-being.

    THIS IS WHY THIS ARTICLE IS WRONG. IT SHOULD NOT BE THIS WAY. NO ONE SHOULD BE TREATED THIS WAY. I am a college student. I do not deserve to be treated like a slave after I have already suffered. I have worked hard all my life, never done anything horrible. Always been kind, yet I always get spit on, and I don’t think that you are right to suggest we should just roll over on our backs for these pompous employers to get no pay and no job prospects, not even a good word! Especially when starvation, homelessness, and debt is looming over our heads and we are not even 30. We deserve better!

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