You Knew What You Signed Up For

I love my internship in New York so far at Glamour. I get to write the articles I like to read, I work in a nice big office right in the middle of Times Square, and I just love seeing those glossy pink GLAMOUR letters mounted on the wall when I walk in. Livin’ the dream. Well, almost. The only problem with this summer is that I’m living a New York life on a non-existent salary. That’s perfectly okay by me—I knew what I signed up for, and I’m just grateful and excited for the experience I’ll have when it’s all over. But some interns just don’t feel the same way.

Xuedan Wang, 28, is suing Hearst Corporation claiming that she worked more than 40 hours a week unpaid at Harper’s Bazaar which violates labor laws. Now, her lawyers are asking for other previous Hearst interns to join Wang in the class-action lawsuit.

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, companies are allowed to provide internships without pay to college students as long as the internship benefits the student—meaning the student gained some type of valuable experience during that time.

So what does this mean? I do think unpaid internships are fair. You know what you’re signing up for, and if you don’t like it, then find a (rare) paid internship, or don’t intern. It’s pretty simple. I have learned a lot at my internship this summer. But ever since this case came about, I have been hearing rumors that if Wang wins, unpaid internships may become a thing of the past. I don’t know if this is all true, but I do think that would be terrible. If all internships must be paid, then magazines and other media outlets will not be able to afford to hire interns, or at least not as many. The direct consequence, of course, would be that the number of internships would decrease, making them even more competitive. I applied to so many places for an internship for the summer. I got some offers, some interviews, but then I never even heard back from some places—it is already really competitive to get the “dream” internship! It will be interesting to see what happens, but in my opinion, Wang knew what she signed up for before she even walked through the doors of the Hearst building.

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