Is the Internship headed for extinction?

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By Laurie Jakobsen

I’ve been watching the various internship lawsuits progress, so was unsurprised by this announcement today by Condé Nast:

Condé Nast has decided to discontinue its internship program starting in 2014, WWD has learned. The end of the program comes after the publisher was sued this summer by two former interns who claimed they were paid below the minimum wage during internships at W and The New Yorker.
wwd.com
Oct 23, 9:51 AM

 

I have mixed feelings about these cases, but I do feel in the end it’s going to be the next generation that suffers. As the beneficiary of several unpaid internships in college, I found them invaluable to try out different aspects of the industry, and it set me on course for my eventual paid positions. For two summers, I had two jobs: my unpaid internship, and another paid position – once a grocery stock person, and once an ice cream scooper. This meant I generally worked seven days a week. So on the one hand, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for these unpaid interns.

On the other hand, I’m told it’s a different world now and internships don’t lead to jobs. Well, now that companies are stopping internship programs, they certainly will not. And I don’t think we’re going to see a wellspring of paying entry level positions in the marketplace.  I think we’re just going to see more young people trying desperately to get that first job, and being either passed over for lack of industry work experience, or being paid even lower starting rates because the company needs to give them that experience.

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