“ You Manage It! 1: Ethics/Social Responsibility Are Companies Exploiting College Students Who Have Unpaid Internships? More than half of college students who graduate have had one or more internships, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. From one-fourth to one-half of the internships for college students are unpaid. Unpaid internships exist in for-profit firms for students to gain entry into careers that receive many job applicants, such as in fashion, book and magazine publishing, art galleries, sports management, and film and television. Internships give college students an opportunity to gain valuable job skills that can lead to job offers after they graduate. According to U.S. Department of Labor regulations, when private-sector companies provide unpaid internships for college students, the internship is expected to benefit the intern and be similar to vocational training so that useful job skills are imparted to the intern. In practice, for-profit firms consider unpaid internships to be legitimate as long as the students receive academic credit for their work. This college-credit loophole has tempted some companies to pile on their interns a large amount of unskilled work. Many students have reported that they have held internships that involved noneducational and menial work. It is not unusual for unpaid internships to involve some menial work; however, when most of the work consists of unskilled labor, the unpaid internship can be in violation of the law. In one such case, a student at an Ivy League university said she devoted most of her time during an unpaid internship at a magazine publisher packaging and shipping 20 or more apparel samples per day back to fashion houses that had provided them for fashion shoots. In another case, a children’s film company provided an unpaid internship to a New York University student who had hoped to work in animation at the film company. Instead, this student was told to work in the facilities department and was ordered to wipe the door handles each day to minimize the spread of swine flu. It is true that some unpaid internships can provide useful job skills to college students that they can put on their resumes to attract an employer’s attention. However, as illustrated by the examples in this case, some unpaid internships end up being little more than a collection of routine tasks and do little to improve a student’s professional skill set. With the current high levels of U.S. and European youth unemployment, some companies are tempted to take advantage of unpaid internships as a low-cost source of exploitable labor. Critical Thinking Questions 2-9. Although it is illegal for profit-based companies to create unpaid internships that require college interns to perform primarily menial tasks, unfortunately this is happening with increasing regularity. What can students do to avoid the experience of having an unpaid internship that consists of mostly menial work with few opportunities to learn new skills? 2-10. Does the university have a responsibility to ensure that a student’s unpaid internship will be a legitimate learning experience that earns college credits toward graduation? How can the university ensure that a company provides the unpaid intern a legitimate learning experience while still giving the company the flexibility to deploy the unpaid intern in ways that are useful to the company? Team Exercise 2-11. Form a small group with several of your class members and take turns sharing your experiences with paid and unpaid internships. Which internships provided better learning experiences—the ones that were paid or the ones that were unpaid by the sponsoring company? After each person in the group has had the opportunity to share their internship experiences, the group will collectively develop a list of three or four practices that students should follow to avoid having a bad experience in an unpaid internship. Be prepared to present your findings to other members of the class. Experiential Exercise: Team 2-12. Find a partner to enact the following role-play situation related to an unpaid internship for a college student at a local television station. One of the two roles is that of the college student who is seeking to gain some experience working as a news reporter at a local television station. The other role is that of the television station news manager. The person taking the role of the student devises a plan that outlines the skills that he or she hopes to learn about television news reporting from the unpaid internship. The person in the role of the television station news manager reacts to the student’s ideas in a manner consistent with how a manager would likely react if that manager had responsibility for broadcasting morning and evening local news in a manner that keeps television viewers informed of breaking news stories. The parties in both roles need to come to an agreement on the key work duties of the unpaid intern. Be prepared to report back to the class some useful approaches that a student can use to improve his or her chances of having a successful unpaid college internship. Sources:Based on Greenhouse, S. (2012, May 5). Jobs few, grads flock to unpaid internships. New York Times. www.nytimes.com ; Chatzky, J. (2011, November 21). The great American internship swindle, Newsweek, 22; Guerrero, A. (2013, April 3). Should you take an unpaid internship? U.S. News &World Report. [no longer online] http://money.usnews.com/money/careers/articles/2013/04/03/should-you-take-an-unpaid-internship ; Greenhouse, S. (2010, April 2). The unpaid intern, legal or not. New York Times. www.nytimes.com .”
Read “You Manage It! 2” in Managing Human Resources (2016, p. 79). After reading the case, complete the following items:
1. Write a summary of the case,
2. Answer the critical thinking questions, and
3. Elaborate on two key learnings from the case related to the roles, functions, and competencies required in organizations. Be sure to clearly state the two key learnings and defend them in well-organized, scholarly responses.
A key learning is defined as significant knowledge gained from reading the case. You may choose to explain your key learnings by offering a real-world application, personal insight, your thoughts and opinions about what was stated, how it is handled at your company, etc.
Please arrange your summary, questions, and key learnings in a well-organized, scholarly response of 2-3 pages. Support your observations and opinions with citations from 2-3 credible sources