Tag Archives: Jordan Helo

All Work No Pay

Despite juggling four specialized coffee drinks in one hand and a pile of paperwork in the other, many interns are still able to speak out about being exploited in the workplace.

According to the Department of Labor’s Fair Labor and Standards Act, employers must meet six criteria when it comes to justifying an unpaid internship:

  • The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  • The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  • The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  • The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  • The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship;
  • The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

But increased unemployment rates in the wake of the Great Recession seemed to have given some employers a chance to blur the lines set by federal law, and several lawsuits filed by unpaid interns claimed employers took the educational aspect away from interns, in favor of excessive work that should have been done by paid employees. The courts tended to agree. The renewed attention to the issue has meant a change in policy for some employers, who now report their intention to pay their interns, or in some cases, to drop their internship programs altogether.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers reports that most employers say they do use internships to recruit new employees.

“I think internships lead to jobs if there’s a job for them to lead to,” CSUN Cinema & Television Arts Professor Kim Paul Friedman said. “In my personal experience, I haven’t seen companies create jobs for interns.”

But Friedman said if a company finds a candidate who is good at what they’re doing, enthusiastic and hardworking, companies will take notice.

Jordan Helo was the internship coordinator at CSUN’s Career Center, and held many internships herself, both paid and unpaid.

Helo agreed that internships do not always lead to jobs, at least not always with the company providing the internship.

“From my experience, an internships hasn’t directly led me to a job in that company, but to the next internship or position, and has worked as sort of a resume builder,” Helo said.

Interns and legal experts agree that while the federal law doesn’t require internships to lead to jobs, it does require them to lead to training and experience. If they don’t, the interns should be getting paid.

“If you ask people to do real work, then they should get real pay,” labor attorney Manuel H. Miller said.

But Friedman said the recent lawsuits against employers probably won’t stop all employers from offering unpaid internships to students willing to learn and in need of experience.

“Laws, rules and all that are only as good as your ability to enforce them,” Friedman said.


Moderator: Danny Max

Producer: Stephanie Murguia

Anchor: Bryan Ramirez

Reporter: Candice Curtis, Stephanie Murguia, Ugochi Obinma

Social Media Editors: Ugochi Obinma, Gabriela Rodriguez, Candice Curtis

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