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The Labor Department says that if employers do not want to pay their interns, the internships must resemble vocational education, the interns must work under close supervision, their work cannot be used as a substitute for regular employees and their work cannot be of immediate benefit to the employer. But in practice, there is little to stop employers from exploiting interns. The Labor Department rarely cracks down on offenders, saying that it has limited resources and that unpaid interns are loath to file complaints for fear of jeopardizing any future job search.

No one keeps statistics on the number of college graduates taking unpaid internships , but there is widespread agreement that the number has significantly increased, not least because the jobless rate for college graduates age 24 and under has risen to 9. Employment experts estimate that undergraduates work in more than one million internships a year, with Intern Bridge, a research firm, finding almost half unpaid.

Matt Gioe had little luck breaking into the music and entertainment industry after graduating with a philosophy degree from Bucknell last year. To get hands-on experience, he took an unpaid position with a Manhattan talent agency that booked musical acts. He said he answered phones and looked up venues. Although he was sometimes told to make bookings, he said he received virtually no guidance on how to strike a deal or how much to charge. But the boss did sometimes ask him to run errands like buying groceries. Eisenbrey said many companies were taking advantage of the weak labor market to use unpaid interns to handle chores like photocopying or running errands once done by regular employees, which can raise sticky legal questions.

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Push for paid: a student guide to internships

With an M. Glatt wanted to get into film after a previous job overseeing training programs at the American International Group , the big insurance and financial services company. View all New York Times newsletters. Glatt filed suit , accusing Fox Searchlight Pictures of minimum wage violations.

Student Opportunities - Fashion Marketing Internship Program - Cotton Incorporated

The company says it fully complies with the law and provides interns with a valuable, real-world work experience. Glatt, who now plans to go to law school. Some interns say their experiences were quite helpful. Emily Miethner, a fine arts major at Hofstra, took an unpaid position at Gawker after graduating in , doing research and social media for the news and gossip site.

After two months, she moved to an unpaid internship at Flavorpill, an online cultural guide. Xuedan Wang, known as Diana, did not have such a positive experience. She sued the fashion magazine in February, accusing it of minimum wage violations. Some people end up on an internship treadmill.

Joyce Lee, who received a film degree from Wesleyan in , moved to Los Angeles and did six unpaid internships, including one for Scott Rudin , a top Hollywood and Broadway producer.

Her duties included reading scripts and picking up the mail. To pay her rent, she worked at a coffee shop and handed out fliers for a taxi company. A spokesman for Mr.

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  6. For internships in the arts check out the Arts Council's job site. W4MP is the site to check for internships in politics. Before looking for work-based opportunities it is important to know the definitions. Work experience, internship and volunteering are three terms you will encounter that mean different things.

    Work experience is a short placement spent observing a workplace or shadowing a member of staff. The key is in the name: you experience a working environment but don't do crucial tasks yourself. Work experience placements do not have to be paid. Internships tend to be longer in duration and heavier in terms of responsibility.

    How to define the work you're doing

    If an intern is doing real work that would otherwise be completed by a paid employee, they are entitled to payment under NMW legislation. There are some exceptions — students completing an internship as an accredited part of their university course do not have to receive payment, for example. Volunteering is different to working.

    INTERNSHIPS - Fashion Merchandising Series

    As a volunteer you help out on your own terms and there is no obligation to complete set tasks. Volunteers help out for a cause, not for money or CV points. You don't get paid as a volunteer. The government has an official guide to the National Minimum Wage and the Pay and Work Rights Helpline on deals with enquiries about payment on internships. Once you have landed your internship, being confident and friendly are key traits employers look for in a good intern.

    Fashion PR Intern, Los Angeles

    An internship is your chance to show an employer what you're made of, so it's not the time to be a wallflower, says Natasha Pearlman, deputy editor of Elle. It's getting over that fear of putting yourself forward, not in an obtrusive way, but just asking questions. After you have finished your internship it's a good idea to share your experience on Rate My Placement so that other students know what to expect.

    This is also a good site to check for anonymous reviews of placements when you're in the process of applying. Keep in touch with your employer. An email and Christmas card here and there will keep you in their mind so that when a full time job comes along you are the first person they think of. Our experience at Intern Aware is that paid opportunities tend to have more structure and are more likely to lead to a job than unpaid internships.

    If you find an unpaid one that you really want to do, consider writing to the head of the company explaining that you would love to take up the opportunity but can't afford to work for free. They are only human after all, and this approach has worked for interns we have helped in the past. Whether your internship is paid or unpaid it's a good idea to get a description of your duties and what training you will get in return. This is something you can show to future employers. It is also useful evidence of your contribution if you are not being paid and would like to claim the national minimum wage.

    Writing down what you learn, and the names and contact details of who you meet, can be a great resource after you leave the internship. Internships are largely about making contacts so make sure you have your little black book to hand. Leaving it until you're applying for your next internship or job might be too late to ask for a reference.