The rules of the road for internships

Each summer a number of articles surface concerning unpaid internships. Hannah Seligson of the Washingtonian wrote about The Age of the Permanent Intern, describing interns doing unpaid internships while also working to make a living as restaurant hosts, retail workers and coffee baristas. The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division regulates internships under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Interns can do free internships at for-profits if they follow the rules, which include being sure the internship is educational, for the benefit of the intern, are not done to replace paid employees or as a job tryout.

Activities for students at three levels:

Flashlight: Visit your school's Career Center. Set up an interview with the advisor to learn about local internships. Do those meet the FLSA rules? Poll your fellow students: How many have had to work an extra job to be able to afford being an intern? Can you find news stories on the subject in your state? If so, what do employers say in their defense?

Spotlight: Consider The Future of Higher Education. What will the internships of the future look like? Will they still be necessary to gain work samples to satisfy recruiters at your first entry-level job? Will it matter when schools go digital whether your teachers is a professional, a scholar, or a computer? If you’d like, post your “intern of the future” scenarios in social media and collect them with Storify or Rebel Mouse.

Searchlight: Take a look at the education enrollment in this package by the Associated Press project called The Great Reset. Note the unemployment rate of journalism graduates (listed under communications) is only 7 percent, less than in many other fields. How could that be, if traditional news companies have cut back? Clearly, journalism graduates are getting jobs elsewhere, and doing better than lawyers (but not nurses). What are those other jobs? What skills do they require? Would you do an internship in a non-media company doing media work?