As the spring season quickly approaches, many fashion houses and magazines are posting the availability for their summer 2012 internships.
Now more than ever, many companies are requiring that interns receive school credit for their time that may or may not include a daily stipend.
Just last week, former Harper’s Bazaar intern Xuedan Wang sued Hearst (Harper’s publisher) for violating state and federal wage and hours laws, and the case has become a big buzz in the magazine industry.
According to fashionista.com, Wang’s lawsuit says, “the prevalence of the practice nationwide curtails opportunities for employment, (and) fosters class divisions between those who can afford to work for no wage and those who cannot.”
I’m not quite sure if Wang was initially promised some form of payment, but as an intern in the fashion magazine industry last summer, I both understand and agree with Wang’s case.
Yes, internships provide interns with valuable experiences, relationships and the obvious added bullet to one’s resume.
However, simply receiving academic credit without any type of cash flow can lead to problems.
I know a few fellow interns who worked with me in New York City who were from the Midwest and had to foot the bill of living expenses for the span of three months, plus transportation to the internship, etc.
Not to mention having to pay for the school credit hours.
One anonymous editor told fashionista.com that internships are for those with access to money.
Internships “foster and encourage (kids who have access to money) — not the kid who actually has to pay his or her own bills,” she said.
Another anonymous editor showed less sympathy, saying, “I see magazines as a competitive industry that is closer to acting or art than, say, investment banking. In any creative industry, the first jobs are low paying (or don’t pay at all) and people have to work other jobs or borrow to counterbalance those disparities.”
It is understood that sacrifices must be made in life to achieve certain goals, but to what extreme does it go when the parents of the intern you are competing against lie in a much higher tax bracket?
As you go out in pursuit of your dream internship, always keep in mind where you see yourself being and make sure that internship is best suited for you.
Shelisa Melendez is a journalism and merchandising, apparel and textiles senior.