It’s job search season for students and fresh graduates, which means a bump in media interest in internships.
Barely a decade ago, we’d expect news articles to include tips for landing a “dream internship” or to quote an employer boasting that unpaid interns are economically efficient for firms. But today, the media coverage generally takes a different tone.
For example, the U.K.‘s The Guardian recently called out British Vogue for recruiting unpaid interns.
The article’s main source is an intern advocate who reported the fashion magazine to Britain’s HM Revenue and Customs for potentially violating minimum wage laws.
It notes that a Vogue “workplace shadowing” role undermines the editor’s stated commitment to expand diversity at the magazine since unpaid internships generally exclude people who can’t afford to work for free and generally favour the children of the wealthy.
In Canada on International Women’s Day, CBC News reported on the need for improved protections against sexual harassment of unpaid interns.
What’s behind the pivot in public opinion that has seen internships shift from a benign rite of passage to a lightning rod workers’ rights issue? Activism.
Since 2010, an intern rights movement has been remarkably successful at winning victories for interns, drawing attention to just one vital issue of workers’ rights.