SS 15
Benefit or Burden: The True Cost of Unpaid Internships

Tuesday, August 12, 2014: 8:00 PM-10:00 PM
309/310, Sacramento Convention Center
Katy Warner, Colorado State University
Jessica Briggs, Colorado State University
Many organizations recruit recent college graduates to participate in full-time internship and volunteer positions. These types of internships are one of the primary ways for recent graduates to get entry-level experience, especially in fieldwork-based branches of ecology. In some cases, well run intern programs provide amazing learning opportunities. However, we do not often discuss the financial hardships these opportunities impose on full-time interns. With the average college student in 2013 graduating with over $35,000 in debt, is it ethical for entry-level positions to offer job experience without pay?  Are we excluding diverse groups who cannot afford the financial burden of subminimum-wage internships and full-time volunteer positions? How do employers view intern experience vs. paid job experience when they evaluate candidates? Legally, what criteria define an internship, and when are they exempt from fair-labor laws? Given their non-employee status, is it justifiable that unpaid interns are denied workplace protections including harassment and discrimination despite working full-time? Come hear a diverse panel of speakers discuss these issues and more, followed by a question and answer session with the audience.
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