Hard Times Made Harder

“Internships” and “volunteer opportunities” that are actually full time jobs:

From today’s FILM CAREERS email, from Columbia:

INTERNSHIP for credit / or Volunteer For Experience and Resume building (not for credit)

We would like an aspiring journalist, critic, or academic writer who is familiar with LGBTQIA and queer art and is looking for the experience of managing a publication.

The position would required no more than 8 hours a month, two hours a week fulfilling the following duties.

Assistant Editor
Go Over the Rainbow: A Kaleidoscope of Queer Arts Review Online
Visit http://goovertherainbow.com/join-us to learn more about our mission and to view all open positions.


Generate story leads and assign some articles
Recruit new writers NYC, LA, and Chicago
Arrange and/or Attend Press Screenings
Manage editorial calendar
Comb and copyedit articles for typos, grammatical error, and some content
Correspond with Publicity Managers, Distributors, Artists, and Bloggers
Report to Editor-in-Chief for monthly assignments

Editing and Proofreading
English Language and Grammatical Proficiency
Strong Written and Verbal Communication
Online or Print Publication Knowledge

Technical Knowledge
Microsoft Word and/or other Word Processing Applications
Familiarity or Willingness to Learn Basic Use of a Content Management System (Joomla, WordPress, Moveabletype)
Adobe InDesign, Photoshop (not required)


Generate story leads and assign some articles? Recruit new writers NYC, LA, and Chicago? Arrange and/or Attend Press Screenings? Manage editorial calendar?
Comb and copyedit articles for typos, grammatical error, and some content?
Correspond with Publicity Managers, Distributors, Artists, and Bloggers?
Report to Editor-in-Chief for monthly assignments?

Are you fucking kidding me? That is a full-time magazine editor position that they are not willing pay anyone to do! If they aren’t going to pay the editor, who are they going to pay?

Answer: Editor-in-Chief.

Wait, I’m sorry. What is the job of the Editor-in-Chief? Well, what does Wikipedia say…

So this is basically the Editor-in-Chief position, with no pay, and the poor schmuck still has to report to an Editor-in-Chief. He or she doesn’t even get the benefit of being called Editor-in-Chief?

Also, note the word “aspiring” in the opening line. Is there anyone in the world who has that breadth of knowledge, skill, and experience who is still considered to be “aspiring?” Are any of those people willing to do any of those tasks for FREE?

Go fuck yourselves.

After having vented about this to our friend, Joe Griffin, ol’ Joe sent me this Craigslist listing:

We are a video production company located downtown Chicago looking for an intern to help us out from January 2012 through April.

Internships are the best way to get started in the film and video field, and SolidLine Media’s internship program is a hands on experience that will get you ready to jump start your career. At SolidLine Media you won’t be answering phones and getting coffee; you will be a member of our team working on location, learning how a high end production company works, working with clients, and traveling around the world to get the job done right.

SolidLine Media creates high end promotional, corporate, and training videos that have won countless awards. We’ve shot on three different continents (not to mention almost every state in the US), and have been expanding steadily over the last decade. With high profile clients like John Deere and DHL, SolidLine Media has become an international production company based right in the heart of Chicago.

With the SolidLine Media internship program you could be flying to New York to do an interview one week, driving out to Denver on the SolidLine truck to get B-roll the next, and helping edit it all together after that. On set you will be a full participant helping set up lights, creating shots, and making perfect images to match the client’s content. When in the office you can learn how to edit in our Avid editing suites, watch motion graphics and 3D animation development in our Art Department, and just get a big picture understanding of how the projects move from an idea on paper to a full video being seen by the world.

With all of these opportunities there does come responsibility. SolidLine runs three four month internship programs a year and if you are hired you are expected to be a full time member. Whether you enrolled for college credit or not, the team is going to be counting on you to be available for shoots, travel, and participation in the full film making process. Even though there is no pay, SolidLine will make sure you walk away from the four months with the knowledge and experience to make you stand out from the crowd.

If interested please respond via craigslist so we can schedule an interview. Include a cover letter and resume with the e-mail please.

A four month, full-time position that will definitely include travel across the country and possibly across the world deserves compensation, especially when it’s in an industry as demanding as the film industry.

Will Solidline cover travel expenses, or is the intern expected to cover those?

Damn-it, I’m pissed off.

Does anyone know if there are labor laws that prohibit this bullshit? I’d love to apply and demand proper compensation.

Is this as awful as I make it sound, or am I missing something?


4 thoughts on “Hard Times Made Harder

  1. I can’t remember where I came across it, but I read that internships like this are becoming much too common in this difficult economy. People are desperate for work because many companies are biased against those that have long periods of unemployment, which is insane, and companies are looking for ways to cut costs. It’s a perfect storm of bullshit!

  2. That Editorial Intern role is only going to take 8 hours a week?
    FUCK YOUR MOTHER No It Won’t. It will take 40+ hours a week.

    That SolidLine Media company DEMANDS that you work a full time schedule and DEPENDS on you and what do they promise? “We’ll make SURE you WALK AWAY with experience and knowledge.” As in, you’ll never want to work in this robber-baron industry again.

    Fuck all your mothers.

    Everyone we know in Chicago should apply for both internships, show up to the interview, ask them to describe the responsibilities and then start shouting. This notion of the MIC CHECK might be useful.

  3. I’ve actually had a lot of second-hand exposure to internships lately – comes from working at a college. The internship market is, to say the least, complicated.

    For starters, yes, absolutely, you’re totally right Scott, this is outrageous and exploitative. It’s easy to compare to slavery, except, well, the intern is there by choice and can, you know, go home any time. So technically, and legally, they’re volunteers.

    Without question internships are very frequently handled in extremely unethical ways. I have personally seen countless (dozens at least) of students who took an internship in order to gain experience and – hopefully – a job, only be harshly used and summarily disposed at the end of their tenure.

    I have also seen a few rare cases of interns who become employees, or who benefit greatly from their work. One producer I work with started out just that way; another of my student workers has recently been offered a paid position at the end of his internship.

    Here are some links of note on the topic:

    Definitely read this first.

    Bahls and Bahls note that the U.S. Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Field Operations Manual establishes six criteria for distinguishing interns from employees:

    Interns may be trained using equipment and procedures specific to the employer, but internship experiences must be akin to experiences that they would be able to gain in a vocational school.
    Regular employees cannot be displaced by interns, who should be closely supervised. “Farming work out to unpaid interns after a regular employee quits would raise a red flag,” said Bahls and Bahls.
    Interns are not guaranteed jobs at the completion of their internship. “If they are,” wrote Bahls and Bahls, “the experience looks more like the training period at the start of a new job, for which they’d be entitled to fair wages.”
    Both employer and intern need to understand that training time does not entitle interns to wages.
    Training should be primarily for the benefit of the intern.
    Companies providing training to interns, noted Bahls and Bahls, “must derive no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern…. Although an internship program will benefit your business over the long term by providing a pool of trained applicants with familiar work habits, it’s not meant to be a source of free labor.”
    Most business consultants offer soothing advice to small companies that might be scared off by such criteria. They point out that the overwhelming majority of firms that establish internship programs are pleased with them, and as Bahls and Bahls wrote, “while the Labor Department closely adheres to its six criteria, courts tend to look at the spirit of the internship program as a whole.”

    And then follow it up with this

    The decision to go unpaid as an intern is mostly personal. When you’re looking for an internship, you need to ask yourself, “will I benefit enough from the training and experience that I gain through this internship to make up for the forgone wages?” If the answer is yes, then you should apply.

    Still, if an employer can’t figure out how to put you to good enough use to make more than minimum wage off of your labor, is it really a company that you want to be interning for?

    There’s a huge legal gray area here, but basically, unpaid internships are most often legal, so long as the intern is not performing the role of an employee, and so long as the intern benefits more from their education at the workplace than the workplace benefits from the word performed by the intern.

    The larger question of whether unpaid internships are ethical is better touched on here

    There is (and has always been) a giant trend to compensate interns in “experience” alone. It’s one thing for a 18-year-old that has never opened Photoshop to walk into a tiny design studio and expect little or no compensation, but the more I talk to young designers struggling to get work, the more I see people in their early and mid-twenties (most with bachelor and graduate degrees) having to settle for unpaid internships in their quest to find a real job. These are people with real skills and they are being taken advantage of. Everyone knows that you won’t get rich from an internship, but companies (even tiny ones) can afford to pay you something for your time, even if what you’re being paid amounts to little more than minimum wage in a city like New York. The big argument you’ll hear against paying interns is that you are learning a lot from the company or designer you’re working for and that their time is so valuable that they are working at a loss to educate you. This is complete bullshit. Well, maybe not complete bullshit but definitely a hearty serving of it.

    (The above blog – Jessica Hische on design and freelance work – is a fantastic read in general.)

    And my own personal opinion on the ethics of hiring unpaid interns is perfectly summed up here.

  4. Mr. Cox, you sum it up nicely.

    As I told Scott, when I see postings like the gold he dug up here, I want to send in my resume with a two-word cover letter expressing my interest in the position.

    (Speaking as one who has experienced a very proper, mutually beneficial paid internship turned full-time.)

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