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Posts Tagged ‘internships’

Making the Most Out of an Internship

While this time of year resonates with college students and grads for internships, experienced workers may find themselves pursuing an internship as well to get hands-on experience and a foot in the door.

Lauren Berger, also known as the Intern Queen who landed 15 internships in four years, tells TIME there are several ways to make the most out of an internship. For starters, she says to know your rights. Considering a few companies have been sued over unpaid internships, you’ll need to know what’s legal and what’s not.

For instance, buzz words like “sales” or “commission” certainly raise red flags. If you’re an intern, you really shouldn’t work on projects that impact revenue.

Moving on, Berger emphasizes getting a mentor. How do you do this? Sounds pretty simple by asking the internship coordinator for permission to contact an executive internally. It’s essentially a quick meeting to simply ask the exec how he or she got started in the business, any mistakes they made early on, and how they would break in today if they were in the intern’s shoes.

The importance of the mentor is raised again as the internship comes to a close. Instead of asking point blank to have a job, the Intern Queen suggests asking for advice.

In the piece she explains, “I tell students to take the pressure off of thinking the internship will turn into a job. An internship doesn’t guarantee that you’ll work at the company afterwards. What you need to do is leverage your contacts and stay in touch with them.” Plus, an internship is a terrific way to get a referral and recommendation for future employment.

Is Your Company’s Internship Program Legal?

With recent lawsuits over unpaid work by former interns from Harper’s BazaarCharlie Rose and the movie Black Swan, unpaid internships have come under fire as being exploitative and, many times, illegal. But with the U.S. Department of Labor’s “test for unpaid interns” leaving too much room for interpretation, it’s hard to know where the line is drawn.

According to the labor department, interns at a for-profit business who qualify as employees “typically must be paid at least the minimum wage and overtime compensation for hours worked over 40 in a workweek.” That means if your intern is slaving over a project until 2 a.m. at the office, you better be writing those checks.

Remember, the bottom line is that an unpaid intern’s experience should be focused on his education more so than his benefit to the company, so make sure he or she is picking up a valuable experience.

For more ways to keep your program legit and rewarding, read 7 Things That Are Ruining Your Company’s Internship Program.

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For a Former Atlantic Intern, Payback is More Than Just Personal

katharinerust.jpgBy Katharine Rust

The recent news of the Atlantic Media Company‘s decision to not only pay their current interns, but retroactively pay those who interned in their first “academy” — a six-month, full-time, unpaid internship last fall — is not only fantastic on a personal level, but on a higher level, as well.

I was one of those interns, toiling away 10-12 hour days for six months, surviving off whatever I could garner bartending in the fratastic D.C. neighborhood of Adams Morgan on weekends. Did my friends and family think I was crazy to work for free? Of course, but I loved it and relished every opportunity offered to me while I was there.

Besides, I knew going into it that I was going to struggle, but from my experience as an editor at a magazine in New York and as an intern at various magazines before that — all of which were unpaid — struggle, I’ve learned, is a part of the business of journalism. It’s a creative field, it’s competitive and because of both, I’ve found that employers have the upper hand in every way possible. (I may come off as bitter, but it’s hard to swallow two title promotions in four years with no increase in income and a boss telling you to ask your parents for money.) So my decision to take an unpaid, full-time internship was conflicting, yes, but coming from a place where I was already struggling with the amount I was being paid, it was easier to justify the work without the monetary compensation when I could solidly say I loved what I was doing.

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