Editorial: Keeping the internship worthwhile

By Staff Editorial

Since state labor officials in Oregon and California have examined the legality of unpaid… Since state labor officials in Oregon and California have examined the legality of unpaid internships, interns have more clout to argue that stirring coffee and un-jamming copy machines shouldn’t be part of their job description.

The U.S. Department of Labor recently created a list of six points that outlines qualifiers for legal unpaid internships.

A dedicated intern could be inclined not to complain when it comes to monotonous jobs that are of questionable value, yet poor performance at an internship could hurt career goals.

Fortunately, someone’s standing up for the often-helpless intern.

Before, the intern had to suck it up. Now, one of the department’s regulations says that an internship is designed to benefit the intern — not the company.

With the turbulent economy, these regulations come at an important time. Some companies are creating more unpaid internship positions because they’re monetarily costless. Fifty percent of graduating college students held internships in 2008, up from 17 percent in 1992, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, The New York Times reported.

While the economy might be turning around, employers who’ve created more unpaid intern positions have more reason to put interns to work and see that they work hard.

If they’re doing legitimate jobs — as they legally must — the experience becomes almost certainly one where the intern will learn. If the intern works and learns more than how his boss likes his coffee, he’s more than just a source of free, menial help, and that’s exactly how the internship should be.