Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Journalism Internships Are A Joke (Financially). Period.

Journalism internships are crock.

Let me explain.

Journalism internships are inhumane.

Not because many times the clerical or "bitch" work, as it's often called, does not live up to the potential starry-eyed expectations of a budding journalist.

Not because they can be difficult to obtain.

Not because they often lack any educational (read: real-world) value.

Not because they may be extraordinarily busy and taxing, or, the very opposite, completely unstimulating.

Journalism internships are inhumane because they completely ignore the basic living needs of their interns.

I'm not talking about free housing or meals. What I'm talking about are living wages.

Shelter. Food. Transportation.

A large majority of journalism internships, by major media companies or otherwise, are completely unpaid. Those that are, by comparison, are paltry sums - often less than minimum wage or a pittance of a stipend. The few that are neither of these - TIME and Newsweek come to mind - are ravenously pursued by applicants, and locked down before the calendar year changes.

Interns are people. Ambitious, willing people. All people need to support themselves. Not all interns have unpaid time to spare. Not all interns still receive help from Mom and Dad - some never do. Some are in their early 20s and doing exactly what they're being told - pushing out on their own, financially.

The idealistic point of an internship is to be educational and to serve as a stepping-stone to a future job. The current use of an internship is a near-requirement for a future job.

But largely, journalism internships are useless.

Let me explain.

I live in New York City, media capital of the world. I am a graduating senior in college. I live on my own, without help from my parents. The only way I subsist is through a combination of educational loans and two jobs. I have tried my very best to make those jobs relevant to my interests - primarily journalism.

But it is financially impossible for an intern in school to live independently in an urban center and still pursue his or her career without simply abandoning education altogether and searching for a full-time job.

Let's examine this:

The minimum wage in New York City is currently $7.15 per hour, up from $6.75 in 2006.

Now, let's do some math and compare:

The large majority of internships, specifically in the summer, are unpaid (Conde Nast, for example). Many require at least two to three days a week. If an intern were to find another job to supplement this endeavor, at $10 per hour (a common rate for a basic job in NYC), the intern would make $960 per month (at 8 hours per day, 3 days a week for 4 weeks) BEFORE taxes are taken out.

Some internships pay a small hourly amount or stipend. These internships often require 35+ hours per week. At $7 per hour, the current Hearst rate, that means $1,120 a month (8 hours/day for 5 days a week for 4 weeks) BEFORE taxes are taken out. For a stipend of $15 - common, about enough to pay for the subway both ways and an average lunch in NYC - this leaves nothing, with no opportunity of working a second job to find additional income.

With a rent of $700 - quite affordable by NYC standards - $100 for utilities, and $76 for a subway pass per month, that's almost $900. This excludes food in its entirety.

(Before this becomes an issue, I am leaving weekends out of this. Not only does any sane human need time off, but even if someone wanted to work weekends, it is a near impossibility to find a job - an internship, in this case - relevant to journalism on the weekends. Waiting tables is about it.)

Compare $900 for shelter ONLY with the $0, $960 pre-tax and $1,120 pre-tax above. This is a completely unacceptable living standard - a standard that only those dedicated enough to ensure their own finances pursue in the first place.

Interns are humans. They offer the service of work. Less than often, they receive the "educational experience" they come for. They should, at minimum, be paid accordingly for their time.

Look, I understand the draw of a nonpaid internship at a major, high-profile publication. The prestige is undeniable. But don't these companies have minimal funds to spare? For, often times, work that is often usually done by a full-time, paid employee? A researcher? A fact-checker? An assistant to the editor-in-chief?

Secondly, what if you already have a prestigious internship under your belt? Do you need another? No, you've accomplished that well enough, and your resume can afford to take an internship at a lower-profile publication for actual pay.

Problem is, these publications think they can offer unpaid internships, too.

Really, how many times have you seen "NO-NAME MAGAZINE" offering unpaid internships? Why? Never heard of it! And then you want me to work for you for free? Side-by-side with full-time employees the same age as me? And assume that I'm learning a lot because 1) you say I am, 2) you're a publication, 3) I'm working closely with the 'editor,' one of three total people on staff, and 4) clerical duties really subscribe to an experience an internship can provide but a secretary job can't?

And did I mention that, arguments about the educational or experiential value of an internship aside, they don't provide support for the minimum living wages of one person yet demand the time necessary to provide at least that minimum in lieu of internship wages?

Why don't young journalists just go and get secretary jobs? At least those pay more than $30,000 a year in NYC - for the same type of work: photocopies, bills, contracts, schedules, phone calls, etc.!

And why, then, do applicants still pursue these internships? Are they out of their mind? Or is it a reflection of the persistence of parents to support their children way beyond legal adulthood?

Here's some hypothetical food for thought: I'm a hypothetical intern who does not have parental help and is in-between (summer, or post-grad) without educational loan support. If I didn't have to spend my entire day worrying about putting dinner on the table and making rent (and believe me, I'm worrying - I've already got my timesheet itemized and calculated, really, for the whole summer), wouldn't I be SO much more attuned to contributing, in a positive way, to the publication? If I didn't come in every day and sit next to a full-time employee of the same age (whose only worry is seemingly what club they'll be going to this weekend) wondering why I'm there and not pursuing a full-time job of my own, wouldn't I be much more helpful and less distracted? As this hypothetical intern, I simply cannot appreciate my internship, because I'm too worried about food (and I'm already brown-bagging PB&J). What this really becomes is an evaluation of value: what's worth more? A resume piece or my own well-being and stability?

I understand internships are a supposed benefit, but in journalism, they're seen as a near-requirement - yet someone in HR forgot to notice that, somehow, these people must finance their own lives. Sure, we must sacrifice for the future - but there is a difference between living frugally and simply being unable to, period.

Why is this such an oversight? No rational human being in the HR department could knowledgeably admit that this is sufficient. Can they?

This is why journalism internships are crock.

An intern would give 50 or 60 hours a week if they did not have to worry about basic living needs. Interns are rarely freshmen in dorms - these are more often older, independent people who need to find support yet can't commit to a long-haul salary job because of the very education they need to pursue said job (and are pursuing).

The price of being responsible? Amibitious? Rational? I don't know. But it's just not right.

When did such a low-paying industry become so elite?

Journalism internships are financially inhumane to independent interns. And things need to change.

UPDATE 7:23p: Romenesko picked this post up and paired it with an excellent article by Martin Kuz in SF Weekly on how media companies may be violating state labor law by underpaying non-student interns. My question: what about New York (New York)? Or D.C. (Washington)? Or Illinois (Chicago)? The article on California is a help, but what about where the majority of media companies are?

39 comments:

Greg said...

No pay internships also, unwittingly, discriminate in favor of the financially advantaged , who can afford to work without pay.

The Editorialiste said...

Thanks for commenting, Greg. You're absolutely right. These internships are completely discriminatory in this way.

I'm an almost-graduate who monitors his finances meticulously, has almost no credit card debt, a full plate of federal loans but lives independently.

And, as an intern, I basically have to consider most internships with full-knowledge that I'm putting myself in a hole before I even begin.

So how hard, then, is it for someone who, for financial reasons, never got the chance to go to a great college - or one at all - to pursue his or her dream of being a journalist by interning?

Borderline impossible, I'd say.

Sure, internships aren't a right - but are they really serving their goals?

Not if they discriminate.

Wayne Myers said...

Thank you! I also fault journalism schools for encouraging this practice that reduces our profession. There is a severe leadership gap here and they simply should not recommend that students take unpaid internships. Maybe then media will take notice. More and more this is a profession that expects its journalists to work for a pittance. Dispicable. In J-school, professors would make comments like, "I hope you're not expecting to get rich in journalism." The sad thing is the salary they have in mind is one that you can actually live on. Not now. That's how out of touch they are. Some of the top J-schools schools have abdicated journalism leadership.
Wayne Myers

fashion theory said...

I agree with your post completely! However, one issue that I have with the legality of unpaid interns, etc, is that in the last few years there has been a shift towards using only interns that can get school credit for interning.

That a) eliminates people who are done school and want to get into the industry (because it's nearly impossible to get into journalism or magazines in my experience without internships or experience of some kind) and b) makes students PAY for a "course" in photocopying and coffee runs (or writing or whatever they do at their internship).

So it sucks.

The Editorialiste said...

@Wayne: I agree. It's sad that elitism has crept into the schools themselves, to the point where the pay is criticized by those making the money. What's there to complain about when interns aren't making anything? Leadership is important, but leadership for all...not just those paying.

@fashion: You're right - the "credit" idea has definitely been pushed as of late, and it definitely has made it close to impossible for anyone older than college age or not in college at all. Plus, why should a student be using his college time for such an internship? At some top schools, that's hundreds of dollars per credit - financially, that means you're actually paying for such an experience! Ridiculous, especially when the internship may not be at all educational.

@ all of you: Thank for commenting. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who has noticed this phenomenon.

Hans Laetz said...

In 1976, when I entered the University of Arizona journalism college, it had a firm rule: no internship credit would be granted by the department.

As a result, in 1977 I was offered a fulltime summer reporting job at a rural newspaper: $600 a week, then a princely sum. I was a hardworker, a good writer, and I earned every penny. We won some national investigative awards.

Today, that job would be filled with one or more college interns.

What is the matter with people today? If I were getting no pay for a job that my employers called an internship, I would visit a lawyer and file for back wages in a heartbeat.

What is next, corporate america? Indentured servitude?

zach said...

It's not just the internship for journalists. Your post caught my eye as a dissilusioned mathematics major. After seeing that most math majors end up either teaching or doing marketing for random companies, and hearing that almost NOBODY gets jobs that have to do with their major, I realized that at 15k/year, killing myself to get homework done was just idiotic.

I work and get certified so that I can make money. It's that simple. Colleges and universities have become ends in and of themselves- just like graduating high school. A while back I read that people who take time to get their degree are actually no better off than people who just work their butts off. Same amount of work, except the non-student isn't saddled with thousands in debt!

College? Been there, done that. It's not in my financial interest.

The Editorialiste said...

@hans: It's easy to say the old days were the good old days, but it seems neither era is good enough: the '70s restricted your education, the present restricts your finances. If only we could ameliorate learning and earning!

@zach: You're absolutely right, and I came upon this discussion talking to my girlfriend about art internships. The industry/major doesn't necessarily matter - the "intern problem" is rampant throughout (although, for the purposes of this blog, media is of focus.)

However, I wouldn't go so far as to say college is unnecessary and not worth the financial burden - sometimes it is. It's all what you make of it. If you can better put your energies to work, and you're reaping nothing from college, maybe it's not worth the tens of thousands of dollars (and for some, including me, over a hundred thousand). It's a personal decision, I think. But I think we can all agree that there's a serious imbalance in America when the price of education makes one reevaluate its worth.

@both: Thanks for commenting!

Rachel said...

I do wish more internships paid, and I do wish that the ones that paid, paid better.

But last summer I interned at a magazine in Manhattan. Without pay. I worked my ass off the semester before to first pay off my debt and then build up some savings, which I supplemented with income from a part-time job during the days I wasn't writing. Yes, I waited tables. I did what I had to do to survive. And I'm the better for it. This summer, I'm taking a paid internship in a smaller city. I would never have gotten that had I not put in my dues first.

It sucks, but it's doable. And honestly, never over the summer did I have to worry about where my next meal was coming from. I had enough money for rent, food, and even some entertainment. I even got to take a vacation in the middle of it.

It seems you're very opposed to the idea of taking any money for non-journalism work. Is it possible that your unpaid internship choices would hire you on as a copyeditor or fact checker part-time? Something unglamorous you can do to bring in some money on the days (yes, weekends too) you're not doing the real reporter's work. If not, consider waiting tables.

Good luck.

The Editorialiste said...

@rachel: The thing is, I already have unpaid and paid internships at major publications under my belt, and I've been supplementing that time with another job's income. But in all, it's not enough to make ends meet, and unpaid internships will fall to the wayside when my school loans stop making up the difference.

The thing is, I'm not opposed to doing unglamorous or unrelated work - it's that I've already done it. I've been working unrelated jobs since I was 15; with a college degree and at age 22, why should I be doing unrelated work? I don't need to waste any more time doing those things. But if I'm considering grad school (and I am), I'm stuck making the wages of a freshman in college....but the thing is, I don't have Mom, Dad, or the federal government to support that past getting the bachelor's. See what I mean?

(That said, I'd gladly take a research/fact-checking position. Find any?)

So, so many journalists, young and old, talk about "paying their dues." You know what? I'm just weary of that statement. Just because that's how it's been done doesn't mean that's how it needs to be. Should we all go into the armed forces too, to 'pay our dues' as many people our age did? I'd beg to differ.

So really, I'm not complaining about work or living on my own. I'm complaining about the inability of someone who isn't subsidized by parents or educational loans.

You stuck it out for a summer, but then you moved to a smaller city. I'm here for good, and I've been here much longer than a summer. I did what you did last summer - I made it work between an unrelated job and a major internship. But what about this summer? And during the school year? And the following?

Believe me, New York City rent isn't so bad if you can subsidize it, even with previously earned money. I didn't think it was so bad when I first moved here. But once that few-thousand-dollar financial buffer disappeared over time, I didn't have anything left to rely on. So I'm at paycheck-to-paycheck, and the outlook's pretty bleak.

(And I've heard the "well move to another city then!" thing before, and I think it's hogwash. Media is here. Opportunities are here. Why move away?)

With the inability to commit to a salaried position, but the very real necessity to pay rent in full, I and many others are stuck. And that is precisely what I'm concerned about.

Thank you for commenting!

Anonymous said...

it's not limited to journalism... the entertainment industry largely only offers unpaid internships. However, in this case, State Law requires interns to be receiving college credit for their internship, or there has to be pay. Yes, it makes it harder for those not in college to break in, and it means you're paying to make photocopies... but at least it keeps companies from essentially staffing their businesses by the use of unpaid "interns" who are doing work no different from anyone else.

I was only able to complete my internship by taking out student loans to cover the time. Luckily, the company I worked for hired me right after I finished the internship, so it didn't end badly.

Anonymous said...

You say Journalism internships as if they are exclusive from all the other internships in the world. It's not just journalism, it's all internships. I interned at a marine biology research center, and did I get paid? nooope. Just pointing it out to you- unpaid Journalism internships aren't anything out of the ordinary or different from all the other internships...

The Editorialiste said...

@Anonymous: You're both right. This phenomenon isn't limited to journalism, but the subject of this blog is. That's why there's no mention of anything else!

Anonymous #1, I think you're a great example of why this is such a problem. You had to take out loans just to cover an internship. That's something that is completely contradictory to what an internship ideally is. It's not pay-to-play, that's for sure! And since the laws vary state to state, there's no guarantee of any basic rights.

Anonymous #2, your previous internship sounds fascinating, but remember: just because that's the "norm" doesn't mean it's just.

@both: Thanks for commenting!
(please leave your names next time...I love reading my reader's blogs!)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Filtnib said...

Editorialiste, this is all so true. I'm British, doing an unpaid internship at the moment in London and it's really, really difficult to make ends meet. The internship was originally 3 months long; they've asked me to stay for 4 months and in fact said please can I stay as long as I can because it's going well. But I'm struggling to stay even 3 months. The only reason I can afford it is because sadly my grandma died last year and left me some money which is just enough to cover my rent for 3 and a half months. Meanwhile my student loan remains unpaid and the interest is rising.
On the plus side I'm getting to pitch for and write real, serious articles, which is great for my portfolio, but my parents are like, if you're writing so much for them, they obviously need/value you, why can't they pay you? Which is also true.
The magazine is American and my boss says at the offices in New York there are corridors of empty rooms where staff used to sit but who have now been made redundant. He says it's just a general down turn in print journalism that creates such a competitive job market that papers/mags can be so cheeky and get work for free.
I just applied for an internship at slate.com because I'm thinking internet journalism may be the way forward and I love their stuff. Anyway, I didn't get it, but it was paid, though not much, so might be worth considering for some of you guys.

Samuel Rubenfeld said...

"Touch this, FCC" is my blog identity, and I agree with you completely. I am a 20-year-old college sophomore who lucked into a paid internship for a large newspaper for the summer. However, the pay is insufficient for independence, and I will have to commute from my parents home to work at the paper. I will most definitely be the photocopier, as my title is officially "Support Staff" Intern...though there are reporting positions for the grad students interning there.
What I feel no one is addressing is the corporate influence on journalism and journalists. Newspapers (Tribune's sale notwithstanding) are increasingly owned by publicly traded corporations who seek profits on the high side of 20 per cent. No press organization can do that without downsizing its newsroom, treating potential interns as unpaid indentured servants and demoralizing those students that can't get involved. If we (as the youth) want to bring back the "glory days" of journalism, since we are all heady idealists at heart, we need to push for private ownership of newspapers, so long as the owner has no input on editorial content. A private owner would likely understand the plight of a student intern, because one who owns a newspaper does not do it for the profit, they do it for the public service.

I want to thank you once again for exposing this gaping hole in the education system.

Anonymous said...

And I thought the Baltimore Examiner was better than the rest cause they'd pay my cell phone and mass transit....

Yeah, we're all getting fucked.

- junior, print, UMD

The Editorialiste said...

@filtnib: First, sorry it took me so long to respond - I did read your comments. Thank you for your comments from across the pond - they're so valuable in looking at the big picture. Internships are a problem, worldwide. My advice for you? Finish out that internship. Keep on pitching, but don't be afraid to get a job that pays in the meantime. You can build your clips outside of work - some of my best were off-the-cuff and unrelated to my 9-to-5. I'm terribly sorry about your grandmother, but use her generation as inspiration to perservere. We've got different challenges to face, but nothing less substantial. Of course, keep applying and writing and don't give up!

@Samuel: I admit, I enjoyed the title of your blog. You're right - corporate culture has descended heavily onto newsrooms. Just look at the recent Tribune sale - bought by a man who has no prior experience in journalism at all on either side of the room! I don't know if a private owner will do the trick, but I do know that things need to change. Keep on working that internship, keep on writing those reviews, and diversify. College is short, so enjoy your time at Hofstra...but make it work for what you want to do.

@both: Thank you so much for commenting!

All the best,
The Editorialiste.

Anonymous said...

Thought you might be interested in checking out CubReporters.org, an online career guide for young journalists and college students.

The Editorialiste said...

@anonymous: Thanks, Mark. A good pooling of resources - I look forward to seeing you flesh out more information in the future on your new site.

Thanks for reading,
The Editorialiste.

Bunty said...

hey i do agree with ur view buddy but i have a different point to offer...i recently joined a news channel as an intern, but they do not dare to consider me their part...and on tghe other side i have governable curiosity to know the things...and another thing is that i am an intellectual non-conformist so i cant believe what they call their greatness,if its really their greatness they have to define it to me, i just blindly cant accept it...
so moral of d story is that the organization dont dare to accept interns as their part, however it is important in the sense that it gives a chance to the freshers to be in the organizational atmosphere as well as to confront the real realities of the field!
- VIKAS RAJPOPAT

Anonymous said...

As a journalism major in search of an internship at the current moment, I couldn't agree more. It's very discouraging trying to find an internship in an area I would enjoy living in...but also afford.

Undeniably, to take on an unpaid internship one also has to take on a part-time job to actually support oneself. Right away you're limited. Sometimes I wonder why I chose the major I did...

Fahima Haque said...

i unfortunately completely understand. I'm a current college student scrambling to find a journalism internship and it's actually painful. I'm glad someone else understands this frustrating dilemma. I should just change my major while I'm ahead of the game.

Annie Jia said...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for posting this. I've done two unpaid journalism internships in the past seven months. When I like the work, it seems ok. It is those hours when I'm finishing up a - unpaid - transcription at home for fear that not finishing will give my boss a bad impression, and staying after everyone else in the office is gone, to stuff envelopes - that the feeling of exploitation really sinks in. But whether or not I like the work, I have definitely gone into unsustainable levels of debt. The financial toll wouldn't be terrible if it were just numbers. It is the psychological toll of it all that is inhumane. Thank you again for posting. I greatly admire you for doing so. Doing it through good writing is even better.

Feel free to check out my blog, too (plug). I might muster up the courage to write something about this as well.

Annie Jia said...

So how do we band together, like these socialistic European youth, to change this practice in this industry?
http://www.cafebabel.com/ger/article/
24613/exploiting-unpaid-interns-rites-
of-passage.html

C. M. Patrick said...

Great article.
I think the financial implications of studying journalism begin at the undergraduate level, and they’ll probably run until the graduate eventually qualifies as a senior reporter.
Consider that a graduate pays postgraduate course fees of up to £12,000, plus accommodation and living costs, and then enters into a commercial sector where a trainee reporter can expect to earn around £17,000 a year in England, and it is clear that the figures don’t balance.
Let's also assume the graduate still has a heavy undergraduate debt. This is also a year out of work for the student after already graduating, so there's no money coming in until they (hopefully) find a job after they qualify.
I don’t doubt the dedication of journalism students. Postgraduate courses are self- funded, so unless the student is incredibly wealthy, they are not taken up lightly by people with just a passing interest in media.
Most journalism students are passionate about their writing, and they are willing to do almost anything to succeed in their chosen career, including unpaid work experience.
Coupled with a high competition for a diminishing number of jobs in the light of the general squeeze in the industry, and students have to work incredibly hard to find employment.
It's straightforward to understand why employers do not need to offer paid work experience.
In a highly competitive market of skilled workers who have proven they are willing to pay massive amounts to study the course, are passionate, determined and dedicated to their work, employers can dangle unpaid work experience opportunities into the market and expect them to be snapped up.
This is the profession we chose. It’s highly competitive, it may be low- paid, and it is incredibly hard work.
It is unfair that it seems only people with rich parents or savings can support themselves through that tough final stage, but perhaps would- be writers don’t want to work in a news company that shrugs off its responsibility to support the next generation, just because it can.
So far, I’ve only ever had good experiences with volunteer work. I’ve never expected to be paid, because if it’s good training, and work is getting published, you’re getting a lot out of it already.
If they’re irresponsibly wasting your time, and telling you to make coffee, then you walk out. There can’t be any point putting that you completed two weeks at a top news agency if you have nothing tangible to show for it.
I can understand the frustration of seeing your peers being paid to do the same work as you intern next to them, but in that case it can only be a matter of time before you’re recognised. Best of luck to you.

Pavla said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pavla said...

Amen. I live in London and although some places pay expenses most try to get away with ridiculous nonexistent pay. I know we're not supposed to complain and pay our dues but it's tough and that deserves a mention. I know it sounds cheesy but good for you for talking about it openly. Many just think people should stop bitching and get on with work, but if it can do any good, I think it's worth talking about.

Sam Parker said...

Can't decide whether this was uplifting or depressing!

I am one of the idiots currently searching for a journalism intership... it's wearing me down just finding someone prepared to give me a chance, let alone pay me. It seems a first class degree and all the dedication to student/local journalism in the world doesn't mean a thing.

Depressing times. Interesting point well made though, thanks!

Anonymous said...

This is a great piece. As a recent college graduate (English BA), who has been in a journalism internship for nearly 4 weeks, I concur and more!

When I complete my first interning week, and I knew journalism was not for me. Yet, I'd figure I'd stick through it since I worked with great people. However, that newspaper, as I knew, was temporary and after 2 weeks I was transferred to the real one. Now, not only am I unpaid and the work is taxing, I have a nightmarish editor.

The type that belittles you instead of constructively criticizing you, that does not want you to ask questions and just get your work done. Her favorite response to me on any context is "Whatever."

I work only part-time, 5-6 hours every weekday, but I want to metaphorically shoot myself. I am so exhausted and anxious now I can hardly fathom working a part time job as well.

The only thing keeping me at the internship is the great people I interview, making them happy, and publications.

Being that I don't want to be a journalist now, it's tempting to not finish the 2 months.

Thank you for your article. And, I commend all the unpaid, journalism internships working for nothing, meeting deadlines, writing 2-3+ quality articles a week, trying to keep factually correct, and everything else.

Anonymous said...

^And, you can tell by my poor grammar, my brain is a malfunctioning lump of mush after working a long day at the office.

Anonymous said...

At 46 years old and disabled by severe pain from degenerative discs in my cervical spine (neck), thoracic spine (mid-back), lumbar spine (lower back), along with severe carpal tunnel in both hands and wrists that causes me to wake up with my hands, wrists and arms burning, I'm certain the lousy pay (I never earned more than $10 an hour) and the endless amount of work I was overwhelmed with as a reporter, editor, writer, managing editor, etc. contributed to my disability.

If a single college instructor in the 1980s would have told me that journalism was such a low-paying or no-paying field, I never would have pursued it. But they outright lied about the pay. No matter how large the paper or how many positions for which I applied once I had my B.A., except when working overtime at only one job, I never once made more than $9.50 an hour after 15 years in the field.

One more thing: I found by spending a lot of time "picking the brains" of various publishers, etc., that they consider journalism grads as having no value ("J-school grads are a dime a dozen!"), being stupid (because so many consistently take non-paying jobs) and therefore, no surprise here, as objects, not people. Most every publisher I spoke to considered himself or herself as a critical part of the newspaper while they had no respect for, and sometimes even joked about how far they could push, anyone with a degree in journalism.

This is the worst field one can get a degree in, and I believe it will go the way the nursing field did for years: If enough people are smart, they will get out of the field and move on to something in medicine or ... well, I can't think of any other jobs that require a degree right now that cannot or have already been outsourced.

Is it too late for you to go back to school for something else? Journalism is a competitive, low paid, stress- and pain-inducing field that truthfully isn't worth it. The more work was required of me, the more I lost my love of writing: The very thing that prompted me to pursue the field.

Rachel said...

I just stumbled upon this brilliant post! I am online searching for fellow college graduates who are fed up with being unable to gain experience in the field of their choice because they are already out of school, (so no internship!), yet don't have the 1-2+ years of previous experience these companies are looking for. I know your post is in response to college students being unable to afford having an unpaid internship and I can sympathize with that, as well. I know plenty of people who never could have survived with an unpaid internship during college and now they are struggling to get their foot in the door in these particular industries. I feel internships are definitely geared towards students who are getting everything paid for by mom and dad. Luckily, there are a few who can make it by working part-time jobs on the side and that's great!

Whatever happened to apprenticeships?? The idea of learning a trade and getting paid to do so. Employers would expect the apprentice to have little to no previous experience in the field, (just like an intern), yet they could still get paid a living wage and gain the experience they need! It saddens me to think of how many talented people there are who struggled to find work in the field they are passionate about but were unable to for these reasons. Now they are stuck in a job they probably hate because they have to pay the bills. The people who get the opportunity to do these unpaid internships at prestigious newspapers, magazines, TV stations, etc., and then get paid positions based on their internship, should consider themselves very lucky. There are a lot of people who would love to be in their shoes.

used textbooks said...

guys, seriously?

You have an internship opportunity (paid or unpaid), take it! It's something that you can put on your resume that will help you land on better opportunities later.

Audio Visual Recruitment said...

I think the things you covered through the post are quiet impressive, good job and great efforts. I found it very interesting and enjoyed reading all of it...keep it up, lovely job…

Lauren said...

Stumbled across this post by mistake and loved it!
I graduate with my degree in journalism next year and have been saving for the past two years to prepare for the possibility that I will have to do unpaid internships.
It's exactly the same over here in the UK, with most high-profile magazines and newspapers in London, one of the most expensive places in the world to live.
It's sad that companies have decided to take advantage of graduates in this way.

Ryan Todd Herzog said...

What about the fact that the news business is shrinking and less money is going to news companies these days? Isn't that a factor in why internships are unpaid, because they don't have any money to spare?

Anonymous said...

This post made me smile and cry at the same time. Smile because you are so on point. I was JUST having this conversation with my sister. And Cry because this is an unfortunate reality. Great job...hopefully these editorial departments will read this and hang their heads in shame...better yet...just start paying us.

Naomi said...

This is so freaking true!!! I'm about to graduate with a degree in Journalism, and I have no idea what to do! My parents don't help me pay for housing, school, or even a car. I'm really stressed, because everyone says you need to have an internship in Journalism BEFORE graduation. Yet, I'm struggling just to make ends meet and purchase a car. I've tried looking online for online internships/jobs, but no one has answered my resumes or anything. Then, the internships I could get are in expensive places like New York or California!! Wtheck!!