Unpaid Internships: What’s your take, arlisnappers?

The topic of unpaid internships is an important one around the world at the moment. In June, a federal court in New York found that interns working on the set for the movie Black Swan should have been paid for their work; they performed tasks that were essential to the production of the movie, and received no additional training beyond the typical on-the-job training received by other employees (LawFuel Editors, 2013). Because of this, the court ruled that Fox Searchlight did not meet the requirements for having unpaid interns, which can be read here: http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.pdf

In Canada, the legal issues surrounding unpaid internships are not clearly defined; labour laws are under provincial jurisdiction, and only Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec have regulations concerning interns in place (MacKinnon, 2013). Complaints were recently filed by past interns of Bell Mobility, who were promised a learning opportunity, and instead found themselves performing menial work such as phone surveys (Tomlinson, 2013).

This Wednesday, July 17th, interns working in the European Union gathered in Brussels to protest working conditions. One of the organizers of the protest noted that those who can’t afford to work without pay are at a disadvantage to those who can gain valuable experience through unpaid internships (Kharpal, 2013).


As emerging professionals, unpaid internships are sometimes our only way to gain experience relevant to our field. ArLiSNAP would like to hear from you: what’s your take on unpaid internships? Have you had any positive or negative experiences with this type of position? Would you give any advice to those considering an unpaid internship?


Kharpal, A. (2013, July 17). Brussels interns protest working conditions, lack of pay. CNBC. Retrieved from http://www.cnbc.com/id/100892173

LawFuel Editors. (2013, July 15). Unpaid Internships: Legal Risks Highlighted by New Court Decision. LawFuel. Retrieved from http://www.lawfuel.com/unpaid-internships/

MacKinnon, L. (2013, July 4). Interns face patchwork of rules, even on Parliament Hill. CBC. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/story/2013/07/03/pol-unpaid-interns-no-federal-policy.html

Tomlinson, K. (2013, June 24). Bell accused of breaking labour law with unpaid interns. CBC. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/thenational/indepthanalysis/gopublic/story/2013/06/21/bc-unpaid-interns.html

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