Category Archives: WTF?!

MASS MoCA’s internship “opportunity”: 50+ hours/week at $2/hour

It isn’t a new practice – non-profit institutions recruiting free labor under the guise of providing a benefit for the “greater good” like education and contribution to the community. While there is no section of labor law that magically exempts non-profits from having to pay wages to a worker it dubs an “intern,” it is all too common to see non-profits take advantage of a common—if mistaken—perception that labor laws simply do not apply to them. Even “volunteer” work is not a blank-check for non-profit employers to do with what they want.  We need to make it clear that “opportunities” such as the one offered by the institution MASS MoCA are not created for the benefit of young art workers, but are rather a way for the organization to construct highly ambitious programs on the backs of others. The museum’s website is currently advertising a call for interns, offering $2/hour pay for more than full time work (50+ hours/week) with a commitment of four months and without the ability to take off more than three consecutive days. Interns are given housing, but no meal or travel stipend. From the detailed descriptions of the offered positions, it seems evident that they will, in reality, serve as temporary, full-time, experienced laborers in an institution that claims in its mission statement that it is “forcefully” committed to “work…hard to leverage the arts as a catalyst for community revitalization.” We feel the museum should ask itself – if the revitalization of a community happens on the backs of mostly unpaid workers, who does that ultimately benefit?

Some may argue that the museum may not be able to budget for better paid internships, but MASS MoCA’s tax records indicate that the museum director makes in excess of $200,000 a year. In the same manner that money is raised in order to pay this generous salary, funds could be raised and allocated to ensure that everyone working in this institution is fairly compensated, not just the executive branch.  Perhaps the worst part about MASS MoCA’s posting is that by offering sub-minimum wage pay and housing for exploitative work, they fit squarely into an art world built on the backs of unpaid and underpaid interns. The museum’s posting doesn’t look that unusual next to unpaid internships from countless other art institutions big and small—exploitative labor is the order of the day within art institutions, not an oddity or an exception. Until the entire industry comes under serious pressure to change from art workers, we can expect positions like these to keep coming up.

We have pasted the posting below in full, and highlighted select areas that we feel particularly go against the very purpose of an internship – to provide an environment where individuals entering the field are given the opportunity to learn new skills, rather than bring their already well-honed abilities for the use of the institution at little to no cost. If non-profits refuse to act on the social responsibility their 501(c)(3) status purports to require, we feel we should at the very least make their exploitative labor practices known. Join us. Continue reading

Discretionary pay for “superstar intern”!

Shecky’s – a media company that organizes events geared towards women – runs an internship program for “superstar interns” for all their superstar departments that make up their business, including marketing, events, business development, sales, design, editorial, and the list goes on!  An anonymous tipster who responded to their ad on for a “Paid Editorial Internship” went through the hiring process and alerted us to the vagueness of their compensation policy (reminder: Shecky’s is a for-profit business, thus the law requires that they pay!):

I went through the entire hiring process with them unaware that the internship was paid below minimum wage, and even asked them whether it was (to which they replied in a somewhat indirect manner), until I found myself on the first day of the internship with the attached “contract” staring me in the face. Needless to say, I refused to sign it and walked out.

I probably would not have bothered to report this if it stopped there, but I should also note that the only pay is discretionary from $500-$1250 for the entire period of the internship, so they can simply decide to pay you nothing for any reason. When I asked one of the supervisors how they decide what the pay is, he replied, “If you spend five hours taking a ‘break’… if you smoke crack in the office… we ain’t paying you.”
Shecky’s seems to have quite the reputation of not paying up, so the mention of “discretionary pay” in their hiring process should sound major alarms for anyone looking to work with them or even attending their events. It is up to all of us to tell them what we think of their labor practices!
Do you have an experience you would like to share? Email us at We promise to keep your identity anonymous in our report of your story.

Unpaid Internships Really Great Experiences For America’s Finest News Source

NEWS IN BRIEF • News • Business • ISSUE 49•33 • Aug 13, 2013


CHICAGO—Following the departure of their spring and summer interns in Graphic Design, Writing/Research, and Business Analysis, executives at The Onion, an American multimedia news organization, reflected on how these multiple internships had turned out to be really positive experiences for their for-profit publication. “Going into the program we weren’t really sure what to expect, but by the end we realized just how much we had gotten out of it,” said Human Resource Manager Katie Pontius. Interns like Erin, Sara, and Jason reportedly provided the company with 3 to 4 full days per week of free or low-paid labor with no benefits for over the course of 3 to 5 months. “It was an invaluable opportunity for us, giving these interns a chance to work in note-taking, conducting research, gathering visual references, organizing and editing visual references for directors, image searching, assisting on photo shoots and prop run, prepping elements for photo shoots, compiling and distributing internal reports, implementing and maintaining internal process improvements, ad hoc analysis and reporting. Their ability of working independently, and their wealth of skills ranging from Final Draft, Final Cut, Photoshop, Illustrator, Excel, really keep our publication running. In fact, we had such great experiences, we’ve decided to keep hiring interns to conduct all facets of our business!” At press time, sources confirmed that multiple paid entry-level writers, research assistants, graphic designers and business analysts at Onion Inc. had just received pink slips.

Source: Unpaid Internships Really Great Experiences For Local Company by the Onion.


Tagged , , ,

Bargain at $225K/year

Courtesy Wronging Rights:

Do you have an interest in human rights and / or climate change? Are you “able to provide a resume”? Do you have 30,000 extra dollars lying around? Do you love the idea of working for free so much that you want to pay to do it? And are you tired of pesky internship selection processes in which applicants are unfairly pitted against each other on the basis of their actual qualifications for the position (and / or nepotism)?

Well, good news.

The RFK Center has the auction item for you. It’s a 6 week internship with the NGO Committee on Human Rights. All you have to do is fork over five figures plus $9.95 shipping and handling. (Apparently they’re going to mail the internship to you? I don’t know.)

Bidding’s currently at $26,000.


Roberta’s: Pay Your Interns!

Open Letter to Robertas from Intern Labor Rights

April 12, 2013

To Whom It May Concern at Roberta’s,

It has recently come to the public’s—and our—attention that your company solicited for free labor via an ad on Craigslist, specifically for labor to provide value to the restaurant by working in your garden (“Urban Farm looking for Intern”). As the public’s response and press attention no doubt illustrate, this has touched a nerve with many, certainly not least because of how this runs counter to the brand image Roberta’s has cultivated of promoting economic vitality in the community. It probably felt natural to draw on associations of urban gardening with true community-owned and -managed gardens, gardens that exist because of the sweat and toil of neighborhood volunteers, gardens which are not privately owned, but owned by the people, recognized as part of a commons so often lost to privatization and the forces of gentrification.

We invite you to reconsider the factors that apparently have led you to initiate an employment relationship that is likely in violation of state and federal minimum wage laws. And not only that: We call on you to cease employing unpaid interns—implicitly relying on their low power status to keep them from filing legal claims for the wages they may be due by law—and to make a public statement denouncing the widespread practice of employers profiting from the valuable work performed by unpaid interns.

We presume that your initial decision was not rooted in a conscious disregard for the law or the ethics underlying it, but rather that Roberta’s shares the common yet mistaken understanding that if labor is provided by an employee called an “intern” and that employee will learn something new, there is no legal or ethical requirement to compensate or treat that worker as any other employee.

But the situation is not quite so simple. In 2010 the U.S. Department of Labor published Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, “to help determine whether interns must be paid the minimum wage and overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act for the services that they provide to ‘for-profit’ private sector employers.” It states, in part:

If an employer uses interns as substitutes for regular workers or to augment its existing workforce during specific time periods, these interns should be paid at least the minimum wage and overtime compensation for hours worked over forty in a workweek.  If the employer would have hired additional employees or required existing staff to work additional hours had the interns not performed the work, then the interns will be viewed as employees and entitled compensation under the FLSA.

By this measure, your advertisement would appear to be for a position that is not in compliance with the law. And yet, violation of this law is not the limit of our concern. We oppose the widespread use of free labor guised as “internships” for a number of reasons, including that it:

  • Contributes to unemployment and inequality
  • Denies opportunity to those who cannot afford to work for free
  • Reduces diversity of race and class in the workforce by relying on structural privilege
  • Erodes workplace protections, including against sexual harassment and racial discrimination
  • Devalues the dignity of work
  • Creates downward pressure on the wages of workers who have to compete with free labor
  • Promotes the accumulation of wealth by some through the uncompensated work of others
  • Produces a culture of self-denigration

The price of your food and the clientele it brings have already been catalysts for gentrification in the area. Your decision to deny fair compensation to all the labor needed to run your business exacerbates this problem, excluding low-income residents from the opportunity to participate in the local workforce, further pushing them out of their own community. As a presumptive valuable force in the neighborhood, Roberta’s can transform this unwelcome turn in the spotlight to its advantage by reversing its position on this practice and by publicly taking a stand to respect the residents of its community, as well as the labor and hard work that helps it thrive. We look forward to seeing your support for the return to a more sustainable and healthier labor market.

Another world is possible,

Intern Labor Rights

Irony = A Staffing Co. Staffing Itself with Unpaid Labor

The irony runs thick when a company for job hunters and employers staffs itself with unpaid labor, apparently believing that offering college credit means they don’t have to pay wages, even though the company is “experiencing exponential growth” and this is clearly meant to meet their own labor needs:

As one of the hottest startups in the tri-state area, you’ll join an exciting team in a fun and highly productive environment that’s currently experiencing exponential growth! The Social Media Coordinator Intern will report directly to the Social Media Manager, and will also have the opportunity to work with the Marketing and Branded Content managers. You’ll be helping handle Purzue’s social media efforts from the top down, tracking campaign results and engaging with users on a daily basis. This is NOT a coffee making position! We encourage our interns to be as active as possible in the company. You’ll be participating in weekly meeting and helping to determine the voice of the brand, while learning the essentials of managing a corporate social media account. We’re a fun (and quirky) group of entrepreneurial go-getters so be prepared to work and play hard during your time here!

Do employers honestly not see something peculiar about hiring people and getting away with not paying them simply by slapping “intern” on the job description? Do they think that labor laws give them some kind of “freebie” for using a magic word?

Can I pay my rent with free jewelry?

If you draw a bunch of hearts around an offer to break minimum wage laws, it feels like love, doesn’t? We’ve answered the ad. Let’s see if they respond.


Gothamist: Fail

Ugh. Have the hipsters playing at running a business at the Gothamist not heard? They want to be a substantial media company, but apparently haven’t considered that Step #1 of an honorable and successful business plan would be respecting and paying for the labor needed to make that happen:

2012 is almost over, and isn’t it about time you started thinking about Your Future? We’re looking for more enthusiastic interns to work out of our Brooklyn office through the winter and maybe even beyond. Responsibilities vary widely, hours are flexible, but we do want someone who can be available 2 days out of the week. Bloggers, journalism students, photographers, English majors, and anyone with a passion for NYC and the skills to write about it are encouraged to drop us a line.

No pay, but some perks and college credit available. For more details inquire within, and please email your resume, availability during the week and any other relevant information to, subject “internship.” (No attachments, please.) And if you have a link to any of your writing online, please share. (It’s okay if it’s “just a Tumblr.”)

They have been notified of their failure to do the honorable (and legally required) thing. Stay tuned to hear if they respond…

“Time requirement: 5 Days a week”

We can’t state this enough, the law stipulates that unpaid interns should not perform the responsibilities of regular employees! A for-profit entity cannot, therefore, demand they work five days a week and ask of the intern to perform tasks such as “copying job folders, sending out invoices, filing, organizing and filling out paperwork, coding cell phone and other bills, maintaining office supplies, running errands.” How is this educational? How is this specific to learning about photo production? Sounds like a junior office manager position to us. Seliger Studio, if you cannot afford to hire someone to do this (even for minimum wage!), you probably should cut back on your operations. Asking that people do this work for free is illegal and immoral.

Archive Intern
Seliger Studio
(New York NY)
Internships available at a photography studio!
We are looking for creatively driven individuals to help at a studio of one of the most respected celebrity portrait photographers.

Currently available are internship opportunities alongside the Archivist and Studio Manager.
Being such coveted positions, we only offer one internship with each department.  We are looking for driven individuals who are willing and able to handle the pressure of working at one of the top studios in the industry.

For the archive internship:
We are looking for someone who is motivated and dedicated to assisting our archivist and post production manager.  You must be extremely organized and meticulous.  Day to day tasks will include managing the magazine collection, organizing the print storage room, keeping an inventory of prints and magazines, running errands and ordering supplies.  Must have a passion for images and be interested in learning about archival methods.

There is also an internship opportunity working alongside our studio manager. The position will allow for the candidates to learn more about the business aspect of a large and successful studio. You will assist the studio manager in many administrative ways such as copying job folders, sending out invoices, filing, organizing and filling out paperwork, coding cell phone and other bills, maintaining office supplies, running errands as well as having the opportunity to be a part of the production and organization of in-studio shoots and be on set.  Time requirement: 5 Days a week, Start date : ASAP

The positions are unpaid, but we do compensate for half of your monthly Metrocard.  We are looking for driven individuals who are willing and able to handle the pressure and fast pace of working at one of the top studios in the industry.

This exhaustive list of “experiential learning” speaks for itself…

“NYTW interns receive a monthly unlimited MetroCard, plus academic credit if applicable. Interns are required to work a minimum of three full days per week, 10am-6pm, with occasional extra hours for assisting with productions and events.
NYTW is committed to providing interns with structured and substantive experiential learning.”

Internships typically last three to nine months, during which interns are assigned to a specific department and staff supervisor. Our internships are geared toward college students and post-graduates interested in learning from theatre professionals, contributing to a vibrant downtown community of artists, and connecting with other like-minded young professionals.

NYTW interns receive a monthly unlimited MetroCard, plus academic credit if applicable. Interns are required to work a minimum of three full days per week, 10am-6pm, with occasional extra hours for assisting with productions and events.

NYTW is committed to providing interns with structured and substantive experiential learning. Interns meet regularly with their departmental supervisors and are occasionally asked to fulfill duties or projects for other departments. This gives interns a taste of multiple aspects of NYTW and its operations, and we encourage interns with varied interests to explore them.

The entire company of NYTW interns gathers every month for a lunchtime or evening mentoring event with an invited guest from the NYTW staff or theatre community to discuss their work and share ideas. Interns have met with artists such as Elizabeth Marvel, Alex Timbers, Leigh Silverman, Michael Greif, Betty Shamieh, Jessica Blank, Donyale Werle, Rinde Eckert, Young Jean Lee, and many others.INTERNSHIP DESCRIPTIONS

Artistic Internships

Artistic and Casting Interns are required to work on Mondays in the Fall/Spring, due to our Mondays @ 3 reading series.

All Artistic, Casting, Literary and Education Interns are strongly encouraged to attend Artistic staff meetings on Friday mornings.

Artistic Interns work closely with the Artistic staff, providing support for all Artistic, Workshop and Education programming. Responsibilities include helping to facilitate our Mondays @ 3 reading series in the Fall and Spring; helping to coordinate and attend meetings and events for our extended community of artists, the Usual Suspects; helping to run casting sessions; helping prepare dramaturgical support materials for our season productions; and to provide general administrative support to the Artistic and Education departments. Summer Artistic interns assist in the coordination of NYTW’s annual summer residency at Dartmouth College, which includes company management activities such as arranging travel and lodging for artists. A strong work ethic and attention to detail, as well as enthusiasm for our various programs, is highly encouraged. Interns participate in Friday morning Artistic staff meetings. Artistic internship terms run September through May and May through August; extensions and flexibility are possible.

Casting Interns work directly with our Casting Director to help coordinate and run auditions and maintain our casting databases. The casting intern communicates directly with agents, managers, and actors to arrange general auditions, EPAs, summer residency casting and auditions for workshops and season productions. The casting intern assists with making appointments, preparing audition materials and facilitating auditions. Strong communication and organization skills are required. Interns participate in Friday morning Artistic staff meetings along with the other artistic interns and staff members. Previous casting experience is helpful and preferred, though not required. Casting internship terms run September through May and May through August; extensions and flexibility are possible.

Literary Interns, under the supervision of the Literary Associate, read scripts, write reader reports, and, on occasion, correspond with writers regarding individual works. Interns contribute input to the selection of plays for the Mondays @ 3 reading series, and prepare for Larson Lab projects by maintaining communication with Usual Suspects and other artists, and providing support as needed. Literary interns also help prepare dramaturgical support materials for our season productions and participate in Friday morning Artistic staff meetings. Candidates who have or are currently pursuing an advanced degree in dramaturgy, playwriting or a related field are preferred for this internship. The literary internship is available September through May.


Education Interns work closely with the Director of Education, helping to facilitate and document Learning Workshop programs, such as in-school residencies, mentoring workshops, student matinees, Mind the Gap Intergenerational Theatre Workshop, and Public Programs such as AfterWords and panel discussions. Education interns also coordinate the application and interview process for incoming interns and fellows, and provide dramaturgical and historical research for student and teacher guides for NYTW productions. Interns participate in Friday morning Artistic staff meetings and provide general administrative support to the Education department. Education Interns interested in teaching often have the opportunity to observe, lead, and assist in workshops taught at our partner schools, as well as participate in the lesson planning process with teaching artists. Applicants should have a strong attention to detail, ability to handle multiple projects at once, and a passion for working with young people in the arts. Education internship terms run September through May and May through August; extensions and flexibility are possible.

Management Internships

Marketing/Special Events
Marketing/Special Events Interns at NYTW are key members of the Marketing team of a cutting-edge off-Broadway theatre. Interns get hands-on experience with all aspects of the Marketing & Communications department, assisting with press relations, opening nights, research, VIP ticket requests, advertising, and social media. Interns help communicate with NYTW members and the public about productions, special offers and programs through mailings and email blasts. They also gain experience with grassroots marketing techniques, including Facebook, Twitter, and web-based video. Marketing interns help plan and execute special events and parties with NYTW’s young patrons group, the 4th Street Bar Association, and maintain NYTW’s press archive of articles, features and reviews. Applicants should have an interest in NYTW’s work and an enthusiasm for marketing and outreach. Experience with social media and technology a plus.

Fund Development
Fund Development Interns at NYTW have the unique opportunity to learn the ins and outs of fundraising for one of the country’s leading nonprofit theatres by assisting the Development Department with individual, foundation, corporate and government fundraising initiatives. Working within a busy department at the heart of the organization, Development interns interact with every NYTW department and gain significant insight on some of the most important aspects of nonprofit management. Responsibilities include assisting with the coordination of special events such as opening night parties, benefits and receptions for NYTW’s young patrons group the 4th Street Bar Association; understanding donor research; processing gift acknowledgements; updating our fundraising database Raiser’s Edge (used by many nonprofit development offices); learning grant writing and helping with other general administrative support. Applicants should have a strong attention to detail, knowledge of Excel, and an interest in fundraising. Completion of coursework in fundraising or development and experience with Raiser’s Edge a plus. Development internship terms run for three to nine months depending on start date; extensions and flexibility are possible.

eneral Management Intern
General Management Interns work directly with the Managing Director and General Manager to gain hands-on experience with all aspects of management of one of the country’s leading non-profit theatres. General Management interns will gain relevant experience and immediately applicable skills for a career in producing or arts management, including budgeting, contract administration, human resources, and Box Office and Front of House management. Interns will also learn the ins and outs of communication with all major theatrical unions, and attend meetings with leaders in the field. Interns will assist with company management for each NYTW production, interacting with the cast and creative team to help arrange travel, housing and other needs. Applicants should have strong attention to detail and a desire to learn about theatreical management.

Production Internships

Production Internship terms run for three to six months, depending on start date and production needs; extensions and flexibility are possible.

Production Management
Production Management Interns work closely with the Production Manager, assisting in the daily operations of the extremely active production team at NYTW. The Production Management intern works in an intimate environment with ample opportunities for hands-on learning and contact with top designers, stage managers, and crew members, including access to all production meetings and tech rehearsals. Production Management interns conduct research into all aspects of production, keep track of production and facilities budgets, prepare payroll forms, coordinate trips to the theatre’s prop and scenic storage units, and take on responsibilities of communication and coordination with the numerous daily rentals in our Fourth Street Theatre. Applicants should be extremely well-organized and interested in learning the day-to-day coordination of all scenic, lighting, costume, and sound needs for NYTW productions. Knowledge of Microsoft Office programs is a plus, and a positive attitude and sense of humor are also strongly encouraged. Production Management internships are geared towards those who are interested in developing management and administration skills.

Technical Direction
Technical Direction Interns assist the Technical Director with carpentry, coordination of builds and strikes, and maintenance of spaces, equipment, and materials. The Technical Direction intern has the unique opportunity to work at the heart of an intimate production team, with ample possibilities for hands-on learning and projects. The Technical Direction intern also has contact and networking opportunities with top designers and theatre professionals. Interns should have schedule flexibility due to the variable production schedule. Strong applicants are self-motivated, have a sense of humor, and a desire to pursue a career in technical direction. Carpentry experience, the ability to lift 50 lbs., and a valid driver’s license are required. Knowledge of VectorWorks is a plus. Technical Direction internships are appropriate for those considering a career in technical direction and are focused specifically on assisting with construction of scenic elements and developing carpentry and technical skills.

Costume Shop
Costume Shop Interns assist the Shop Manager with coordination of builds and strikes, and maintenance of costumes, shop space, equipment, and materials. Costume Shop interns create and maintain NYTW’s database of costume rentals, completing research, and cataloguing costume pieces by fabric type, color, style and period. Costume Shop interns have the unique opportunity to work at the heart of an intimate production team, in a brand-new facility with ample possibilities for hands-on learning and projects. Costume Shop interns also have contact and networking opportunities with a wide range of theater professionals, including top costume designers. Candidates should have computer knowledge, research skills, strong attention to detail, and an interest in learning about costume styles and periods. Basic sewing a plus, but not required. Interns should have schedule flexibility due to variable production needs. Strong applicants are self-motivated, have a sense of humor, and a desire to pursue a career in costume design and/or wardrobe management.