Finding a Job

Condé Nast Ends Internship Program

The system of apprenticeship was first developed in the late Middle Ages as a system of training a new generation of practitioners of a structured competency a basic set of skills. Apprenticeships remain popular in industrial nations such as Germany and ranged from craft occupations or trades to those seeking a professional license to practice in a regulated profession.

An increasing number of teenagers these days are opting out of going to university through fear of being saddled with debts they may never pay back in their lifetime and look for alternative ways to acquire the skills they need on the job.

For many college students or those trying to get into a new career, internships have been a way to help build out real on the job skills that improve one’s chances of getting a job after graduation, or a way of getting a foot in the door to get noticed and possibly secure a permanent position. While each company is different in their policies towards paying and covering living expenses for interns, in recent years there has been increasing pressure to regulate and standardize minimum pay for interns since it is often felt that companies abuse individuals and view this as a cheap source of labor.

At the same time organizations argue that managing and coaching interns is time consuming and is enough of an overhead for the company without having to pay minimum wages. Each industry has its own war stories and journalism is no exception about four months ago two formers interns sued Condé Nast, claiming they had been paid below minimum wage for the summer jobs at W Magazine and The New Yorker. The case, still pending, is one of several recent lawsuits filed by low-paid and unpaid interns in the media field. Hearst Magazines was sued by a former Harper’s Bazaar intern last year, and this past spring a Federal District Court judge in Manhattan ruled that Fox Searchlight Pictures broke laws for not paying two interns who worked on “Black Swan.”

This week Condé Nast announced that it was closing down its internship program. A spokeswoman for the company, whose publications include The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Vogue, confirmed that the program would end, but said current interns would not be affected. Several former and current Condé Nast interns said sacrificing the internship program seemed too extreme a response, not least because it meant that hundreds of fledgling and prospective journalists would be denied an invaluable launching pad.

Also lost would be the lessons learned from working at the magazines, and brushing elbows with the magazine world’s most recognizable names. Doing research for writers like George Packer, Jane Kramer and Philip Gourevitch. Spotting Graydon Carter or Anna Wintour in the cafeteria

Over the years Condé Nast internships drew plenty of the rich and famous, including a daughter of Leslie Moonves, president and chief executive of CBS, and a daughter of Arianna Huffington. Not to mention those reality TV darlings Lauren Conrad and Whitney Port, who were interns at Teen Vogue.

For those of more modest means, living as an intern was a bit rougher without her parents financial help many could not have done the internship, which lasted four months and could range from unpaid to a measly $600 a month. While students can earn school credit for their internship, not all former Condé Nast interns fully agreed with the premise of the lawsuit. Stephanie Cain, an editor at an e-commerce start-up who interned in 2008 at Brides magazine, another Condé Nast publication, said she had never expected to get paid for journalism internships. Besides, she viewed the Brides internship, which continues to open doors, as akin to auditing a class, “And you don’t expect to be paid for auditing a class,” she said.

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