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REPLAY | Are unpaid internships worth your time?

Categories: Canada, Community, World

Should all interns be paid for their work, or can the experience itself be sufficient compensation? (iStock)

Friday marks the official start of summer, but the season isn't all sand and sunshine.

For many young Canadians, particularly students and new graduates, this is high season for making professional connections, adding lines to a resume, and whittling away inexperience.

But along with the weather, a familiar debate is heating up -- especially in light of a recent ruling by a New York judge that called the legality of unpaid internships into question.

This week on CBC Live Online, host Lauren O'Neil explored the arguments for and against unpaid internships with a panel of special guests.

  • Eric Glatt, who worked as an unpaid intern on the Oscar-nominated film Black Swan, and was a plaintiff court case against Fox Searchlight Pictures. The court ruled in favour of Glatt, affirming that Fox violated federal minimum wage laws by not paying interns.
  • Stephanie Wiriahardja: a recent graduate from Simon Fraser University. Her unpaid internship with HootSuite led to her full time position there as Community Manager, Higher Education. She's grateful for what she's learned, and sees internships as "free education."
  • Andrew Langille: a Toronto based lawyer and a frequent commenter on emerging issues in the youth labour market. He runs a website called Youth And Work and is critical of unpaid internships.
  • Jesse Klein: a National Post columnist who has done his share of unpaid internships. His recent column Let Interns Work For Free makes the case for gaining experience -- even if you're not gaining income. 

So, are unpaid internships categorically wrong? Or does it make sense to work for free if it means getting a proverbial foot in the door?

Should these internships be seen as learning opportunities that don't require extra tuition? Or do they freeze out deserving candidates who simply can't afford work without pay?

Replay the chat below and tell us your own internship story.


Tags: CBC Live Online, community

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