The cost of internships

Want to work as an intern for Donatella Versace? Sure, it’s a great name to put on a resume, and you even get a t-shirt and bottle of perfume. Sounds like a deal right? It can be yours for $20,000. You pay her. It is for an entire semester, and you would get to go to a fashion show and a meet-and-greet with Donatella. For $20,000. Yeah, my jaw is still on the ground too.

But she’s not alone.

Anna Wintour similarly auctioned off a one-week internship at the Vogue offices. Earlier this week the bidding was at $13,000. It closed at $42,500. Blasphemy, right?! You would think that after seeing The Devil Wears Prada no one would pay for a one-week stint. That’s no where near an entire year! And probably costs more than Andy Sachs got paid. Yeah, ponder that for a moment. And let your mind explode.

On my soapbox:

After one unpaid internship summer in NY my parents are extremely reluctant to let me apply for internships in magazine mecca unless they are paid (and stipends, like the one you’d get at Conde Nast, will not cut it). Since paid internships in this biz are so hard to come by, they get significantly more applicants and become harder to attain. I have some great experience on my resume, but sometimes it’s just not enough. Plus summer is the season when internships are in the highest demand.  So why do Donatella and Anna think that their internships are worth any money at all.

And I haven’t even touched the ethical issues here!

Paying for a position completely cheapens it. It cheapens the experience you’re getting and it cheapens the internship on your resume because you didn’t earn the internship, you paid for it. Who is going to look at that on your resume and think you’re more than just a rich kid who can throw money around to get what they want?

And this brings me to ‘The City’ from the other night. My first time watching and I have mixed feelings. In this same vein, I really wonder why Olivia is still at Elle if all she does is act self-righteous and produce mediocre work for the website (yes, I’m referring to the elle.com interview with Anna Sui). Le sigh. I’m now very thankful for the Media Law and Ethics course I’m finishing up this semester because I can recognize situations like these that are more than a little fishy. Oh and while I was watching Tuesday’s episode of ‘The City’ I was flipping through my most recent Elles and could not find Olivia’s name on the masthead for either the print or online versions of the mag. Interesante indeed.

So maybe all internships cost us in the end is our dignity. Until they turn into a full-time gig. Thankfully after both of my internships, my dignity and integrity are both still very much intact and I’m grateful for the (unpaid) experiences I’ve landed. And I’ll keep you posted for where I end up this summer, it’s still somewhat up in the air.

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Filed under internships, Magazines

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