Unpaid Internship
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  1. #1
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    Unpaid Internship

    Hey, I was hoping I could get a few opinions on this one... I've been offered a two month internship at a film production - it's a 3D animated film. My job would be to design props (in 2D) which then gets outsourced to a modeller. I'm 22, unschooled and still rather untrained, so obviously I cannot expect/demand too much.

    So far, that sounds pretty cool, right. But it's also unpaid and full time and I was told at the interview that I would be busy. There would be a great deal of work. They did offer to cover transportation and lunch. Also, since it's a bit low budget (that goes for pretty much all productions around here, though), I'd be creating the props alone.

    I dunno... They told me I would get some experience and I'd get to see how such a production works - make some connections, too. I guess that's true, but I can't help but feel like I would be taken advantage of. That's quite a bit of free labour, even if it's only two months.

    I guess I want to know if this is regular practice? I hadn't heard of unpaid internships before and it was actually not before the interview that I realized it wasn't paid. Whoopsy daisy. Could I try to ask for payment?

    Thank you for any input you might have! I'm really very clueless about the whole business, so any help is appreciated.

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  3. #2
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    These are my own thoughts regarding unpaid internships, so obviously the opinions are just mine and nobody elses...

    But honestly? I think they're a complete scam. More often than not, unpaid internships are used as a way to skirt around paying people for a proper job. And this isn't just in the art field - a whole mess of folk do this practice.

    And often the the unpaid internships don't qualify to be unpaid. There's a list of criteria for what makes an internship unpaid, and a lot of times companies skirt the issue. It should be noted that this is illegal. It's not a grey area, it's clearly companies ignoring the rules set forth for it.

    From what it sounds like, that position you were offered directly violates two of the criteria for an unpaid internship:

    "The trainee's work not replace workers who are regularly paid

    The employer receives no immediate advantage from the trainees' activities, and the employer's operations may actually be impeded on occasion"

    Considering that you would be designing props for a film, it can be considered that you're displacing work from somebody who would normally be paid. I'm a little fuzzy on this, so if someone could clarify it better, that would be awesome.

    You also mentioned that you're unschooled. Does that mean you're currently not attending school? My memory is fuzzy on it (and unfortunately the links I'm referencing don't mention it, so take this with a grain of salt,) but unpaid internships should only be used for students. The whole point of an unpaid internship is that you're exchanging pay for school credit (in addition to getting some job experience.)

    Now, not all unpaid internships are bad, but this one, from the information you gave, sounds like they're trying to find a way to not pay for a position on the film. Which at the very least sounds fishy and at the worst is certainly illegal.

    Again, these are just my feelings on it, but if I were in your shoes, I'd say "Thanks, but no thanks."

    Here are some links to check out:

    http://www.cartoonbrew.com/student/most-unpaid-internships-are-illegal.html


    http://www.californiaemploymentlawye...ternships.html

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