Seeking Chic, Brilliant Intern to Thread Needles (No Pay)
The New York TImes—Ginia Bellafante
In February, Xuedan Wang, a 2010 graduate of Ohio University, received modest attention after she filed a lawsuit against the Hearst Corporation claiming that the company violated labor laws when it did not pay her for the work she had done as an intern at Harper’s Bazaar, one of its magazines, over four months last year. Speaking to New York magazine last week, on the occasion of Fashion Week, Ms. Wang, who goes by Diana, explained that she had spent more than half of her life dreaming of Bazaar and approximately 12 months working at a pharmaceutical company in Columbus in order to save enough money to realize her Manhattan vision.
Then she found herself spending as much as 55 hours a week at a job she likened to “working in shipping and receiving.” At the end of it all, she couldn’t secure a paying job. For someone with her particular aspirations, only the HVAC industry could have contained greater indignities.
Internships are a problem, as Ross Perlin wrote in his 2011 book, “Intern Nation,” and others have effectively argued, not only because they impede efforts to reduce unemployment, but also because they assist in perpetuating inequality, privileging the already-fortunate who can afford work without pay.