It really depends on the type of work. If I was a film student and James Cameron offered me an unpaid internship, id accept it without even thinking. Working for Cameron is absolute hell, but you'll get plenty of paid job offers if you can endure 6 months working for him.
Grad students in my department earn $13/hr if we work 40 hour weeks (the reality is more like 50). Somehow we're overtime exempt, as well. It'd be pretty awesome if Sawant took on student salaries.
School of social work. Now there's a winning college degree.
Wow she is a idiot. Next she will push parents to pay their kids $15 dollar allowances for making their bed or putting away their toys. Children shouldnt be forced to "work" for free. Students who think this thru realize its a terrible idea.
@4 obviously thinks that kids go to college - only off my a decade, moron

Whew. That was close. Man, someone should put up a sign on how slippery the slope is on 4.
That's awesome! The graduation I attended this week at UW just had faculty and staff speakers all going on about how important the major is and how all the students are better off than when they first started college. Very weak sauce.

I never took a service learning class, but many undergraduate courses, including English composition, have a required volunteer component. I wonder how these compare.
@4, what? Is helping the mentally ill a household chore where you live ? I'm pretty sure being someone's case worker is a job, and not at all like doing the dishes. Good rule of thumb, if you wouldn't ask your roommate to do it, its definitely a job.

The big take away for me is that the students are poor people, who also need social justice.
As a social worker who went through the practicum process in another state, I agree with the students here, but also see this as a tricky situation.

On one hand, agencies are making money off of interns work by billing medicaid (for instance) for M.H. services that are provided by students who are not compensated for their labor. I am sure it helps their bottom line to get a slew of interns each year and send them new clients. In my first year internship, I personally had a caseload of 15 clients by my third month. Assuming I had 10 client visits per week (factoring in no-shows), that probably brought the agency something like $600 in Medicaid billing. Thus, I was definitely replacing a paid employee (or maybe 0.25 FTE of a paid employee given the low caseload) and this work would have been in conflict with WA law. I had a supervisor I met with 1x/week and who sort of reviewed my clients' case records.

On the other hand, internships ARE (or should be) primarily educational experiences. These are students who are not technically qualified to provide the services, and receive oversight and supervision. They are really learning on the job - while at the same time, taking classes that supposedly contribute to their capacity to do a good job. I was providing therapy to people in my first year, during my first semester of classes! And my learning experience at the internship was as important to my learning as the classes. Students don't expect to be paid for doing their coursework, so maybe they should not be paid for doing their practicum work...

In the end, I agree with the students that pay should be given since the work often amounts to what a staff member would do (although it also requires more supervision and training resources). At the very least, students should not be required to pay for practicum credits, which basically amounts to free money to the university. I think this topic also shines some light on an even more questionable practice, which is to have master's students providing mental health services at agencies (albeit under supervision that ranges from excellent to terrible).
One neighborhood baby sitter we've used just announced that she turned 18 that she 'deserves' $15 an hour now (Center School Grad). When I pointed out that that's what I pay UW child psychology majors to watch my kid, she looked confused.
"@Ansel Seattle City Council's @cmkshama at UW: Unpaid internships are an "invisible abomination." Preach!"

Nice to see that after 2 decades of using unpaid interns the Stranger now claims moral high ground on this issue! Preach, indeed!
Does The Stranger still have "unpaid interns"?
I always thought it was creepy.
Glad to hear Sawant speaking out.
Just to clarify my final point, the practice that I find questionable is using interns at agencies that generally serve lower-income, disenfranchised, or dis-empowered populations - i.e., those less able to advocate for their care by requesting someone with greater experience, training, or qualifications.
A practicum is a credit-earning experience for a matriculated graduate program. You are not working for free; you're completing a required portion of the curriculum and earning a degree. I completed a practicum for my MSW; it was required for graduation. And as much as I deplore unpaid internships in general, the sites/agencies at which social work students complete their practicum requirements are, probably for the most part, struggling financially to meet their mission to their clients. Sawant is shooting at the wrong target. Sheesh.
Oh please. So is it to say we need another government agency to interject their opinion into the lives of people whom are learning new skills? As if this new government agency will have any better clue on what constitutes *paid* work, and *skill-building* work, than that of the intern.

Sawant is nuts.
I would add to @14 that you are generally charged tuition to enroll in a practicum.
"posted by Jonah Spangenthal-Lee on July 18 at 17:13 PM

Do you enjoy trolling through mind-numbing court filings? Do you like taking long walks down to city hall to pick up always-exciting legislative action agendas? Do you wish you spent more time interviewing crazy people about everything from the fascinating world of mass transit to gay robot conspiracies?

Then have we got a job for you!

The Stranger’s news department is looking for a few good interns.

If you have any aspirations to be a journalist, can string together a sentence, and don’t mind acting as a drug mule every once in awhile, then send a resume and clips (if you have them) to

Stranger internships: You can’t say you hate it if you haven’t tried it."

And the pay? $0.00/hour!

@3: Social workers commonly toil in the following areas: medical/public health (advocates for patient rights and a source of comfort), substance abuse, mental health, child welfare, schools (behavioral intervention, truancy prevention, crisis intervention), corrections.

Among others. Hardly underwater-basket-weaving frivolity. Or do you think that might impede your fundie rights to abuse children, spouse, employees, elders, etc. with impunity?

Gun-rights advocates love to point at any hint of mental illness in gun-involved violence as a means of distraction. Yes, mental-health care is severely diminished and de-funded in this country, but social workers are one of the few bulwarks still in place. If you're at all honest in your deflection attempts, you'll always include a strong statement of support for the social workers on the front lines.
It's one thing for unpaid internships to proliferate in industries that are highly competitive and, if you don't have family connections, you can't get a paying job without "paying your dues" as an intern. But requiring soon-to-be underpaid, highly educated people to work for free to prop up an underfunded system? Sounds legit.


Children get room and board, fuckface.
Hey Ansel you must really appreciate irony.

You realize The Stranger was using unpaid internships for over twenty years - until just maybe over a year ago (In fact the Stranger is still a little cagey if they have any unpaid positions there or not - it'd be great if you'd clarify that).

When people used to call them on it, the paid staff would hop on SLOG and recount to you the silly rationalizations and how awesome unpaid internships were and how you were just bitching about a fact of life. Those staff are still there.

Anyway. I'm curious of you opinion, Ansel. Was it okay for The Stranger to build a business on exploiting unpaid labor for twenty years? Just not anybody else.

From the masthead:
"Apprentice: Kyle Fleck (Music)"

Paid or unpaid?
I wondered who would bring up the tired topic of The Stranger and their old unpaid internships. Should have figured it would be tkc, the guy who doesn't let anything go.
@15 We are not talking about how things used to be - like trade apprenticeships (which traditionally were for room and board). Those days are gone.

We are talking about wide scale abuse of labor where unpaid internship are replacing professional entry level positions.

With the cost of living like it is, unpaid internships in major markets virtually guarantee class immobility since only rich kids can afford them.

We have entire professional career classes that are mostly upper-middle/upper class with people that all come from the same schools, regions etc. It's not good for anybody.

I wondered who be an apologist and boot licker. Should have figured it would be Matt from Denver, the rank hypocrite.
The Washington State legislature posted an appalling ad at Seattle U for an unpaid internship recently. Those Boeing-sucking fuckwits have abdicated all responsibility for our economic well-being, so why not just bring back slavery?
"Apologist" "bootlicker" "hypocrite" hahahahahaha

Like Dan's stupid editorial, The Stranger's stupid unpaid internships are a thing of the past. Just because I can forgive them when they change their ways rather than hold onto my outrage (for what reason? Do you only feel alive when you're raging?) doesn't retroactively make me a sycophant. It's telling that you have to be dishonest about that.
@25: Can you send me the ad?
@26 A little over a year ago is indeed the past. The recent past.

I think's it worth reminding this community I live and work in that this paper had over twenty years of free intern labor.

I mean, seriously, how much money is that? One to four interns a quarter for over twenty years? A couple hundred thousand dollars of scammed labor?

Anyway. Maybe you need to go practice what you preach and let what I think go.

Because I got to tell you something. I forget you exist the second I hit the post button. You don't matter to me at all.
The Stranger has stated unambiguously that they no longer have unpaid internships, having replaced the program with paid apprenticeships. Matt is right that this is a tired topic, one whose appearance is no less predictable than your inclination now to shift the conversation to whether they get a $15 per hour wage.
@ 28, your response puts lie to your final declaration.
Thread officially hijacked
@kinson That's true, but what Sawant is getting at is these folks are basically getting free labor while most interns do very comparable work of the professionals. I know because it happened to me too: I was working as an unpaid intern while going to school during the recent recession while I was getting unemployment. Techinically, the non-profit organization I was working for could get away with it since it was considered volunteer work and while my supervisor was trying to set me up as a permanent worker there, it was rebuffed by the management.
I interned for free. It's how you learn how to work. It builds character, something leftists don't value.
As someone who's done both nursing and counselling practicums (as a student), and has supervised SW, nursing, medical & counselling students, I think there's a significant difference between practicums and internships. Practicums are one class out of many in a school semester. They're when the student is legally unhireable for the job they want to have. Internships are after the student has graduated, where they should be qualified for the job they're doing, but somehow aren't being paid.

Would you be happy if new graduates from nursing/medicine/social work graduated having never seen a client? Would they be competent practitioners after N years of study but no direct client contact? Trust me, I'd say it's month 6 of 8 before I start to feel like a student provides as much relief to my workload as they add burden to my workload.
@tkc, of course anslel hates unpaid intersips, he had to put up with one at the stranger, where during his whole time as an unpaid intern he said nothing about how horrible companies who uses unpaid interns are...
I was a student at the School of Social Work at UW and by my own experiences, I learned a lot more in my Practicum than I did at the school. I know some of my fellow students felt the same way when their supervisor/mentor took the time to teach challenge me to grow and learn. However, some placements were terrible. They were just a fill in employee basically for social services that couldn't afford to hire another employee and they received no mentoring whatsoever. It is difficult to approach your supervisor to tell them that you want them to invest more of their time and energy into you when they are already stretched thin. You don't want to burn that bridge because you want to use them as a reference for a job once you've graduated. That job reference is critical.

There were a couple of paid placements but obviously they were very competitive placements .
Speaking of labour, what happened to Danielle? She's not on your masthead anymore...
underpaid or unpaid labor is the question and the answer is Kshama Sawant. I thank her and the people willing to stand up to the brainwashed cowards actively defending a broken system of greed and self worship. major change is on the way. new leaders and thinkers are surfacing. thanks to "The Stranger" and alternate news sources on the internet the truth is becoming apparent. Women are leading the way. Thank G-d change is coming.…
trolls from kiro television and radio and Dori Monson wannabes all over "The Stranger" and Seattle Councilwoman Kshama Sawant. Pox on you troll army! May you burn with your leader the "Dori Monson"!!!
The issue at UW's school of Social Work is that "practicum" is not one class out of many. It is three 8 hour days a week and many of the students have a full caseload and are doing the work of an employee while paying tuition for the practicum credits. Some of practicums are not legally practicums but are still called practicums by the school.
Important heads up on a major liability issue for smaller 501(c)s & small businesses. While non-profits can get some wiggle room, any Sole Proprietership or Partnership withouth LLC or incorporated status should familiarize themselves with IRS rules (in addition to DOL), to ensure they aren't open to charges of misclassification of employees as "interns", which IRS will not drop regardless of whether misclassified interns follow up with labor board proceedings or not. The fines, settlements, and legal fees can really blindside a small business owner for up to 6 YEARS under federal law, so follow the rules to the letter!
@40: Final year nursing, counselling and social work placements in Ontario are usually 24 hr/wk as well. That said, they're accompanied by hours of classes as well as on-site supervision. As a counsellor, I'm paying $200/hr for off site supervision once per month. As a student, I got 3 hrs of better quality (on-site, often taped or watched through 1-way glass) supervision each week for free.

We sent my SW student this year to every course that was available and possibly relevant. She also got 2 hrs of supervision/wk and a chance to meet with everyone from our fundraising department, to our CEO and a member of our board.
@42 Most SW placements in the US are not like that. Many agencies don't have classes for students; often they only get 1 hour ofsupervision week. Supervision can very greatly in quality. Given that, your situation might not be applicable to UW students. Also it is not free since students pay for credits to do the practicum.
And no one mentions all those people helping 15Now get a temporary victory on the minimum wage (which will be overturned in court or a state-wide initiative) were also UNPAID. And spare me any talk of "volunteers". If an agency like 15Now can't pay its workers a living wage, then that agency doesn't deserve to be in business.
@ 44, whether that's parody or serious, it's f'n stupid.
I am a SW graduate student currently enrolled at UW and currently interning. While I do not expect to receive monetary compensation for the duties performed at my site (though certainly welcomed), I DO have a problem with PAYING the university for this placement. Interning at the organization is invaluable both to my education and to the clients I serve but having to pay the university thousands of dollars for (what?) to receive credit is ridic. I believe the time that I put in and the work that I do for the organization is enough to receive program credits. Not to mention the hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars I have to forgo at my regular job.
As for the education rationale: I am often the beneficiary of OJT at my traditional blue collar job(s) and I've never been asked to attend the occasion multi day training sessions without pay or clock out when the boss shows me something...
Why would anyone want to hire some chump who worked for free for James Cameron? This logic doesn't make any f'n sense. They are literally worthless, by their own admission. Their time is so valueless that they don't even need compensation. Maybe I'd let them work for me if they were also free...? I don't know, they might just be a liability too. Maybe Cameron paying them $0 was actually generous and they brought negative value to the project.

Please wait...

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