|Washington's most famous intern.|
Most people would agree that Washington, D.C. is awash in corporate money, but a little known fact about inside the beltway is that the town runs off of the unpaid labour of interns. As this is the time of year when a lot of internship positions start being recruited for I was happy to see that the Obama administration might be starting to take the plight of interns seriously.
Recently, the Federal Internship Improvement Act was introduced into Congress; the bill contains a number of a measures, including consistent monitoring mechanisms, adoption of best practices in relation to managing interns and expanding the number of interns that get transferred into full-time positions. This is a positive development as it's a concrete policy response to a type of employment that's has been growing in prominence over the past thirty years in the U.K, the U.S. and Canada.
The issue of internships has been getting a lot of attention as of late with the class action lawsuit against Fox Searchlight Pictures and the publication of Ross Perlin's Intern Nation (which contains a fabulous chapter about the unpaid internship scam in D.C.). What we haven't seen though is any sort of policy or enforcement response from Canadian jurisdictions to misclassification of employees as interns and rampant violations of employment standards. Perhaps this move by the Obama administration will spur some action in Canada, but I won't hold my breath. For more of my articles on internships in Canada, take a look: here, here, here and here; also, NPR has a great article and radio documentary up about unpaid internships, check in out here.