From the beginning of time, a certain contentious relationship was forged between employer and employee. The employee would half-ass his/her job, and the employer would pay said employee a laughable salary to do so. Recently though we have seen a worrisome trend: Unpaid employees. With 14 million unemployed people just in the U.S., it is becoming more and more popular to start below the ground floor on the corporate ladder in hopes that one day they will be given the chance to climb up. And employers rejoiced asking: “So you mean all I have to pay this qualified and willing individual is hope! But that’s free…why? Well, whatever the case FREE LABOUR!!! YEAAA!” So, companies have their free labor which is bought with a simple glimmer of hope that an unpaid position might turn into a paying one. These are some companies that have staff work for free and it’s not just internship horror stories either.
The Start Up Gambit
We’ve all seen the social network and regretted it. But it did bring up an interesting strategy start-up companies use to recruit potential employees…stock options. Basically, instead of paying people, they are paid in the potential of the company. It was such a laughably common strategy that even the Simpsons made fun of it, and it’s hilarious…go ahead click on the link I’ll wait [nonchalantly whistling].
Notice the title said gambit because sometimes gambles pay off. Such was the case of a young artist named David Choe, who was commissioned to paint a mural in the offices of a small tech startup. Choe was given the option of being paid 60.000 dollars or stock option in a company, a company that Choe called “Ridiculous”. The ridiculous company? Facebook.
Like I mentioned in the introduction many people that apply for unpaid internships do so hoping it will get their foot in the door of the industry they would like to work in. In the United States in 2014 97% of major employers employed unpaid interns and the estimated number of interns being employed in the States is between a whopping 1 to 2 million. The biggest employers of interns in the U.S. are: PricewaterhouseCoopers, General Electric, Ernst & Young and KPMG. That doesn’t mean they’re the only ones though, this Forbes.com list also includes megalithic defense contractor Lockheed Martin, its competitor in the aerospace and defense section Northrop Grumman and retail giant Target.
Shame! (ding-a-ling) Shame! (ding-a-ling)
For all the non-believers the title was a reference to Game of Thrones, where a shamefully behaving Queen is stripped of her clothes and paraded through the streets while people yelled shame! and a nun followed her ringing a bell. I don’t know why, but my beliefs are pure, and I never question the AUTHOR. Well, that would be a mild punishment for Urban Outfitters, which in preparation for the holiday season asked employees to pitch in and work a little bit more on the weekends.
Working extra on the weekend sucks bad enough but working and not getting paid under the premise of a “team building” exercise is vile. I just have to wonder how the employees felt, it’s kind of sounds like a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” type situation. Well, at least, they offer transportation and lunch as part of their “team building” exercise, which involves packing and preparing packages for retail and wholesale customers…how is this sh*t even legal?!!
Do you know of any other companies that ride on the backs of desperate people…um I mean offer unpaid internships. Let me know in the comment section below.