The End of Unpaid Internships

Internships are addressed with increasing frequency on Cartoon Brew. While there is value to the concept of internships, too many studios use internships as a means to free labor for their animated projects. The practice is both unethical and illegal.

Time published a piece earlier this month suggesting that the era of unpaid internships may be coming to an end. It’s a good introduction to the issues surrounding interning and a must-read for any student.

The growing backlash to unpaid internships is not limited to just the animation industry. Companies who are accused of wrongdoing in the Time article include movie studios (Fox Searchlight), TV shows (PBS’s The Charlie Rose Show), and magazines (Harper’s Bazaar). More and more workers who have been victimized are filing lawsuits against their employers, a trend that could eventually pressure the US government to more strictly enforce labor laws regarding interns.

If you work in the animation industry and feel you have been subjected to an unfair labor situation, please contact me (names and contact info will be kept confidential). I can’t follow up on every request, but Cartoon Brew will continue to bring light to labor issues as much as possible.

(Thanks to Jaime Ekkens for the link; photo of girl via Shutterstock)


  • http://www.daryl-rhystaylor.co.uk DarylT

    In the UK I’ve had this kind of thing a lot. Companies offering internships and taking advantage of the free students. It’s hard enough to get into the industry without people milking free work out of you.

  • Toonio

    Hallelujah! The government is finally catching up on the concept of inequality and realizing that the middle class is the only one that keeps the economy going ( from paying taxes to acquiring products and services).

    Oxymorons like Textor are just big parasites that bring nothing good to the human society and destroy the core of what economic development really means.

    Anybody that puts his/her time creating or doing anything for the economic benefit of others must be compensated no matter what.

    And here is a nice idea Nick Hanauer (Wikipedia is your friend) came up with for those that haven’t had the chance to watch it:

    http://goo.gl/cfRw3

  • Bobby

    I urge caution in regards to tightly regulating internships at companies and firms. On one hand, I realize that there are the bad apples who have abused interns for free labor, and those cases are why internships are frowned upon today.

    On the other hand, I feel that regulating internships may stifle the animation industry.. I do not enjoy the heavy hand of the government meddling around in private industry as I feel they often-times have the opposite effect of what they set out to do. In this case, regulating internships may be the final nail in the coffin, where internships will be a thing of the past. Companies and studios may no longer use interns, which will hurt the industry in the long-run.

    There are MANY professionals who got their start in the industry as interns. While I agree that interns should not be misused to replace salaried professionals, I think that requiring paid interns may force studios to seek labor outside the borders and prevent the next generation of animators from getting their start in the industry.

    It is a tricky situation, we must do our best for the industry.

    • http://www.cartoonbrew.com/author/amid amid

      Bobby – You say you agree interns shouldn’t be misused or replace salaried professionals, yet you argue there shouldn’t be any penalties to hold those accountable who break the law. You can’t have it both ways. There have been laws protecting interns since the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. We don’t need new laws, just enforcement of existing legislation.

      • Hank

        Exactly. This is what’s known as “corporate communism.” Gain the gain, but share the pain. You can’t have it both ways, as Amid states. This is precisely what’s wrong with the likes of the gop and tea baggers who refuse to pay for the bush tax breaks or iraq war, and who refuse to admit the fact (yes, FACT) that both federal spending and the deficit are lower today than they were at the end of the bush “administration.”. Remember, bush didn’t want those getting taxpayer bailouts to be held accountable. That part of the deal came with President Obama.

        A few bad apples can spoil everything, but now, more than ever, we have to protect students and interns. Businesses need to be praised for good practices, and held accountable for bad business.

      • http://www.cartoonbrew.com/author/amid amid

        Please continue discussing internships, but off-topic discussions of broader political issues will be removed.

    • Mac

      The industry is first and foremost made of the artists. They deserve to be protected by the law like everyone else. If the local studios wither away because they could only survive on illegal and unethical labor policy, then I for one am confident that people will continue to learn and create professional animation, in any country including the United States, into the future.

    • Rajesh

      “A few bad apples” paints a rosier picture than is accurate. It’s more like “a few good apples” because any corporate-structured business that doesn’t use free labor is not using existing legal and political conditions to its benefit, and as a result would lose shareholder value, which, as dictated by a series of legal decisions, is the primary purpose of any publicly traded company.

      Many internships refuse to even reimburse for gas, parking, or lunch because they’re not legally required to. “Is it legal or not?” is the new standard of ethics.

      Even unskilled burger flippers get paid minimum wage, during which they gain skills, experience, and a paycheck. It shouldn’t be different in other professions.

      • http://spungella.com Jean-Denis Haas

        Internships have paid gas, parking and lunch?

    • Tak

      We live in a monetary based & controlled hierarchical society where only those at the top directly suckle at the teats of the revenue sourced from the labour & time expenses of many others. [i]“Hey, I built/inherited/bought this company, why shouldn’t I?”[/i] and it’s difficult to argue with that statement, especially when they have the money. However people at any level of experience or training are entitled to wages and a percentage of the gross income that their expense of time & labour helps to generate. Receiving some form of [i]“work experience”[/i] & a better understanding of a job and the operations that you might be required to do as part of that job is NOT a get out of jail free card as far as fair monetary compensation goes. And here’s why…
      [b]The Core Concept of :[/b]
      The fair & open exchange of currency in return for services, products or time & assistance is that if any; [b]time, effort[/b] & [b]ideas[/b] of yours go into helping generate further revenue or stimulate future growth for a company or person, then you are entitled, at the very least, to a small but fair & equitably amount of that gain, because of the two simple facts that…
      [b]1.)[/b] [i]You will never get any of your time, effort, or ideas back once given to another party.[/i]
      [b]2.)[/b] [i]Those gains or that level of growth would not have occurred without your contributions.[/i]
      The difficulties in quantifying this and setting it in stone however, comes from the fact that internships often operate for a variety of different reasons, with different motives and at different times in a students early [i]“career”[/i]. Studios intern on what is mainly a trail & review basis, where graduates or current students can either be…
      [b]A.)[/b]…hosted by & spend time in the studio during a production, where they are able to talk to & watch their [i][internship mentors][/i] and other staff work. They are encouraged to ask questions, interact & closely observe. They are often also set on mock tasks in their chosen fields which are supervised and reviewed by the artists at the studio. They are also encouraged to show their own personal work and get further feedback on W.I.P’s & their short film development. It may be best to consider this type of internship happening early on as something like a “summer internship” while the student is still enrolled at and [i][preferably][/i] covered by their university/college as far as travel & other legal liabilities are concerned. Students are not part of the studio staff & [b]never[/b] work on studio bread & butter work directly [i][or indirectly][/i]. These kinds of internships are more for the 1 on 1 interaction with professional working folks at the studio; primarily for the reviews, personal critique & mentorship that they can offer the current student with their own work & development… and for them to gain insight into the working experience within their chosen department & or areas of speciality. For lack of a better description, it’s an immersive & experiential internship.
      [b]B.)[/b]…sent to the studio as something of a Jr or part time assistant to staff working on production, and under the supervision & direction of the staff. Jobs & tasks can be varied and the student or graduate needs to be adaptable & hopefully cope with the pace of the studio. Since they’re working as a Jr Assistant to staff on real projects or assisting to produce real content [i][which will hopefully act as the catalyst for their learning by being directly involved in the production & hopefully proving that they’re capable & employable to the studio.][/i] they should ideally be given a relevant intern and task related level of pay, or at the very least some basic coverage for their time & assistance. This type of internship is very similar to A.) but is more hands on & would be ideal for both graduates & summer student interns alike.
      [b]C.)[/b]…thrown in the deep end, for a period [i]at the studios discretion[/i]. It’s sink or swim & they either live up to expectations & fulfil their duties or they don’t. It’s basically a shotgun hire & review candidate on the job policy by the studio. These kinds of internships should be fully paid & treaded like a short term contract at the studio. This policy is mainly for the studios own benefit in scouting for any talent that they may wish to hire while also having some extra hands on the production. These graduates get to add the work & company to their resumes, and they get paid for their time & inputs. From the studios point of view this kind of internship is all about business & helping manufacture their products. The additional ability to review the interns & scout for possible longer term staff is simply a bi-product of this arrangement. This is a Graduate level “Professional Internship” at a company as short term staff member on equivalent staff wages.
      So in summary:
      [b]A.)[/b] The light or casual internship. Mock or intern training sample tasks only. Interracial learning & the opportunity for staff to review student work both that done in house or at college/university. Part of the University or college curriculum & associated with attaining their degree & counts as course credit.
      [b]B.)[/b] The involved assistant or perhaps part time style internship in a junior or underling/assisting type role. Much like in A.), but learning the ropes directly & actively on real tasks rather than passively on mock specifically created intern tasks. Chance to prove that they are competent & might have what it takes to preform tasks fully.
      [b]C.)[/b] The Full “professional” or “Graduate entry level” Internship. Short Contract style full employment of outstanding candidate. Thrown directly in the deep end on real work with real expectations & standards of professional polish creating real product. Hire/[i][extend contract][/i] or let got based on a series of performance reviews & the studios own current ability to take on new staff.
      The other obvious problem is Studios & their Money. Not all Studios are Pixar [i][The house $teve Job$ Built][/i]. Most are smaller, less cohesive & on tighter budgets mainly doing service type work for or in conjunction with other studios for clients/channels etc & might not have the time or finances to facilitate internships of these nature. So instead they seem to like to go by some half measure, which usually revolves around cutting whichever options minimise cost for them the most, leading us to this whole unpaid internships debacle. [i][Interning simply for the experience. For the privilege & opportunity to work with & meet studio folk, wink wink nudge nudge *cough* handshake type stuff][/i] which all stems from the real world problems & financial purse strings of the studios themselves running under a level of duress due to bad or misguided management or simply the strains of production on a tight timeline & budget.
      So please understand the core concept of pay regarding your direct involvement & your own personal responsibility to push for clarity with the terms your employer or studios is offering you.
      [i]You can tell that I’m being as pedantic as possible about the basic principles & details covered in this rant, can’t you? I just hope the core of it is clear enough by now & there’s less wool pulled over your eyes because of it.[/i]

      • Tak

        Word Not [ b ]Word>[ / b ]

        Lesson learned.

  • Laura H

    I went to school in Minnesota, and unpaid working internships are the complete norm. Everyone is required at my school to take an internship, and they are all of this kind. Unfortunately, that leads to students taking these kinds of internships in order to graduate. They really have no choice to refuse any opportunity to get experience. It wasnt until I moved to LA that I realized these were illegal practices. Since then, I have been moving to inform students back home that those opportunities are just hurting their job market, but sadly, there seems to be no other choices.

  • dbenson

    Anybody here recall Carl Reiner’s “Enter Laughing”? Reiner’s hero/stand-in is a starstruck kid who joins a threadbare professional theater company. The impresario charges him a weekly fee on the grounds he’s getting an education.

    At the end he’s informed he’ll be allowed to act for nothing. Our hero raises his eyes to the stars. Success!

    The more things change . . .

  • Anonymous

    Respect. I’ve been pushed into unpaid work experience in the UK, fortunately it was capped at 2-8 weeks.

    Some of my peers have done it and lived off mummy and daddy’s money. I could probably manage it off my savings but I don’t see why I should essentially subsidise their staff. Thanks for taking a hard line on this CB, it’s major outlets and pressure from the coal face that will stop the exploitation for good.

    As if outsourcing didn’t save them enough?

  • Mike

    There’s a simple solution to this problem: if someone works for you, PAY THEM!

  • Schultz!!!!!

    I agree about unpaid internships. Most importantly, it will protect the jobs of the already entrenched and filter out the less than stellar talent from the industry. Win win!

  • wever

    Contact YOU?

    I’m sorry, but what power does Cartoon Brew have over actions taken against companies, besides starting a lawsuit which is something artists are already doing themselves?

  • Michael Rianda

    Because of the financial realities of running a non-huge studio: I’m guessing the end of unpaid internships will also mean the end of lots of internships, period.

    This will also limit the options that students will have when they are looking for a way to get their foot in the door someplace for their first job. Given the choice, if I was a student, I would rather work for free than not work at all. Internships are the best way that I know of to get your career started.

    I personally interned a couple of places and though both were paid, I gladly would have worked either for free.

    Sometimes you gotta eat a shit sandwich and work for free before you get the reward of getting paid for your work. I think students and employees understand this. You’re not getting paid in dollars but you are getting skill, experience, building your resume and making connections. Mainly what I’m saying is: if you’re passionate, you’ll work for free and be grateful for the opportunity. If it leads to getting paid: great. If not: you still get the skill and experience.

    Why the constant outrage about this topic? There’s been a lot of fuss on this site about unpaid internships, but I have yet to hear of an example of someone’s life or career being substantially upset by an unpaid internship. I’m sure there are examples of this, but the concern about it seems disproportionate to the reality.

    • http://www.aceandson.com Richard O’Connor

      Say you pay everyone you work with -sometimes belatedly, sometimes poorly -but they get paid.

      This puts you at a competitive disadvantage with similarly sized production companies who can trim 10% from their budgets by having people with similar skill sets do the work for free.

      In turn, the market price for animation deflates. Not too long ago it was 12k/minute for long form and 2k/second commercial. Is it merely co-incidence that going rates have bottomed out as buyers have found way of getting work for free (whether through studios or directly)?

      Anyone who works in animation and has seen their rates cut, or their clients go with the “intern” option has been upset by this trend.

      • Michael Rianda

        I see your point about going rates bottoming out. I was looking at things from a student opportunity/studio talent search/studios saving money standpoint.

  • http://www.spiteyourface.com tony mines

    I would be interested to know the geography of anyone defending the practice of internships. First and foremost if you do a days work you should get a days pay, and if you are doing specialist work you should get specialist pay. I graduated many years ago with this mindset and have never had to work an unpaid day to climb any hypothetical ladder.

    Maybe some of you Burbank guys think there’s some sort of an industry to be getting a foot in, some bunch of studios making cartoons or something, but there isn’t. There is only projects and circumstance. Most animators stretch their living across tv shows, movie vfx, advertising, whatever; and are at the mercy of all these disparate employers conforming to some sort of consistent ideal that suits them. And that aint’ gonna happen unless someone makes them. All employers should be subject to the same laws (as Amid points out, they probably are) and those laws should dictate that everybody makes a living.

    The only negative aspect for smaller businesses comes when the ABSENCE of enforcement creates an unfair market which FORCES said business to take unpaid work to stay competitive.

    Our small business has carried copy on it’s website for a decade, telling intern applicants where to stick it. It’s with good reason.

  • Matt

    A couple of summers back Cartoon Network buckled under pressure to start paying interns, each production had to pay the interns out of their own budget, which were already tight. So instead of the 2-3 interns they could only afford 1 each, and some departments couldn’t afford any. The studio went from 12-18 interns a term to about 6 or 7. So 10 people who otherwise would have had opportunities to experience the studio system, network, and possibly land jobs were out of luck each term.

    I was an unpaid intern at Cartoon Network in 2006, we weren’t allowed to produce any artwork that would be used by the studio due to union regulations, so we were left with doing production work, sort of like assistants to the production assistants and coordinators. The tasks were menial in nature and I never felt abused. There were about 16 of us interns there at the time (2-3 per show/department.) We were all able to move about the studio and meet artists and producers and learn the ins and outs of a TV production, get critiques, and pitch our own ideas. It’s because of the connections I made at that time that I was able to land a temp job there, then a production assistant job and finally make the jump to storyboard revisions and storyboarding. The knowledge gained from my internship far surpasses what I would have been paid, so for me the more interns that get to experience an internship, the better and if that means not being paid, so be it.

    I also think that once an intern is getting paid, there comes an expectation from managers to get their money’s worth out of them. At CN I saw interns being tasked with work much more after they started getting paid, but that may have also been due to having less interns to divide up the work. Either way, I think it ruined the intern program there and students are the ones who get hurt by it.

    • http://www.spiteyourface.com tony mines

      Which part of this story doesn’t work if you had started with the temp job? Which part of not being paid do you think contributed to your learning the mechanics of production and in meeting artists and producers? It seems to be the part where you were making the tea? It’s certainly not the part where you weren’t allowed to produce work for the shows.

      If you remove the intern part of this story you are left with a system that only employs as many people as it needs and can pay, and leaves out the part where the kids are doing menial unpaid tasks in pursuit of a job that the studio apparently can’t afford to give them?

      It is precisely the practice of employing unpaid persons that allows executives to reduce those budgets to begin with. If everyone was obliged a wage by law (they are) that would force senior levels to reassess what is the universal standard for production budgets, creating a better work environment and product.

      • Matt

        My temp position was the direct result of a recommendation made by somebody I worked with while I was interning. I would not have gotten it if I hadn’t interned because I was not a member of the temp agency CN normally used. I would have had a much more difficult time getting my foot in the door otherwise.

        I never once made tea or coffee for anybody as an intern, and I don’t recall any others doing so either.

        If the intern positions were paid I may not have made the cut since less positions would have been available, and I interned for a small department that would not have had a budget for an intern. If I hadn’t gotten the position that would mean I wouldn’t have gotten to work with and watch as Thurop Van Orman created the Flapjack pilot. I would not have gotten animation feedback from Mike Kunkel, sit in on storyboard pitches by Sherm Cohen and Bill Reiss, sit down and discuss storyboards with Kelsey Mann, met JG Quintel and Mike Roth and had an awkward conversation with them about storyboarding and the numerous penis-themed caricature post-its on their wall, there were countless others who I crossed paths with and helped me learn and grow as an artist. I wouldn’t have met my manager at the time either who recently gave me some freelance work for a show she produces to do during a hiatus, 6 years after that internship ended.

        No intern can produce artwork for the shows, since they’re not union artists, whether they are paid interns or not. So that’s an avenue of learning that is closed for all of them.

        Most intern tasks were basic photocopying, running to the mail room for stuff, researching things, but 80% of the time we were looking through the servers at designs, storyboards, reading scripts, watching pilots and animatics, and just absorbing as much as we could. If producers and senior levels reassessed the budgets with the work interns do in mind as something they have to pay for, they will just cut the interns completely and have the PAs, PCs and Production managers split up the little amount of work and be done with it. Nobody makes any extra money, a few people have to do a couple more mundane tasks, a few college students are left looking for an internship, and budgets remain the same (exactly how it really went down by the way.)

        Would it have been nice to get paid as an intern? Yeah, but if it meant an increased risk of getting a rejection letter, I would have gone without pay again.

  • Kevin

    You will likely learn more practical skills in an internship – paid or not – than in most classrooms. Plenty of intern programs are filled with high-maintenance, entitlement drones killing time for credits. They can be more trouble than they are worth.

    • Tak

      So either make use of them, or don’t have them. If you are making use of them and they are adding to the product and the companies bottom line, then pay them a fair and equitable amount of money for any of their input, effort, time & services, be they a trainee, recent graduate, new staff or long time staff member. The more experience they have and/or the harder they work or the more talented they are, the more they accomplish for the company & add to a project in service of maintaining it’s revenue via the delivery of a good & sell-able product. And therefore they are valued more & earn more the longer &/or the more talented & proficient they are &/or the higher their quality & quantity of work is. And therefore anyone who requires time & training in order to do the job starts at a lower rate & works their way up, or maybe they’re a prodigy or rock-star coming in from outside the company and instantly become a valued & highly contributing staff member, be they a fresh but talented graduate or industry veteran. It also gives the incentive to the company to start a training program to maximize the abilities & potential of all their staff members and also to start to invest in college youth & potential future staff by opening their doors to work experience, summer internships & talent development programs via the college/university programs that are training students in the specific areas that the company requires. Then you’ll get the whole gamut of internships From…
      A.) The “Summer Work Experience” or lite internship, with: practical mock in-house training tasks, over the solder learning, networking, the opportunity to show student work to professionals for critique. Part of & done during the interns university/college attendance & counts as a semester subject or graduating course credits.
      B.) The involved assistant or part-time junior or underling in an assisting type role style of “internship”. The intern gets remunerated relative to the amount of & type of work that he or she accomplishes while at the company, but is primarily there to train with staff & work his/her way up to being a capable full time staff member.
      C.) The Full “Professional Graduate Internship” or entry level position to anyone starting out at the company, [be they industry veteran or fresh grad]. A Short Contract full time employment of the outstanding candidate. Thrown directly into the deep end on real work with real expectations & standards of professional polish creating real product. Hire/[extend contract] or let got based on a series of performance reviews & the studios own current ability to take on new long term full time staff.

      If you don’t have the ability to do any of these, then don’t, but then again you generally won’t be able to grow your company without doing at least two out of the three. If you were to only ever offer option C.) you’d eventually run out of folks who were capable, talented & employable enough to be company staff. Training needs to start somewhere, it’s an investment buy the company in it’s future Human capital i.e: People, which, believe it or not, are far more important & valuable to any company than cold $cash$ is, because they are THE MEANS in which to acquire cash revenue, as they’re the ones who make/build the things, accomplish the tasks, complete the projects, brainstorm possible solutions & solve problems. So what’s the good business lesson here? Train, invest & fairly reward/remunerate your human capital for the work they do, regardless of their title at the company. Rather than paying yourself 17 Million dollars annually as CEO while everyone else is capped at 30k.

      Or you could always go & invest all your billions of dollars in blue-chip stocks [the primary source of economic imbalance & unearned wealth in the world], why not try FaceBook? And watch all that money evaporate one day via some non-entity company with no hard assets. Oh, I’m sorry, did I say “no hard assets”, I mean to say: “A Data collection and marketing platform”, whooo yeah, that’ll totally replace the need for food, or houses, or shoes & completely justifies the mountains of money. You could also give your billions of dollars all to Greece & the Greek Government, I’m sure their politicians would promise to do their best NOT to totally screw it all up once again. And you sure can trust politicians, can’t you?

  • Sk8r

    I wouldn’t have the career I do if not for the internship I got in college. I would have had no way in! But now I see interns doing much more work then they ever gave me. More complicated work that, in some cases, should be done by one actual position & not just assisting like I did.

  • Joseph Kastner

    That’s what we need – more government regulation. Smaller businesses aren’t in the position where they can offer paid internships. But, according to commenters like Tony Mines, tough shit. I guess gaining experience and knowledge of the industry or business they are interning for means jack. The fact they should feel privileged just to be there doesn’t dawn on people like him.

  • Peter Kasim

    I don’t see any problem with unpaid internships as long as there is no lying involved. If someone chooses to partake in such a role it is their choice and they should do so whilst weighing up the associated positive benefits and negatives. I personally know many people who have undertaken unpaid work (including myself) and have used it as an indispensible launchpad into their current successful careers. I hate the mollycoddling, backwards totalitarian attitude that says people can not make their own informed chopices on such matters

  • Daisy

    I know some people mentioned that there are those who are willing to go without pay because of the invaluable experiences they gained, but that does not mean we can just ignore some cases of blatant abuse. This is just going to fuel the vicious trend, companies are going to disguise free labour with “invaluable work experience”. However i understand the introduction of new regulation, if not carefully considered, may cause companies to stop offering internships and instead outsource for cheap labour. Internships are great opportunities and any new regulation should not severely restrict or discourage companies from offering them. I propose that an unpaid internship should be allowed within a certain time frame , whereas after that period of time, the company is required to pay the intern. It will be difficult to decide the time frame but it should be based on the nature of the work.

  • http://www.aceandson.com Richard O’Connor

    Whether someone “sees any problem with” or has personally benefitted from programs like the ones described in the article is immaterial.

    They are illegal.

    If you want your opinion to count, change labor law. There will be plenty of industry bigwigs to help you lobby. The lawyers and lobbyists will definitely be doing it “for a leg up”.

    It’s very nice that people are willing to labor for free (charity, after all, is a the touchstone of morality) for poor old Time Warner or Viacom -who, as far as I can tell haven’t had any recent problems paying their rent -but the majority of these programs are against the law . Teeth gnashing and pleading their benefits don’t change that fact.

  • http://www.ryancomiskey.com ryan

    I’m confused:

    “Wang’s internship was just like many of the thousands of others: unrewarding in terms of both pay and marketable experience.”

    “(…) that was before a couple of interns sued Fox Searchlight in September after they were tasked with the responsibilities of production assistants, bookkeepers, secretaries and janitors without wages. This wasn’t mindless coffee-fetching, they argued. These were entry-level positions that were being filled by unpaid hands.”

    This article needs to explicitly define what an internship is.

    Are they looking for “Marketable experience” or are “Entry Level Positions” a bad thing?

    Is working for free at all is unacceptable during a recession or do people still need to get a foot in the door while others can’t handle the heat?

  • Q

    I was an unpaid internship at Nickelodeon last fall. it was maybe the best job I’ve ever had. I’d largely echo what Matt said about his Cartoon Network internship — it was an amazing opportunity to network, get feedback and learn about the studio environment, and directly contributed to other companies taking my resume seriously and getting me a job at a VFX company as a PA (where I currently work).

    I had to work incredibly hard to excel at Nickelodeon, work part-time to eat and pay the rent and go to class.

    I think the big thing is that if you’re not willing to work for free, somebody else is. The toughest part about entry-level positions in the entertainment industry is how expendable you feel, at least starting out.

  • andy

    To play devils advocate; What if they are being compensated what they are worth? No experience, undeveloped work ethic, untrained eye, and no references. Economically, its a fairly large risk for a studio. With heavy regulations and legal hurdles, it may become unviable for a studio to hier fresh talent with no experience. Why pay someone with no experience, $20 per hr, when you can get someone with a little more experience for the same price? What may be done as an attempt to protect new talent may do more to hurt them in the long run. Great caution and reason must be employed before advocating state action.
    Fyi: I am just a lowly artist, not an owner or anyony in power, I just happen to study economics as a hobby.

  • Geo

    The bottom line is that most studios can afford to pay interns minimum wage, they have the money. The studios simply choose to keep that money for themselves because they can.

    Yes, as many have said, unpaid internships can be a great experience. That same internship with a small paycheck would be an even greater experience. A paycheck would also teach the interns that their time is valuable and worth something. That is probably the one lesson that most young artists need to learn the most.