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letters | the value of an unpaid internship

Enforce laws to guard against exploitation

In his Oct. 31 op-ed “High value in unpaid internships,” Edward L. Glaeser perpetuates the myth that unpaid internships increase the likelihood of obtaining employment. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ Class of 2013 Student Survey, 63.1 percent of paid interns received one or more job offers when applying for a job before graduation. However only 37 percent of unpaid interns received an offer. This barely exceeds the 35.1 percent with no internship experience who received job offers.

Furthermore, for new graduates who had no internship experience, median starting salary offers were $37,087, as compared with $35,721 for those who had been unpaid interns. New graduates with paid internship experience received much higher offers of $51,930.

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In my experience, I do see beneficial unpaid internships, but I also see far too many that offer inadequate training for interns or, even worse, ones where talented interns are doing valuable professional work at the expense of out-of-work arts professionals. I think that this harms the employment prospects of capable graduates and damages the economy.

Properly designed internship programs are worthwhile, especially when wages are paid, but I believe there needs to be better enforcement of the existing laws to prevent exploitation and abuse.

Flip Johnson


The writer is chairman of the animation department at Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

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