[game_edu] [Fwd: [igda-qol] Unpaid internships are illegal]
ai864 at yahoo.com
Mon Apr 5 19:38:54 EDT 2010
The other thing I noticed about the article was that this is specific to certain locations like California (which have pretty strict labor laws to protect the creative talent). If you're in a state with less restrictive laws, unpaid internships might be kosher. I assume the thing to do here would be, check with a lawyer.
I'm hesitant to throw around the "you're a bad person" label here. In spite of what the article says, the game industry is not the music industry; "paying your dues" with an unpaid internship is not a given or a standard here. The only studios I know of that offer unpaid internships, tend to be VERY up front about that to any potential interns; for exceptional students, they will make exceptions and pay them; and because they know they're getting free labor, they are willing to work around the intern's schedule (i.e. these are not 40-hour work weeks, it's more like "show up whenever you want, choose your own hours"). It's hard for me to call that exploitative.
It also means the Career Centers at our schools should do their due diligence and know if unpaid internships are legal or illegal in the local area, and they should be able to tell you and tell the students, and also tell the companies that offer them. As educators, we can certainly be part of the process by making sure that happens.
From: baylor wetzel <baylorw at gmail.com>
To: IGDA Game Education Listserv <game_edu at igda.org>
Sent: Mon, April 5, 2010 6:13:58 PM
Subject: Re: [game_edu] [Fwd: [igda-qol] Unpaid internships are illegal]
How disappointing - the school i used to work for worked a long time to setup an internship program and now all students must take an internship. As far as i know, none of those positions are paid. Now that i have my own studio, those students beg me to let them intern for me and i do. Many ask if they can stick around and help out after their internship is over while they look for real jobs, and so far we've let them (although the hours they work vary wildly based on their whim). Guess i'm a bad person :(
Looks like you don't have to pay interns though if you meet certain criteria. Reid and the NYT article links to six factors that influence the legality. Paraphrased:
1. intern is getting trained, similar to if they were in school (not doing real work)
2. trainees benefit from the training
3. no regular workers are fired
4. employer gets nothing out of it (no immediate advantage)
5. interns aren't guaranteed a job when they're done with training
6. you tell the interns they won't be paid
You met those, you aren't an intern, you're a trainee and you don't have to pay trainees
If i'm doing something bad, bummer. Like most of the small studios that hire our interns (many of which are created by former students), we physically can't pay (you write software for free and hope to recoup when it ships). No one else here gets paid. And since they only work 10 hours/week, the work often needs substantial revision and we have to fill out forms for each of them every week (which is time consuming), it would be hard to justify spending what little capital we have on interns. We pay for dinner at the weekly meetings and devote a portion of their time to polishing their portfolios to help them get good jobs when they graduate
i certainly think people should be paid fair wages. But the reality is that small businesses like me in an industry like games where revenue is back-ended, i'm not in a position to pay anyone, including all the family members that got drafted. Not sure where that leaves us. i suppose it means we just stop taking interns
Sorry everyone we exploited :(
On Mon, Apr 5, 2010 at 4:47 PM, Sheri Rubin <sheri at designdirectdeliver.com> wrote:
>>Reid asked to share the below with you all - here you go!
>>-------- Original Message --------
>Subject: [igda-qol] Unpaid internships are illegal
>Date: Mon, 5 Apr 2010 14:34:20 -0700
>From: Reid Kimball <reid at rbkdesign.com>
>Reply-To: igda-qol at yahoogroups.com
>To: igda-qol at yahoogroups.com
>>I wrote an article about what I'm afraid could be a common occurrence
>>in the video games industry, illegal unpaid internships.
>>If anyone is on the Education SIG, I think they would benefit most
>>from reading this. Please share with them (I'm not on the list).
>>Game Designer / Writer
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