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The Rare Paid Internship

August 21, 2013

As you may know, Archivasuarus was born out of a growing frustration with unsatisfying (and often unethical) employment practices in archives and records management. While the You Ought to Be Ashamed blog (where Archivasaurus first ventured out into the world of labor advocacy) is full of case studies in “internships gone wrong”, I think it’s important to give some attention to that rare creature, the paid internship. I also believe it’s important to give credit to the institutions who offer them.

The archivist for the American Association of University Women recently posted this internship to the various SAA listservs. Unlike many graduate student internships in the LAM community, it offers a salary. I sent the following e-mail in response to the internship posting:

Dear Suzanne,

Although my current work commitments unfortunately prohibit me from applying for this incredible internship, I just want to take a moment as an early career professional and student to thank AAUW for providing a paid internship opportunity. This is, sadly, not the norm in many internships open to graduate students in this field (historically considered “women’s work”, by no small coincidence).

The choice to offer an hourly wage communicates that AAUW recognizes the value of providing fair compensation for professional work. I would expect nothing less from an organization like AAUW, which has a proven track record of advocating for fair labor practices and equitable salaries.

On behalf of many students and new professionals, thank you!

(second generation AAUW member)

AAUW is no stranger to the inequities of unpaid internships. According to this June 2013 article, three out of four unpaid internships are held by women. Since unpaid internships leave young professionals at a severe disadvantage for job prospects compared to those who have engaged in paid internships, the inequity of unpaid internships contributes to the gender divide among professionals. It also exacerbates class divides, since unpaid internships are made up of significantly higher numbers of students with family income below $80,000 than above.

On a related note, I highly recommend reviewing the National Association of College and Employers’ 2010 Position Statement on Unpaid Internships. In the meantime, if you want to get involved in labor advocacy for archives or write about a bad job posting/internship you’ve seen, contact the lovely folks at YOTBA.


From → Internships

One Comment
  1. Stephanie permalink

    Shout-out to my former workplace, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), that hosts a paid intern every summer. It’s a good opportunity to get work experience – they’re very supportive and open to ideas – on top of providing a wage.

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