Condé Nast Loses Their Internship Program: Why It’s Both a Hit and a Miss
A few weeks ago, devastating news hit the magazine industry stating that Condé Nast was closing down their internship program.
Condé Nast, home to major fashion magazines such as Vogue, Glamour, and Vanity Fair, has always relied on the work that unpaid aspiring journalists do behind-the-scenes of these publications. So, you’d probably ask – why would a major company get rid of a huge source of cheap labor? Well, money is the answer.
Two former Condé Nast interns working for The New Yorker and W Magazine last summer sued the company for paying them below minimum wage for their jobs. While the cases are still pending, this is not the first instance where interns have sued due to money issues. Numerous media interns, including interns at Hearst Magazine’s Harper’s Bazaar and Fox Searchlight Pictures, have also sued their places of employment for low or nonexistent pay.
The question is, should Condé Nast have eliminated the internship program altogether to save money in legal cases, or found some other way to employ these inspired college students and recent grads?
For an aspiring fashion journalist, working for free at Vogue could be considered an invaluable experience. Vogue is the “queen” of the fashion magazines and interns working in the field not only get the experience at a publication, but they also get their name out in the highly competitive magazine field. Putting those titles on a resume could be exactly what a recent grad needs to get a high paying job right out of college.
However, for other journalism students, interning for free is simply not a possibility. Many college students these days are paying their own way through school, balancing classes and work. For a student to pay to live in NYC for a few months, which is notorious for its high apartment rental prices, without getting paid to work day in and day out, is not a feasible option.
Ambition is one thing, but debt is an entirely different ballgame.
While many students and young professionals are drowning their sorrows over the loss of opportunity to work for some of their favorite magazine publications, there may be a few positives to the situation.
Chandra Turner, founder of Ed2010, a website that helps students find their dream internships at publications, spoke on the issue in an interview with Racked.
“If unpaid interns aren’t doing the work, somebody has to do the work,” Turner said in the interview.
The amount of work that has to be done at a magazine is endless, and that work will not go away just because the interns are going away. There could be a possibility that more paid entry-level jobs will open up to compensate for the work lost from unpaid interns.
The loss of unpaid internships could be the gain for paid jobs, which altogether could be a positive thing. Also, if internship programs continue to be cancelled, there is a chance that companies will have to lower their standards when looking at a potential new hire’s resume.
Also, as Turner said, many companies have so many interns working for them that there is no way that one single individual could stand out. This could make the experience useless in terms of using the internship to get your name out in the magazine industry.
Whichever stance you take on the issue, unpaid internships in the media field continue to pop up as points of controversy.
The question remains – what’s the price that you’re willing to pay for experience?