Meet The Fairy Godmother Of Unpaid Interns
Turner runs Ed2010.com, a popular resource site for those aspiring to work in the media industry. Starting last year, publications that want to advertise unpaid internships on her jobs board have to pay $20 a pop -- $30 if they want a tweet out of it too.
"I'm basically taxing them," says Turner, who is currently the executive editor of Parents magazine, which pays interns. (Read the full list of who pays and who doesn't.) "If you want to use me for their unpaid labor, you have to pay me."
This summer, she was able to give a $1,200 grant to two students, one of whom is interning at Oprah magazine, and the other at Cosmopolitan -- both magazines owned by mega-media conglomerate Hearst Corporation, which famously refuses to pay any of its interns, leading a group of them to file suit last year.
Unpaid internships are currently the subject of a bloody battle in U.S. courtrooms, but when it comes to her industry, Turner isn't one to sit on the sidelines and twiddle her thumbs.
"We can't wait for any lawsuit to create change. The courts take eons," says Turner. "That's not going to help this generation of kids. We can't sit around and wait for that happen."
Since many companies will continue to offer unpaid internships as long as they can, and students -- with few other options -- are willing to take them, it's the middle man who's now taking a stand. Turner isn't the only one to turn job-listing boards into the latest front of resistance. Earlier this year, two New York University students started a petition to "remove postings of illegal, exploitative unpaid internships" from the university's career listings site, and received over 1,000 signatures.
The gatekeepers of many university job sites say that they're fighting back against employers looking for unpaid talent. "One messaged back, 'OK, we can pay,'" says Mike Wong, the director of career services at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. "Sometimes the career services director just has to be an advocate for them."
Turner says that there was some backlash to her scheme, but she wasn't particularly sympathetic. "Perhaps Ed2010 shouldn't encourage people to intern at your magazine," she thought, "if you can't invest $20 for someone to be interning for you."
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Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.
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