How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy
A Verso book
The first no-holds-barred exposé of the exploitative and divisive world of internships.
Every year, between one and two million Americans work as interns. They famously shuttle coffee in a thousand newsrooms, congressional offices, and Hollywood studios, but they also deliver aid in Afghanistan, build the human genome, and pick up garbage. They are increasingly of all ages, and their numbers are growing fast—from 17 percent of college graduates in 1992 to 50 percent in 2008. A huge and increasing number of internships are illegal under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and this mass exploitation saves firms more than $600 million each year. Interns enjoy no workplace protections and no standing in courts of law—let alone benefits like health care.
Ross Perlin has written the first exposé of this world of drudgery and aspiration. In this witty, astonishing, and serious investigative work, Perlin takes the reader inside both boutique nonprofits and megacorporations such as Disney (which employs 8,000 interns at Disney World alone). He profiles fellow interns, talks to academics and professionals about what unleashed this phenomenon, and explains why the intern boom is perverting workplace practices in locations all around the world.
Insightful and humorous, Intern Nation will transform the way we think about the culture of work.
- May 2011
- 5.9 × 8.5 in
/ 288 pages
- Territory Rights: USA and Dependencies and the Philippines.
Endorsements & Reviews
“[A] blistering, highly entertaining attack on today’s internship culture.” — Boston Globe
“That fact that it took this long for someone to write this book seems as blatantly wrong as the practice itself. Perlin provides a welcome, long-overdue and much-needed argument.” — Kirkus Reviews
“A book that offers landmark coverage of its topic.” — Andrew Ross, London Review of Books
“Perlin contends that most internships are illegal, according to the Fair Labor and Standards Act, stripping people who are employees in all but name of workers’ rights.” — New Yorker
“A timely book addressing the exploitation of the nation's younger workforce under the guise of the 'internship model.'” — Huffington Post
“Organizations in America save $2 billion a year by not paying interns a minimum wage, writes Ross Perlin in Intern Nation.” — Economist
“Perlin’s writing is engaging and the questions he raises are valid ones in an increasingly competitive job market.” — Library Journal
“[E]ye-opening ... The book tackles a sprawling topic with earnestness and flair.” — Washington Post
“Few books have been written about the effect of internships, so this short book will be eye-opening for many. Students and parents should add it their reading lists.” — St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Cloaked in the innocent idea of the intern, aggressive employers are using young people trying to get a foothold to weaken the leverage of existing workers, especially professionals. Ross Perlin gives us an account of another subterranean strategy to undermine working people in the US.” — Frances Fox Piven, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the Graduate Center, CUNY
“Alas, the valuable internship institution is being widely and flagrantly abused, as Ross Perlin demonstrates in this eye-opening book. A huge chunk of the American workplace has been distorted in an unhealthy way, and Perlin provides not only the diagnosis but the beginnings of a prescription.” — James Ledbetter, author of Unwarranted Influence