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Does the Devil Really Wear Prada? Unpaid Internships and Their Advantages

Internships are not easy, especially ones in the fashion industry.  They consist of long hours, running all over the city, and can be slightly mind-numbing at times. However, internships provide an experience everyone should be able to have if they desire. The recent termination of all Conde Nast internships due to former interns suing over unfair pay has sparked a major debate in the media world, fashion industry, and for college students who had been dreaming of starting their career at one of Conde Nast’s many publications.  The controversy leaves us asking, are summer internships a fair and good experience, even if there is no financial compensation?

Conde Nast Corporation is a world renowned company. They house a wide variety of amazing magazines including GQ, Vogue, The New Yorker and many more. The diversity within one company offers a multitude of opportunities for students to intern at various magazines, all within the same iconic building in New York City. The entire corporation stopping their program is devastating to the internship opportunity pool and limits so many young hopefuls from achieving their dreams of working for a major publication, or at least, getting their foot in the door. Their main competitor, Hearst is equally as influential in the journalism world, but they cannot possibly take on all of the students who want to become interns at a magazine or publication company.  

Of course, all former interns will have different opinions of their internship experiences. Every late night photo shoot, long run around the city for a pair of shoes, or lunch that needed to be picked up could be done with a smile or a frown. To some, it is a right of passage. Though some may feel as though they are being taken advantage of or that the requests made are ridiculous and unrealistic, internship responsibilities are clearly explained before ever committing to them and everyone is aware that there is a hierarchy in the system.

Fashion and journalism are not 9 to 5 jobs, with payment or not. Therefore interning, though different in many ways, is a preview of what having a job with the company would be like. It is also a great way to try and figure out your interests and possible future career paths. Everyone who works in the office is a valuable resource and willing to provide advice.  The lack of pay is absolutely made up for in experiences and connections made while on the job, not to mention the occasional free article of clothing or cupcake.

Conde Nast ending their internship program sheds light on the issue of who is capable of doing unpaid internships. It takes a lot of money to live on one’s own for a summer without an income. Though the opportunity is presented as equal for all, the ability to pull off the financial commitment is challenging for some and impossible for other. This struggle could be seen as all part of the experience, but for some who come from lesser means, it is a sacrifice they cannot make. 

For so many, having an internship, paid or unpaid, is an amazing opportunity and it is sad to hear that many young adults will not have the opportunity to do so at such a great publication as Conde Nast. 



Caroline is a Senior at Connecticut College, studying Psychology and Art. From childhood, her dream has been to work in the fashion industry. This past Summer Caroline was fashion intern at Marie Claire magazine and most recently worked for BCBG, her all time favorite brand, for fashion week. When she isn't busy, Caroline loves to make art, read, go on adventures with friends, shop and curl up in yoga pants and a cozy sweater. After graduation, Caroline plans to return to New York City and continue to follow her passion in the fashion industry. Follow Caroline on Instagram at @carodacosta or on Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/sweetcarol1n3/boards/
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