Thursday, April 5, 2012

Students paying companies to work for them? WHAT!!!

 I was sent this article the other day and it really brought some interesting incite as to the direction our world is heading in when it comes to working and getting paid for your work.You can check out the article here,

I think any smart person will know exactly where this is going. It is bad enough that many times artists are underpaid and undervalued. People saying things to us like, "well don't you like doing this stuff", "I am doing you a favor", "if you work on my project you will get a lot of exposure for your work!"

Well I am sorry to hurt all you people out there working so hard to get me exposure for doing what I love for a living, but believe it or not most people get paid for the work they do as well as get exposure at the same time after they get there pay check. Doesn't matter what field you are in. You get paid to do a job, you do an awesome job and the person that paid you tells all there friends and shows off your work and thus you get more work!

People forget that doing art for a living is really not much different from doing anything else for a living. I use my materials and time to create something for you that you could never create yourself and you pay me for it. End of story. Its part of the reason I never really liked the idea of a paid internship cause I always felt like something was fishy about them. Students get out of school and go work for a company for free for six months and then from there jump from internship to internship all along begging to actually get PAID!

I think we are being victimized here. I mean when is the last time a student took the time to actually look at the law and see what it really means to be an intern. According to the NewYork Times,

" Ms. Leppink said many employers failed to pay even though their internships did not comply with the six federal legal criteria that must be satisfied for internships to be unpaid. Among those criteria are that the internship should be similar to the training given in a vocational school or academic institution, that the intern does not displace regular paid workers and that the employer “derives no immediate advantage” from the intern’s activities — in other words, it’s largely a benevolent contribution to the intern.

"No one keeps official count of how many paid and unpaid internships there are, but Lance Choy, director of the Career Development Center at Stanford University, sees definitive evidence that the number of unpaid internships is mushrooming — fueled by employers’ desire to hold down costs and students’ eagerness to gain experience for their résumés. Employers posted 643 unpaid internships on Stanford’s job board this academic year, more than triple the 174 posted two years ago."

In 2008, the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 50 percent of graduating students had held internships, up from the 17 percent shown in a 1992 study by Northwestern University. This means hundreds of thousands of students hold internships each year; some experts estimate that one-fourth to one-half are unpaid.
In California, officials have issued guidance letters advising employers whether they are breaking the law, while Oregon regulators have unearthed numerous abuses. 

“We’ve had cases where unpaid interns really were displacing workers and where they weren’t being supervised in an educational capacity,” said Bob Estabrook, spokesman for Oregon’s labor department. His department recently handled complaints involving two individuals at a solar panel company who received $3,350 in back pay after claiming that they were wrongly treated as unpaid interns.  

Many students said they had held internships that involved noneducational menial work. To be sure, many internships involve some unskilled work, but when the jobs are mostly drudgery, regulators say, it is clearly illegal not to pay interns."

In other words, it is illegal for a company to have you do work for free on any form of production work that benefits the company. Internships are intended to be opportunities to learn a job not help the company make more money while they keep their costs down. On top of that, it is not just happening in animation, it seems to be happening everywhere in the US.  Internships are intended to be almost like apprenticeships. People should be learning how to do the job they are interested in doing not getting coffee and sweeping floors cause no one wants to be bothered with the intern. Nor should the intern be working like crazy and not getting paid anything for being there.

What is to stop a company from hiring nothing but interns and swamping them out every 6 months with more replaceable free labor? I have always had my issue with internships cause personally I couldn't afford to go 3 - 6 months without actually making money at a job that required me  to work for 8 hours a day. Increasingly, when I go to apply for a job somewhere there are always openings for unpaid interns that are just graduating from school.

But even worse then that is the idea that a company might choose to work side by side with a college so that the college can provide them with employees that will be paying tuition and working full or part time for free. In other words, students paying the company to work for them.

Rebecca David Social Media Ninja over on made some really good points about this issue in her article about the Digital Domain Institute. Since I really can't say it any better than here I thought I would post a piece of the article here.

"Let’s name a thing that you should never say about the work you do:
I pay someone for the privilege of doing my job. 

That sounds pretty ridiculous, doesn’t it? I mean, the whole point of a job is that it makes you money.  In exchange for your services and time, you are compensated.  Now, around here we have opinions on unpaid internships. I don’t like them. To be specific, I do not like it when eager students take positions where they do work that is part of actual production that then goes on to turn a profit. I get all shake-y and incoherent just thinking about it. Now, let’s turn things up to 11.

Digital Domain is charging students tuition dollars to work for them. They have opened up a school of sorts, where in exchange for student funds and government subsidies, they will allow you to work on their films.

This is happening down in Florida, where it’s being portrayed as a magical happening. And it sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Go to Florida State University, pay them all the money you don’t have for tuition and then some extra for food and shelter while you’re there. Then go meld yourself into a workforce at Digital Domain, where they let you work to your little hearts content on Ender’s Game or some other project (they apparently have many). Think of the opportunity! The connections! The work experience! The projects you can put down on your CV!  The goddamn EXPOSURE you’re going to get.

This is not okay. It’s not okay at all. Now I’m going to tell you why.

1. You’re taking work from people who want to get paid.
If you’re paying to work, then you are a taking a seat from someone who would like to be working to get paid. That could be someone who has been in the industry for a decade, or someone who just graduated and is looking to pay off their student loans with their brand-new skill set.

2. You’re teaching ‘the suits’ that they aren’t required to pay you.
Business folk are business folk, it is their job to make as much profit as possible. If you remember junior high math:

Profit = Revenue – Cost
Cost is things like rent for the building, the rights to whatever content you’re producing, the software for the production, the hardware for the production, and the crew that makes all the wheels spin. That’s you. You are part of the cost, so if they can pay you nothing they will. Except now you aren’t just free, you’re counting yourselves amongst their revenue. So now the equation looks a little more like this:
Profit = Revenue + Your Tuition + Government subsidies – Cost.
The suits of the world knows how profitable it is. They’ve picked out Digital Domain Media Group as a business to keep an eye on, with their potential profit margins.

3. The education system will indoctrinate you into thinking your work is not worth any money.
In fact, it’s teaching you that you are worth negative money. You are in debt to these people for being permitted to work for them. We exist in a market where people are constantly trying to undervalue our efforts. They think because you’re doing something you love that money doesn’t matter. They don’t understand the process of the work, so it must be easy, why would they give you a living wage?

My teachers were wise, they told me never to work for free, to always get a contract (even though that won’t always save you) and many other things so that I would be prepared for when someone tried to screw me out of money I deserved. Instead, this program will teach you that you aren’t worth paying for. They won’t tell you directly, but it’ll be there, under your skin.  So when you graduate, you’ll hop on over to an unpaid intern-ship with the promise of paying work in the future, only maybe they forget to pay you ever.

4. You’re skewing the curve for the rest of us.
The one thing that could be said for this program is that I guarantee you will learn mighty fast. They can coach, lecture and tutor you all you want, but in an industry like this one they aren’t lying when they say that nothing beats hands-on experience. I learned more about ToonBoom Harmony in my first 2 weeks of work than I did the 2 years they taught it to us in school. It has nothing to do with the competence of my teachers and everything to do with the fact that if you do something every day for 8-16 hours a day and it has to be done right because it’s going to be shipped somewhere else, you’re going to pick it up quick because there’s no other choice.

So you’ll graduate with all these skills, and a studio will pick you up for a (gasp!) paying gig. You’ll be great at it, but they’ll pay you half of what you deserve because you’re a fresh graduate. You will take the job, because you’re a graduate and you like eating. As a result, maybe that studio won’t hire a graduate from another school, and their skills go un-nurtured. They go work at EB Games for 10 years. The notion of what a graduate should be able to accomplish is hiked up, so an industry already wary of investing in the fresh-faced and shiny will lean even further into their rut of hiring only people who’ve already been working for 5+ years (and you, they’ll hire you. And they’ll pay you. A bit.)"

One of the things I really feel here in her article is the consistent rise in standards that people have to meet in order to get a job. I have felt like this has been going on a long time I see it more and more on job boards where people are expected to have not just a BA in there field of work but they also have to have already gotten 3 - 5 years of experience before they will get considered for a position.

Where are all the entry level jobs going.

If you get out of school and are ready to start looking for work you cant even begin to do so cause you don't already have experience. You know it use to be people got paid training to do what they wanted to do for a living. You cant even get a job as a janitor now a days with ought some sort of college degree and some work experience. A person would think that with all there years of schooling and interning to get the required experience that it would mean you would get paid more but truth be told you get paid just as little as all the other inexperienced worker bees.

In the end it seems like all this is becoming more and more of a scam, getting desperate people in deep debt because of student loans they were told they had to have in order to get an education and to get a job, to basically settle for doing more and getting less. This can not continue.

Some additional reading:,0,510435.story

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