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Pay Your Interns
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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Today's environment is tough for the young professional. Not only are they competing against a multitude of other recently graduated colleagues, but due to the Great Recession, they are also going against the semi-experienced and experienced.

It's a tough market for job seekers, but a great opportunity to find talent for job providers.

But let us not take those seekers for granted.

In the agency world (and sports/entertainment), interns are a fabulous addition. They can assist in areas where there is a need but no room for additional capacity.

But we should give our interns a little more than just "experience."

In the not-so-distant past we were once on the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) National Committee. One of our charges included pushing the public relations industry (with the emphasis on agencies) to make sure that they compensated internships. We helped pushed the idea so much that PRSA agreed (in theory, we're not sure if it was implemented) that PRSA-member firms must compensate their internships, or face removal from PRSA.

Whether it is exchanging the work for college/school credit (which has monetary value) or providing some kind of stipend, agencies should make internships a way to attract the kind of talent they are looking for. We understand that some internships were unpaid because it was a way to see if people really wanted to be there versus being paid to, but times are changing, and if agencies want the talent they are looking for, they must enact policies that reflect it.

We can liken it to the "No-Spec" policy that many shops are adopting. When we do pitches to brands, aren't we offended when brands refuse to pay or compensate us for the work and time we dedicated to them? 

How is this any different?

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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