Writing for Women's Wear Daily today, Bridget Foley had some strong words this week. Taking on the topics of interns, Foley's column came on the heels of the official settlement of the Condé Nast internship lawsuit - which was reported earlier this week - and also follows the recently filed internship lawsuit against Gucci, among others. Here are some of the most striking excerpts from her article, entitled, Condé Interns — Extinction by Entitlement?
All [interns] came and stayed of their own free will, as I assume interns did throughout Condé and at Hearst. Working from that free-will premise, these lawsuits were ridiculous and disingenuous.
At the risk of sounding 110 years old, they strike me as episodes in Millennial self-absorption and entitlement. I don’t mean to cast an entire generation under that cloud. We have some amazing young people on our staff, several of them recent college graduates and former interns. I stole my current rock-star assistant and former intern Kelsi Zimmerman from WWD’s accessories department when another former intern I’d just hired left literally in the still of the night just before collections season, apparently because he found keeping the complicated show schedule beneath him.
It’s every manager’s goal and responsibility to identify and develop new talent. It’s a goal and responsibility, too, to hire people who indicate interest in and respect for the job that needs to be done right now, in the case of the editorial fashion intern, transcription, fact-checking, proofreading, closet-keeping, schlepping, excuse the expression, but editorial assistance. My guess is that the lawsuit interns were offended from the get-go by the pedestrian chores assigned them, but stuck it out expecting to get jobs post-graduation and when the jobs didn’t materialize, they fought back.
Just this week, Into the Gloss’ Emily Weiss reported an $8.4 million investment in her Glossier beauty line. You know what? Emily was once an assistant at W. That was after she was a famous intern — on “The Hills” on television — and she still wasn’t averse to packing a trunk.
The bottom line is that, though never a perfect system, the unpaid internship served a mutually beneficial purpose, one that a small but significant group of malcontents ruined for those who would have liked to follow in their footsteps.