Picture this. You are a little girl who has grown up always dreaming of being a princess. Then one day, someone takes the crown you have so desperately wanted to wear and stomps on it until it is shattered into little pieces right before your eyes. All your hopes and dreams of being a princess are forever crushed.
Young aspiring journalists are going to be faced with a similar situation in 2014. On Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, Condé Nast publicly announced that it would be discontinuing its internship program entirely, beginning next year.
One thing we know for sure is that the days of fashionistas roaming the halls of high-fashion glossies like Glamour and Vogue are long gone. Many media outlets have gone back and forth trying to crack the primary reason why Condé Nast would do such a thing. Condé Nast’s decision was finalized after the company was hit with lawsuits from former unpaid interns.
The two interns claimed they were underpaid and worked 12-hour work days at W Magazine and The New Yorker, which violates the parameters of an intern position. Lauren Ballinger, who interned for W Magazine in 2009, and Matthew Lieb, who interned for The New Yorker in 2009 and 2010, sued Condé Nast. Both claimed they were paid less than a dollar an hour for their tedious work. Brittni Hicks, a current paid fashion intern at In Style and previous intern at Condé Nast, has mixed feelings about the termination of internships.
“It’s definitely a game changer,” Hicks said. “Those of us that are trying to get our foot in the door with a freelance or entry-level position will have a slightly easier time. There will still be the same amount of work, and with no interns there will be more freelance positions available.”
Hicks, however, feels that many former Condé Nast interns would not be where they are now without their previous intern experience, especially at high-end magazines like Vogue.
Former Lucky intern Jena Johansen, FCRH ’13, is upset to hear about Condé Nast terminating its internship program.
“The experiences I had at Condé Nast taught me so much about the publishing and advertising industry,” Johansen said. “It was truly an honor to be in the presence of such talented individuals.” Johansen denies having ever been taken advantage of at Lucky and said that all her tasks had a greater purpose.
“I learned things there that I would never have learned in school,” Johnasen said. “I feel that college does not prepare students at all for what the real world is actually like.”
Johansen said that being a part of the Condé Nast team for two years at Condé taught her so much more than sitting in a classroom lecture ever could have. She thinks that the termination of future internships will have a detrimental effect on students interested in getting their foot in the door.
Melina Hopcroft, a former fashion intern at Cosmopolitan, has similar views to Johansen. She is very upset about the news, but understands Condé Nast’s concerns for wanting to eliminate its internship program.
“They are technically saving themselves from future lawsuit problems in their internship program,” Hopcroft said. However, she believes that Condé Nast’s decision can either make or break their company. “This can be a huge wake up call for the corporation that’s going to either help or hinder them.”
Furthermore, Hopcroft thinks that magazine internships are very beneficial to college students. Her experience at Cosmopolitan was amazing. “I think if someone is accepted as an intern, it is a great hands on experience for a college student. It lets them see how the company works before going into a full-time job. I think interns should know what comes with being involved in the magazine industry — long days, some late nights, and loads of tasks.”
Hopcroft says that while it is unfortunate that interns at Condé Nast were paid below minimum wage, the first time they received their low paycheck they should have spoken to someone about it.
Dreams of interning at topnotch magazines like Vogue, W, GQ, Vanity Fair, Glamour, Lucky, Allure and Teen Vogue, will remain just that, dreams. But, fashionistas should not panic.
There might still be hope of landing a glamorous internship, just not within the walls of Condé Nast. Companies such as Hearst Magazines and Time Inc. will still be continuing to run their semester long internship program for undergraduate students interested in careers in the in the magazine world.
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