My lovely friend, Adrienne Wallace, spoke about paid interns at her acceptance speech for PR Pro of the Year or Badass Superwoman of the Year (I forget the category) and she is right on the money (or the lack of). In fact, I agree so much…I’m writing about it.

Now, before you get your knickers in a twister, yes…8THIRTYFOUR was powered by unpaid interns for the first few years of the agency. And boy did I feel guilty about it, those were some hardworking soon-to-be pros. What I couldn’t pay them, I did try to make up for with booze, food and lots of dogs – but it was never enough and it will never be enough. If you’re reading this…thank you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

While I’m at it, I would also like to stricken ‘intern’ from our vocabulary. It is just so insulting, I don’t hire interns, I hire associates that work with clients, slay projects and deliver results. They deserve to be paid for the work they do because it matters.

If you disagree with me, whatever. Here are the reasons unpaid internships shouldn’t even be an option anymore – and schools need to set that expectation as well.

  1. When is the last time you asked someone to cut your hair or clean your house for free?
  2. How hard have you ever worked at something that you didn’t get paid for?
  3. If a potential client calls you up, says they love the work you do but would like you to do a project for free – just so they can get a feel for how you work…what would you say?
  4. Employees feel valued when they are paid…weird right?
  5. If you don’t pay, you’re a jerk.

In conclusion, pay your interns.

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