An Internship Paid or Unpaid can Make all the Difference - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

An Internship Paid or Unpaid can Make all the Difference

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An unpaid internship is a foot in the door for many young professionals looking to take that first step into adulthood. But they might become a thing of the past. A federal judge ruled this week that Fox Searchlight Pictures should have been paying its interns on the set of "Black Swan" for doing the same work that paid staffers were doing. Valley News team's Eric Crest talked to businesses in the valley, asking how they manage to thrive with a little help from their interns, paid or not.

At Microsoft's campus in Fargo their interns are all paid for the three months of work they'll be in town for. Don Morton the Microsoft Site Leader says it's an internship that offers much opportunity, "an internship for the young men and women we have in our program is a huge career boost for them."

More often than not at Microsoft the interns will find themselves with a job if they prove their worth during their summer position. Brenda Rohde a University of Minnesota Senior who is interning here says she's confident it will open up doors,"I feel like a lot of opportunities are going to open up for me because Microsoft is such a big company. And having experience with Microsoft, I'm going to be graduating in December, so I'm looking for a full time job."

But many other internships offer no monetary incentive. At the Plains Art Museum Colleen Sheehy, the Director and CEO says most of her interns do it for the experience and on the job learning.

"I think paid or unpaid, it's a real valuable experience," says Sheehy.

Rather than money the pay comes in the form of a foot in the door,"I've worked with dozens and dozens of interns over my career in museums. And it's a critical part of laying the ground work for museum work," says Sheehy.

Helping businesses find young professionals that are a good fit in their company is the main idea behind internships for most that are looking for the "help". One Fargo native who is now working at the Plain Arts Museum says he helped find his career path with much attribution towards his first internship, which was actually at the Plains Art Museum.

"It was really more about just having the experience and working in the trenches of the museum and really learning how to put a exhibit together," says Christian Gion the new Interim Curator.

While he didn't get paid, Christian says it's opportunities like this that helped him see his career unfold before his eyes. "I think it helped to clarify the path I wanted to take," says Gion.

So whether you think an internship role should include a paycheck or you just value all the experience. The experts just made it clear an internship should be something young adults seriously consider before taking the plunge into a profession.

The court case questioning whether or not interns should get at least minimum wage could have deeper implications for businesses. Some may rethink whether it's worth the legal risk to hire interns without pay. But from what we hear, it's hard to put a price tag on experience.

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