Author Topic: Thought experiment: Survive in DC on $1000/month  (Read 11545 times)

Case

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 808
Re: Thought experiment: Survive in DC on $1000/month
« Reply #50 on: September 13, 2016, 06:47:48 AM »
Hi all,

My cousin is a new American university grad who has accepted a "paid" internship in the heart of D.C. (Right near metro center). Paid is in quotes because they're paying him $1000/month which translates to a criminally low $6.25 an hour (DC Min wage is $11.50).

The obvious solution is to get a second job but, does anyone see a way to survive on the $1000?

He has a potential room mate so they're looking for a place at $1400 so they can pay $700 apiece.

Given that he'll also have to spend >$100 a month in metro just to get to work, that leaves <$200 a month for everything else.

I don't see a safe way to survive (if they can even find an apartment) but, thought I'd ask the forum for any survival tips.

Just curious, is it really criminal?  Are student interns always required to be paid minimum wage?  A brief google search indicated 'not always', but obviously I haven't searched this in depth.

Interns often don't bring much value to a company, and sometimes are even more of a burden to the person responsible to them.  Sometimes companies use internships as recruiting tools (e.g. a trial period), in which sense they eventually capture value by finding a good employee, or getting rid of crappy ones. 

Either way, the most valuable payment the intern receives is not the money they make but in the training and networking they receive.  If your cousin can't afford DC, he might consider looking for a higher paying job, or a side job.

Taking an internship after graduating is a little unusual; usually it happens during the summers before graduating.  If, for example, the company blurring the lines between new hires and interns in order to save them money, that is dicey indeed.  So I guess I'm curious if this is a "paid" internship or a paid "internship", if you get what I mean.

Yeah the whole line of "job versus intern" can essentially be boiled down to this question: "Who benefits the most from the arrangement?" If the answer is the "intern/employee," then yes might be classified as an internship. If the employer benefits the most, however, such as when the employer gives the "intern" grunt work that adds value for the company but doesn't really teach the intern anything, then it's likely illegal.

Agreed, you have described it very well, or at least what seems to be reasonable moral explanation.

druth

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 334
  • Location: 'sota
Re: Thought experiment: Survive in DC on $1000/month
« Reply #51 on: September 13, 2016, 10:01:11 AM »
Yeah the whole line of "job versus intern" can essentially be boiled down to this question: "Who benefits the most from the arrangement?" If the answer is the "intern/employee," then yes might be classified as an internship. If the employer benefits the most, however, such as when the employer gives the "intern" grunt work that adds value for the company but doesn't really teach the intern anything, then it's likely illegal.

With the exception of government internships...  Considering the OP is asking about DC this is a good possibility.

That being said my unpaid gov't internship did fulfill the requirements for an unpaid internship anyways.  Most of them are actually about learning.

historienne

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 376
Re: Thought experiment: Survive in DC on $1000/month
« Reply #52 on: September 13, 2016, 11:24:42 AM »
Yeah the whole line of "job versus intern" can essentially be boiled down to this question: "Who benefits the most from the arrangement?" If the answer is the "intern/employee," then yes might be classified as an internship. If the employer benefits the most, however, such as when the employer gives the "intern" grunt work that adds value for the company but doesn't really teach the intern anything, then it's likely illegal.

With the exception of government internships...  Considering the OP is asking about DC this is a good possibility.

That being said my unpaid gov't internship did fulfill the requirements for an unpaid internship anyways.  Most of them are actually about learning.

Or any non-profit (which is another huge chunk of DC employment).  You are legally able to volunteer your time to a non-profit, and they can give you a stipend without making you an employee (in which case, they would have to pay you minimum wage).

Milkshake

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 259
Re: Thought experiment: Survive in DC on $1000/month
« Reply #53 on: September 14, 2016, 07:47:03 AM »
Rather than worrying about if he should get benefits I  feel outrage that an employer can pay someone less than minimum wage.  I don't care how great the connections or experience is - all employment offers "experience."  If getting experience is a reason to pay an illegal wage, every employer could argue that they offer "experience" and "connections" to their employees. It's exploitive and wrong.

I realize none of this related to the OP and the issue of housing. General recommendation would be to live further away near metro stop or bus route, and have multiple house mates.

I need to stop reading this thread because it gets me pissed off every time I think about it. >:(

As others have mentioned, it's about who benefits more. They can use his help for small jobs around the office, and in turn he gets to get a good look at real-life work in that field. If Uncle Sam stepped in and said "Hey, pay all these interns minimum wage" then these companies would just stop hiring interns. They are not critical to the survival of the company. Now the companies don't get a test run with a potential employee, and the interns don't get experience, and it becomes even harder to find a job unless daddy has some friends.

I think internships regardless of pay amount are extremely valuable to the intern. Yeah getting paid more is great, but ultimately the experience is worth more than the paycheck. Not to mention, the employer doesn't get a whole lot added to their bottom line by having an intern. The interns usually are not skilled enough to save the company buckets of money.

And remember, these are temporary jobs that usually have time limits of about 3 months. Should they offer healthcare and 401k for the three months they work there too? Because not doing so could be considered "exploitive and wrong" as well.