Two years ago, they didn’t stand a chance. Two days ago, when I heard they had won, I dug the e-mail out of my inbox: “I’ve been glad to read about your upcoming book, Intern Nation. I recently worked as one of approximately 20 illegally unpaid interns for the Oscar-nominated film Black Swan.” The e-mail was from Eric Glatt, a 41-year-old New Yorker who admitted that he fell “outside the norm” for an intern, with his two Master’s degrees and substantial career experience under his belt. Like many older interns in today’s labor market, he was transitioning careers and had no idea how brutal it would be. In 2010, he worked hundreds of hours on the set of Black Swan, doing the essential work of drawing up purchase orders, making spreadsheets, running errands — and earning nothing for his work, not even the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. There was no training. There were no full-time jobs waiting at the end of the rainbow. “Win-win” was an empty platitude. The reality was that Glatt’s “employer” was getting something for nothing. Black Swan went on to make over $300 million. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Glatt’s employer, is a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., with annual revenues around $35 billion. Learning afterward that his internship had been against the law, and that he was far from alone, Glatt e-mailed me to ask if I knew a lawyer who would take on his case. No intern had filed a case like this before, I told him, but I put him in touch with Adam Klein of the New York City firm Outten & Golden. (Just to be clear: I received no compensation for connecting them, and have no financial stake in the case.) Within a month, Glatt and fellow plaintiff Alex Footman had filed against Fox. Interns are used to being laughed at, but all of a sudden things were deadly serious. (MORE: The Internship: A Google-centric Guide to a Google-centric Movie) In the resulting lawsuit, the small amount of backpay at stake
While a new report puts the average debt load of new college grads at a stomach-churning $35,200, the Georgia Institute of Technology is rolling out an alternative program experts say offers a beacon of hope for both students and employers: A three-year master’s degree in computer science that can be earned entirely online — and that will cost less than $7,000. The school is partnering with Udacity, a for-profit provider of MOOC (massive open online course) education, and AT&T, which is contributing $2 million and will provide connectivity tools and services. “We believe this program can establish corporate acceptance of high-quality and 100 percent online degrees as being on par with degrees received in traditional on-campus settings,” a statement from the school says. This isn’t academia’s first foray into offerings that promise some combination of low cost and high tech education, of course, but it’s the first one that industry observers say has the potential to shake up the status quo. “Georgia Tech’s announcement probably is a game changer that will have other top-tier universities that offer degrees in computer science scrambling to compete,” says Asa Sphar, vice president of recruitment and profiling at tech recruiting company CSI Executive Search, LLC. The price is a key factor in that. ”MOOCs are open and free—unless you want to attach any type of assessment, credentialing or professional certification to them. Certification, assessment and authentication of college level learning is not free,” blogger Vicky Phillips writes on GetEducated.com. According to research by GetEducated.com, the average cost of an online computer science master’s degree program is just under $25,000. Georgia Tech undercuts that average by more than two-thirds. “It’s big step forward here” for a school of Georgia Tech’s caliber to offer not just courses but an entire graduate degree online, says John Challenger, CEO of executive outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Online education has a reputation — some would argue a self-inflicted one — as an inferior substitute for brick-and-mortar scholarship. Georgia Tech is a good candidate to pioneer an online degree program that could challenge those assumptions about
As if life isn’t unfair enough for the alarming number of people who are bullied at work—or otherwise adversely affected by such behavior—recent research suggests that a lot of workplace bullies achieve high levels of career success. In fact, their bullying and on-the-job achievements might just be related.That’s according to a new study (“Political Skill and the Job Performance of Bullies”) in the most recent issue of the Journal of Managerial Psychology, the first attempt to examine the correlation between bullying and job performance. It’s an important next step in understanding what appears to be a growing problem—or at least one that’s being discussed more often and openly—not least because it provides a new framework for understanding a significant aspect of the bullying dynamic. It might be a little counter-intuitive to imagine workplace bullies earning positive performance reviews, if only because we think of (and tend to characterize) bullies as cruel and angry individuals who target weaker colleagues. But while the latter notion is undoubtedly accurate, and the former quite often so, it’s also true that for a bully to carry on for any length of time her or she must hold onto a job. To be sure, some bullies survive and thrive because their employers and/or managers aren’t focused enough on the problem (more than half of U.S. workplaces don’t even have an official bullying policy). But many if not most are allowed to keep abusing colleagues because their bosses aren’t aware of their behavior, either because it goes unreported (many victims are too frightened or embarrassed to draw attention to their plight) or because the bullies are good at masking their behavior and/or fooling their superiors. That’s the focus of the JMP study, which was led by Darren C. Treadway of SUNY-Buffalo and Brooke A. Shaughnessy of the Technical University of Munich in Germany. The research team analyzed dozens employees at a mental health organization—collecting data on behavior and job performance over two separate time periods—to capture the individual differences and social perception of bullies. They were especially
The typical college graduate will leave campus this month owing nearly as much money as they stand to earn in their first year of full-time employment, new research shows. At a personal level, graduates toting up their private and government student loans, credit card balances, and personal debt will find the sum shocking. On average, they owe $35,200 and half say they are surprised by how much debt they have accumulated, according to a Fidelity Investments Cost-Conscious College Graduates Study. At a broader level, this debt has far-reaching implications for the economy as young people with starting pay of $44,455 spend much of it servicing debt—not buying cars and homes or beginning to save for retirement or emergencies. Some 70% of college grads have loans; many won’t pay them off for a decade. (MORE: The Myth of the Four-Year College Degree) The upshot is that young people are getting a late start building wealth. People in their late 20s to late 30s have 21% less inflation-adjusted wealth than those in the same age range 25 years ago, according to the Urban Institute. That’s partly due to the housing bust, which socked young people who had bought near the top. But student debt is a big factor. “Student loans are the second largest source of debt for today’s Americans in their late-20s to late-30s,” writes Caroline Ratcliffe of the Urban Institute in her blog. “By way of comparison, student loans were a relatively small component of debt for their counterparts in the 1980s.” Mortgages remain the largest debt source. Ratcliffe shared this view with the Federal Financial Literacy and Education Commission on May 14 as part of the Commission’s inquiry into student debt issues. She said that educating high school kids about college debt should be a priority, and added: “But teaching financial literacy at younger ages is also critical. The earlier in life a person begins to build wealth, the more time those assets have to compound and become more valuable. So the key is to teach more people to
The “Working Families Flexibility Act” is actually a business-friendly Trojan Horse.
One national restaurant chain realizes that over-burdening its employees hurts sales, as well as the company brand. Will more businesses follow its lead? In the business world, efficiency is king. The corporate quest to cut salaries and get more out of employees, thereby maximizing profits, is never-ending. At some point, however, increasing the workload on employees backfires. The burden becomes too much for workers to bear, and when employees are overwhelmed and can’t keep up with their duties, it’s just plain bad for business. Last week, Red Lobster basically admitted that it had crossed the line with the introduction of a policy aimed at increasing efficiency and lowering restaurant costs. In July 2012, the restaurant chain, owned by Orlando-based Darden Restaurants, eliminated the busboy position, demoted many waiters to lower-paid status as “service assistants,” and forced the remaining full-fledged servers to increase the number of tables they handled from three to four. At the time, Red Lobster said that the changes were being made after testing showed that diners and restaurant employees alike approved of the new policies. An Orlando Sentinel story published at the time of the switch offered some other perspectives: “We’re going to be completely worn out,” said Bob Meehan, a longtime server at Red Lobster in Lake Worth. “It’s definitely going to hurt service.” Chris Muller, dean of Boston University’s hospitality school, said worker morale will likely suffer. “If you don’t like the people you’re working with and for … it’s going to show,” he said. (MORE: Why Restaurants Have Been Holding Back on Hiking Menu Prices) Lo and behold, it appears as if Red Lobster is now acknowledging that these critics may have been on to something. Less than a year after the four-table policy was launched, the company announced it is reversing the decision, and waitstaff will go back to serving three tables at a time. A Red Lobster spokesperson told the Orlando Sentinel that while some customers liked the four-tables policy, once it was introduced around the country, “far more folks told us