Former Harper’s Bazaar intern suing Hearst may want to rethink career goal

The New York Times | Xuedan Wang’s portfolio site
Xuedan Wang, former “Head Accessories Intern” at Harper’s Bazaar, has sued Hearst Corp. for not paying her to work as an intern. The Times reports that she interned at the magazine for four months until December, working 40 to 55 hours a week. Regardless of whether the lawsuit is successful, it may get in the way of Wang’s career goal. She says on her portfolio website:

My long-term professional ambition is to become the creative director of Harper’s Bazaar. My rabid consumption of fashion magazines began at age twelve, and they were the tools of my fashion education…. Between now and reaching the pinnacle, I would like to toil through the chiffon trenches of any of the amazing fashion journals that I have loyally read over the years.

Hearst’s website doesn’t explicitly say internships will be unpaid, but it does require that interns be enrolled in school and receive college credit. According to the Times, labor experts believe a growing number of young people are accepting unpaid internships to start their careers. Labor laws require that internship programs are educationally valuable and don’t simply replace paid workers.

Reuters’ Jack Shafer responded to the news by asking why students don’t just start working on their own like Andrew Kaczynski, who unearthed old videos that contradicted politicians’ current statements. Now he works at BuzzFeed. The Washington Post’s Katie Rogers, Huffington Post’s Mandy Jenkins and KPCC.org’s Julie Westfall all say they didn’t consider unpaid internships.

The Times’ David Carr is seeking stories of media internships. Yes, more free work, he says, “but there may be psychic value in the venting.” || Related: New York Times offers unpaid interships after reporting on legality of them | News organizations should rethink unpaid internships | Stonybrook J-School dean says unpaid internships are unfair, discriminatory

Correction: The original version of this post incorrectly stated the length of Wang’s internship.

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