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April 11, 2011

PRSA Comments on Ethical Use of Interns in New York Times Letter to the Editor

PRSA had a letter to the editor of the The New York Times published April 11, 2011,  in response to an April 3 op-ed that addressed concerns within the academic and professional communities about the ethical use of unpaid interns.
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Letters: Unpaid Interns: Rewarded or Exploited?
Published: April 11, 2011

To the Editor:

Ross Perlin cites the communications profession as one of many industries that routinely hire unpaid interns (“Unpaid Interns, Complicit Colleges,” Op-Ed, April 3). His assessment that colleges and firms are perpetuating a degradation of the value of professional experience for college students is admirable in its effort to raise exposure for this important issue. Recently, the Public Relations Society of America issued new guidance to public relations professionals concerning the ethical use of interns. We made clear our belief that it is unethical not to provide some type of compensation to interns, whether monetary or college credit.
 
It seems a stretch, however, for Mr. Perlin to argue that all forms of for-credit unpaid internships should be terminated. Instead, we should focus on the quality of professional experience and acumen these arrangements provide and the direct role that plays in an intern’s ability to obtain fulfilling postgraduate work.
 
We have a responsibility to prepare the next generation of professionals for more prosperous career prospects than ours. 
 
FRANCIS C. McDONALD
New York, April 6, 2011
 
The writer is on the Board of Ethics and Professional Standards of the Public Relations Society of America.

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