"There's a lot more interest in making sure intern programs are structured correctly or, if an employer doesn't want to have any risk, then paying minimum wage," Olson said.
She said many employers believe they don't need to pay interns because they offer counseling and mentoring similar to what a teacher might offer in a vocational program.
"They view themselves as actually spending a lot of resources on these programs," Olson said.
But Yamada, the law professor, said the growth of unpaid internships unfairly leaves out students and graduates from lower economic levels who can't afford to work for free.
"If you're a college kid that has to make some money over the summer, maybe you go work for a food store instead of applying for that fancy internship in the entertainment or arts industry," he said. There's nothing wrong with a tryout program that lets them scout out the talent, but they should at least pay minimum wage."
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