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Archive for the ‘Internship’ Category

current internship

Posted by forlogos on October 23, 2007

Haven’t written about my current internship. Haven’t written much about B-school since I finally reported my unfair internship for FLSA violations.

Anyway, the summer term ended and I had two A’s and a B (I think). My internship ended and I went on break, with neither school nor an internship for a few weeks (ahhh). I spent my time looking for new internships or a job, working out, and doing my shoulder physical therapy exercises.

I started looking for a job and internships equally when my “vacay” started. As the start of the fall term got closer and closer, I searched for more internships and less jobs. Toward the end of August, I had a few interviews. I spoke with some people about jobs, but I wasn’t qualified for one reason or another (I had classes at 6pm and would need to leave at 5pm, but their hours were until 6pm – stupid reason of theirs, I know, but their loss). I also had a few great interviews for internships.

In the end, it came down to two companies offering me paid internships. I’d never been in this kind of situation before where I would need to turn an offer down. I turned down the company that I thought would be a better company for me if I wanted to pursue a career in their niche industry but thought would get along better with the people there (company Q) and accepted the offer that would expose to more things and provide me with a bigger learning experience (company W). They paid better too. So far, I’ve been enjoying my internship and am certainly learning a lot.

When I was deciding between the two companies, Q and W (random arbitrary numbers – to protect their privacy), I couldn’t quite explain why I felt like if I were accepting a job (long-term) and not an internship (only as long as the semester) I would choose company Q over W. But thanks to surgery-related Vicodin enlightenment, I know why now: the people!! Don’t get me wrong, the people where I am now, company W, are great. Both are tech-like companies, laid back, and very comfortable – everyone is nice and friendly and cooool. Guess I picked up on these hints unconsciously back then which is why I had the whole job vs. internship thing that I couldn’t explain. So here goes…

The people at W, where I am now are into: football, poker, dislike cold weather.

The people at Q, which I turned down are into: martial arts, snowboarding, skiing.

Doesn’t it all make sense now?

Anyway, in a few weeks I have to start thinking about my plans for the spring term. I’d like to have a different type of marketing internship by then. I’ve been learning more about marketing through internships and would like to continue broadening my experience. So far, I’ve experienced marketing consulting (in the summer) and now online marketing. I’d like to do some consumer-based product marketing or business-to-business marketing next.

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Searching for fall internships

Posted by forlogos on August 16, 2007

With my internship finally over, I’ve started searching for fall internships.

I’m off to a good start as I had an email interview last week and a phone interview today.  Hope I find a good place to intern soon.

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How To Report An Unfair Internship

Posted by forlogos on August 12, 2007

Building up on my last post where I reported my unfair internship, here is How To Report An Unfair Internship to the proper authorities if you ever find yourself in one:

  1. Try to determine if your internship is truly an unfair internship. Compare your internship program to what the law (the federal Fair Labor Standards Act) says. This article is a great guide.
  2. Find your local DOL office. You can find your state’s DOL website here http://www.dol.gov/esa/contacts/state_of.htm but you ultimately need to contact your local office, which might be a city or county office.
  3. Call them and let them know why you think your internship might be illegal.

That should be it. Pretty simple. Should be the same for most states, but there could be some differences.

No need to go through the steps I took (contact FLSA.com, then the National DOL office, then the State DOL office, and then finally the city DOL office).

I’m not an expert on this or anything, I just went through an experience and needed to share. If you go through an unfair internship, please share your experiences in anyway you can. Students and interns out there should now that they don’t need to go through an unfair internship and that the law (the FLSA) can help them.

Posted in B-school, Internship | 7 Comments »

reported my unfair internship

Posted by forlogos on August 12, 2007

I was finally able to report the company where I am interning in. I basically just gave the person who left the comment I talked about in my last internship post.

I don’t know how it goes for other states, but here is how reporting goes for New York:

  • It’s best to call so they can get the info from you that they need right away, rather than going through an email exchange.
  • You can’t really be anonymous. I can’t remember if you can’t or if it just wasn’t preferred. Anyway, they prefer that you provide your contact information so that they could ask you for more information, in case they need more from when you reported it.
  • They only get your contact info if they need to contact you. You will not be mentioned in the investigation in any way and your privacy is protected.
  • The info provided will be given to an investigator who will check the info. If needed, they will then investigate. One of the things they will do is to give a surprise visit to the company in question (they ask for suggestions of when to best do this).
  • The investigation will greatly depend on how cooperative the company is. I see a lot of companies arguing the validity of their internship programs – but it will be up to the government to decide whether an intern is really an intern or an employee, not what the company decides to label them.
  • Based on my experience while reporting, it feels that the MSN/AP article is pretty accurate as to what the NY DOL will do.
  • It will take some time for the entire process to go through. The DOL may even take the company to court, try to recover “back-pay” for unpaid interns, etc… but it all depends on the specifics of their findings.

Even though I heard that my school wasn’t going to send interns to that company anymore, I knew it wasn’t enough as there are so many schools and too many students that aren’t aware of the FLSA. I’m glad I was able to do my part with regards to this company and in sharing the steps I went through here.

A big thank you to the NYC DOL, everyone that I called and emailed, and to everyone that reads this blog and has commented.

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summer can begin and internship update

Posted by forlogos on August 3, 2007

I’ve been busy the past week studying hard for my finals and didn’t have time to go online at all.

Anyway, the term is over, finally, and now I can start enjoying summer!! I took my last test last night and now summer can begin…

A lot of interns left last week, as their stint at the unfair internship was over. Given the experiences we go through everyday there, I’m surprised we all lasted as long as we did.

If you are not receiving academic credit for the work you are doing, by law, you must be paid at least at the NYS minimum wage. If not, you can file a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards. Go to http://www.labor.state.ny.us/workerprotection/laborstandards/workprot/lsdists.shtm to contact your local district office for assistance.

This is the response that I got from my state’s DOL office. They responded the same day, but I didn’t see it as I had already started studying.

I also got a great comment on my last post (response from DOL) from someone in the NYC DOL.

Very good stuff!! I’ll give this a guy a call, let’s see what happens…

Posted in B-school, Internship | 2 Comments »

response from DOL

Posted by forlogos on July 27, 2007

I received a response from the DOL, which was actually the national office. Their response:

For paid internship, the U.S. Department of Labor regulations address employment relationships between employers and employees. Unpaid internships and volunteer work are not considered employment relationships since they are usually at- will and not compensated. However, if the volunteer or intern will be paid for their hours worked, the best office to assist you is the Wage and Hour Division.

The issue of paid internship, you may please visit www.wagehour.dol.gov, or contact the New York City – WHD – District Office at (212) 264-8185 for additional information. If you are unable to reach a representative or have not received a return call within 3 business days, please provide us with your name, address, telephone number and the dates and times you attempted to call the office, so that we can forward your information to your local office.

For unpaid internships and volunteer work are not considered employment relationships since they are usually at-will and not compensated. U.S. Department of Labor regulations address employment relationships between employers and employees. If your state has a law covering this issue, your State Department of Labor office is the best resource to help you with state employment laws.

Regarding unpaid internship, please visit the State DOL Office website at, www.dol.gov/esa/contacts/state_of.htm, to locate your local office, for additional assistance.

Please bear in mind that all I am trying to report is a company that is violating the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. See this article for more info.

The first thing I thought from the response was “Wow, they sound like they don’t know how the FLSA relates to internships!” Then I started thinking, especially since I couldn’t find much info about legal/illegal internships on the government websites, that my questions aren’t going to get anywhere and this company as well as many others will continue to abuse students. I almost feel that the article and FLSA internship sections were only written to appease some lawmaker’s family somewhere and that there is no system in place to adequately enforce this. Also, the second link in the response leads to a blank page.

Anyway, after some surfing I found my state’s DOL website and quickly sent them a message. Here’s hoping they respond with something other than “contact someone else.”

UPDATE: The second link works now, the server might’ve been too busy the time I tried accessing the page before.

Posted in B-school, Internship | 5 Comments »

waiting to here back from the DOL

Posted by forlogos on July 22, 2007

In the meantime I continue to toil at this unfair internship of mine. It’s been a bit better lately, but it’s more of the interns not listening to Z or Z going out of the office. In any case, I still consider it an unfair waste of time. I don’t quit because I don’t want to sit on my ass at home all day, but it’s usually the first thing I think of doing whenever I get there. Some other fun stuff that’s happened at the internship:

  • Weeks worth of work and research being declared as junk by Z, even though she hadn’t looked at it yet
  • Z declaring other people’s work as A+ and and others C-, all without looking at them
  • Z meeting with clients and turning them off by talking the whole time during the meeting and not letting them say anything
  • Z repeating the same two minutes of speech for an hour

There’s more, but I don’t feel like turning this into a whine-and-complain blog…

Anyway, picking up from my previous internship post, I contacted the people behind FLSA.com. I was told I can file anonymously at the Department of Labor website or through a hotline. But the website basically said that I can file a complaint (for a lawsuit) in person at any DOL office but not anonymously. The phone number was also another dead end.

So I posted my question at the DOL Employment Standards Administration WHD (Wage and Hour Department?) website. I left a pretty general question:

I found this article online: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18945459/ The company where I am currently an intern is clearly violating the FLSA. How can I anonymously report this?

They needed more info, so I responded with:

Based on the article I noted below, the company is making the following violations:

– the interns are not being trained
– there is no training and everything we are asked to do is clearly for the benefit of the company
– all the interns are displacing regular employees. We are all doing work that a regular employee would otherwise do – we are free substitute workers. There are about only three paid employees and about a dozen (twelve) unpaid interns
– the company has immediate advantages from the activities of interns

In addition, not all of the interns are working at the company for school credit. Some have already finished with their school programs – but this doesn’t sound a violation

Going back to my original question, how can I anonymously report this company’s violations?

So hopefully I hear back soon.

I’m thinking the next step I should take is to bring my issue to a bigger blog, one read by the New York Times, WSJ, BusinessWeek, Brandweek, Star-Ledger, Tribune Newspapers, Institutional Investor, Knight Ridder Newspapers, Medical Marketing & Media, Congressional Quarterly, Putnam Media. That blog mostly caters to pharma whistleblowers though.

Anyway, will update when I get a response.

Posted in B-school, Internship | 7 Comments »

Internship experience

Posted by forlogos on July 7, 2007

I work in a madhouse. Whatever image the company website provides is just that, an image. The truth is that it is a poorly run organization, which stems from its management.

A few days before my first day I received an email outlining the orientation/training schedule for the first day. This further made me think that this was a good company and a great choice for my internship. The orientation was scheduled to run the whole day or about seven hours. In actuality it was finished in three hours and was comprised mostly of do and don’ts and gave no info about the company. Some of the do’s included do fill your timesheet and always come in time. Some don’ts were don’t surf the web, IM, or use your cellphone. The orientation was basically all that. No history of the company, no orgchart, nothing.

Right after orientation me and another marketing major were introduced to the business owner. The company had just closed a deal to do some market reports for 6 Korean clients wanting to break into the US market. So she (the owner) gave me and the other marketing person print-outs of a 150 slide powerpoint presentation, which she claims to have put together in five minutes. So without knowing anything about the six clients, what their products or goals were, we had to edit the slides down so that only the relevant slides would be left. er????????

After an hour or so of doing this, she (let’s call her Z) pulled me to find wholesalers and distributors for the clients and tells me what their products are. She hands me a giant hardbound 2002 directory of wholesalers and distributors and tells me to mark the good companies so we can later type them up. Anyway, I do that for a while and I convince her to get the newer, online version of the wholesalers and distributors book (W&D from now on). It is being purchased as I leave for the day.

When I come in the day after, Z starts telling me all about the online W&D she bought and that I should start using it. She says this as if she had never seen me before and has no recollection of my part in getting the online W&D. So anyway, I start using it and assemble a good list for the six clients. I then join the other marketing people in doing market research for the clients.

I come in the next day and there are no computers available. There are no assigned computers actually. You basically come in and hope that there is one available for you to use. You can mark them by putting a physical tag on the machine, but no one pays attention to the tags so you always have to save your work to the network if you have to leave your machine for a bit or someone else will use the machine. Everyone is encouraged in bring in their own personal laptops so they can work. Isn’t that just wrong? Additionally, besides the owner, there are only two paid employees. The rest of the company is composed of unpaid interns. When the internship started, there was over 25 interns, now there’s about 15 left. So basically the company couldn’t do any of their work without unpaid interns. This is also wrong. We (interns) do all the work, have to fill out timesheets, and such, which in a way makes us treated as employees. According to how I understand the federal Fair Labor Standards Act this is illegal. See this post at the Unfair Internship Blog and the links to this MSNBC/AP article. Unfortunately, I’ve been too busy training BJJ and dealing with school work to figure out how to anonymously report this company for violating the FLSA. Hopefully I can find out how to do this soon.

Anyway, since there are no computers available Z sends me to the library to do research and download research papers and such for free. When I come back near the end of the day, Z had someone else do (read: repeat) the W&D work that I did the day before. This goes on for two more weeks. Z keeps asking people to do the W&D work, without remembering that other people already finished it, even if we tell her. So we end up with 20+ versions of the damn W&D lists. Anyway, it doesn’t take us long to figure out and for the one paid employee to tell us that we shouldn’t listen to her or do what she asks. In any case Z is driving her company down.

The W&D is just one example of her craziness and the absurdness of this internship. I can’t believe I left my well-paying job for this.

In any case, experience is experience and I can not only add this to my resume but can also use this to help me complete my career shift.

Posted in B-school, Internship | 3 Comments »

internship backgrounder

Posted by forlogos on July 6, 2007

I haven’t blogged about school (or anything but BJJ) lately, so I owe it to myself to finally write about this.

A few months ago I finally received an internship offer and I accepted.

I then started the process to get an educational leave of absence from work and training other people to do my stuff while I’m on leave. Going on leave rather than resigning is good because I have a safety net and will still be eligible for this term’s tuition reimbursement. It is a safety net because I can go back to my job, if needed, by the end date of my leave, which I picked to be in mid-January after my birthday. Leaving my stable job is hard enough, leaving it for an internship and uncertain job prospects is even more difficult. To top it off, there is nothing bad about my job – I love my boss, co-workers, everything, including the steady increase of responsibility that I’ve earned through the years – it’s just that I feel that big-Pharma isn’t right for me and I feel that my current career isn’t as fulfilling as it ought to be – I just have to get out and do something more suited to me. Anyway, I still get tuition reimbursement because I applied for it while I was still fully employed (not on leave), so by the rules of the reimbursement program, I’m still eligible for it. I won’t be eligible for the fall semester, because it will start while I am on leave and any applications I make for the program will be rejected since I am currently not fully employed (I’m on leave).

What sucks, besides having no paycheck, is that I now have to pay for the full cost of insurance. I used to pay about $20 a month, pre-tax, for full medical and dental benefits and now it’s $85 a month with taxed money. But I need the insurance as, if you haven’t been reading my blog, I have quite a few doctor appointments that I need to make.

So I started my internship in June. My unfair, unpaid internship. My job title is Brand Management Intern. Brand/product management is something I would like to get into which is why I chose this internship. The company is a small business owned by an old, senile, petty lady. Now, I’ve worked for small business before and had bad experiences – somehow though, reading about the company and surfing their webpage impressed me – so I decided to sign on. Big mistake!! I should’ve listened to my previous small business experience – but I have learned something though – I will never work for another small business again unless it is mine.

Ok, I think that’s a good backgrounder. I’ll follow this up with a post about my ongoing experience.

Posted in B-school, Internship | 2 Comments »

Catch-up: BJJ classes 69-71, ADCC, and internship

Posted by forlogos on May 7, 2007

I’ve been rather busy lately and haven’t been able to post anything for over a week now. Here’s my catch-up post for what’s been happening:

I was finally offered an internship last week and as a result I’ve had to make some very difficult decisions. I’m making a bold move in leaving my job to take this internship. It’s what I’ve wanted to do. It’s easy to talk the talk, but when it comes to leaving my job – – which pays for school, in which I’m comfortable in, am paid for, and have a great boss to work with – – to take an unpaid internship and face so much uncertainty, the first steps taken to walk the walk is very difficult. I’ve decided to take the internship part-time and have settled for a 3-day, unpaid work-week schedule. I’m hoping to have found a paid position or internship by the time the fall semester starts. If not, I’ll study full-time and really worry about what to do about getting an income again.

I’ve gone to three BJJ classes since my last post. I don’t remember much about them now, but I do remember drilling one of the first techniques I learned in BJJ, armbar from the top of North-South & a few other alternatives you can do from there and a few side control escpaes. (If I find time, I will post pictures of the techniques with my snowboard instructors) With my summer class schedule, I will be going to BJJ mostly on the Monday and Wednesday one hour classes – these classes are too short. Next term, I will definitely fix my schedule so I can go to the longer classes. I started out by going to the one-hour classes twice a week and learned some, but I didn’t really start to get better until I started going to the longer classes. Can’t wait to have those classes regularly again

I’m very close to hitting my one-year anniversary of learning BJJ and the 6-month mark for this blog. Yay for me!!

This weekend, I went to watch the 7th (2007) ADCC World Championships in Trenton, NJ. It was a wonderful two days. Marcelo Garcia is really the best fighter to watch. Xande Ribero, Kyra and Rolles Gracie, Leo Viera, and Jeff Glover all gave spectacular performances. Actually, I don’t know all the fighters names – many of them were really great, most of them were impressive and truly inspiring. Am at work as I’m typing this, and damn, I really want to roll!!

Posted in ADCC, B-school, BJJ, BJJ Class, blogging, Internship, work | 1 Comment »