Wonder why interns do menial tasks? One intern can tell you. I’m Amy E. Feldman.
An unpaid intern at HBO Max accidentally sent what was supposed to be an internal test email to hundreds of thousands of subscribers recently, requiring HBO Max to tell people the email was a mistake sent by an intern. In sympathy for the intern, people tweeted about the mistakes they’d made as interns, including one who unplugged the company’s main server to charge his phone. Even Monica Lewinsky kindly tweeted to remind the intern it gets better. Yeah, no wonder companies don’t give unpaid interns a lot of responsibility.
Here’s the thing, though: by law an internship can only be unpaid if it’s primarily meant for the benefit of the intern. It is a violation of law to call something an internship as a way to get free menial labor. There’s a simple fix, of course—just pay the intern minimum wage, and then you can tell them to do all the work they are capable of, which is to say: go stand there by the copier.