On Wednesday, WWD reported that Condé Nast publications will be eliminating its internship program come 2014.
Unpaid internships in the fashion industry were brought to light in February 2012, when former Harper’s Bazaar (owned by Heart Publications) intern Diana Wang, sued the publication for unpaid wages. The case was dismissed, Wang appealed, and a conclusion has yet to be reached.
Only four months later, two former Condé Nast interns—Lauren Ballinger, an intern at W magazine in 2009, and Matthew Leib, an intern at The New Yorker in 2009 and 2010—filed their own lawsuits against the publishing conglomerate. Their lawsuit is also still pending.
Following the aforementioned suits, Condé Nast revamped their internship program, enforcing stricter regulations that limited the hours interns could work, provided a semester stipend, and ensured students were partaking in job-related tasks, not personal errands. With new rules being put in place only half a year ago, it’s surprising that Condé Nast would take the plunge to eliminate the program completely.
Although current Condé Nast interns will not be affected by the company’s decision, its choice to eliminate the internship program could have serious implications on both students and the industry. Eliminating major magazines including Vogue, W, GQ, Vanity Fair, Glamour, Lucky, Allure, and Teen Vogue (sorry, budding Lauren Conrads of the world) as potential employers could hinder the experience budding fashion journalists and editors may need—especially since most industry insiders cite interning as the number one way to break into fashion. On the company side, a lack of interns could definitely slow down the operations of the fast-paced magazine environment. Interns are utilized for a variety of vital—although menial and time-consuming tasks—including sample handling and trafficking, assisting with market appointments, and assisting on photo shoots.
The Daily Beast reached out to GQ and Lucky magazine, who have yet to comment. Condé Nast corporate and Teen Vogue told The Daily Beast they are unable to comment on the situation.
Editor's note: The author of this piece is a former Condé Nast intern.