In 2013, in the wake of a class-action lawsuit, Condé Nast eliminated its longstanding and highly sought-after internship program, which had famously created career stepping stones for many working in the industry today. Eight years later, amid a pandemic that forced the publishing company (and several others) to lay off and furlough dozens of employees, it appears to be back in the U.S.
On Saturday, the publisher of Vogue, Allure, The New Yorker and more announced its 2021 Summer Internship Program on LinkedIn (see below), and posted a slew of positions on its careers site. A representative for Condé Nast confirmed to Fashionista that the company is reintroducing the program in the U.S.
These don't seem like the sort of loose, unpaid opportunities of yesteryear. Surely in an effort to thwart legal action, they appear to be more regulated: These internships are part of a 10-week program starting June 1 only open to those entering their senior years of undergraduate study. They're also full-time and paid.
Condé Nast's new internships sound more similar to the editorial fellowship program that the company debuted in 2015, which is also paid and full-time but accessible only to college graduates.
In the 2010s, lawsuits by former unpaid interns brought about a reckoning of sorts among magazines that had long relied on them for tasks ranging from the menial coffee runs and sample returns to the more substantial article-writing or photoshoot-assisting. First, a former Harper's Bazaar accessories intern sued Hearst over unpaid wages in 2012; the case was thrown out. Similar lawsuits later spread throughout the media industry, with Condé becoming the target of one in 2013 from two former interns from W and The New Yorker and ultimately agreeing to pay $5.8 million to settle what turned into a class-action suit brought by thousands who said they were underpaid for their work.
The conversation surrounding unpaid internships — arguing that they're scam to take advantage of desperate job-searchers in a bad economy, a pillar of nepotism and white privilege or an important way of getting one's foot in the door — has raged on ever since.