Even in the best of time, unpaid internship opportunities abound. The number of such options has skyrocketed seemingly as a result of the economic downturn.
For me, it's simple: you do the work, you get paid. Sadly, many companies choose not to pay -- or claim they can't pay for a variety of reasons that may (or may not) have any basis in reality.
That said, I'm heartened by the following response I received from a major Bay Area employer regarding their hiring of interns.
"You’re right that we do not host unpaid interns. As a company, we’ve adopted the practice that we pay all interns. This was put in place not only for risk mitigation on the labor law side but also to drive the principle that we value people’s contribution and do pay everyone that works for (name of company)"
Amen! And may companies offering unpaid opportunities reconsider their decision not to pay interns in light of such a perspective.