Commentary

Conde Nast's Renewed Internship Program Is Another Sign Of Returning To Normalcy

Condé Nast is bringing back its summer internship program, eight years after canceling it amid a class-action brought by former interns who claimed they were underpaid. The renewed program is another sign of things getting back to normal after the pandemic disrupted work for many people in the publishing business.

The publisher of titles including Vogue, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, this month announced on LinkedIn that it was seeking college students entering their senior year for 10 openings. Applications are due on April 14 for the 10-week program, which starts on June 1, according to the company's jobs site.

Some of the jobs sound like they require real know-how that's more advanced than the intern tasks of yesteryear -- such as taking messages and fetching coffee.
The "global brand strategy" intern will be asked to "assess the current state of our business and brand in the category to identify opportunities — including changing competitive landscapes." The internship will culminate in a presentation to Condé's brand steering committee, which is made up of several C-suite executives, including the CEO.
I'd love to see what an intern has to say about those opportunities. Assuming the presentation isn't filled with PowerPoint slides showing falling ad revenue and encroaching competition from social media for younger audiences, it probably will highlight ecommerce and licensing as sources of growth.
The job description for "data marketing intern" says the company is looking for college seniors who know about "email marketing tools like MailChimp" and "proficiency in Google suite." That also sounds pretty advanced, but then again, I come from a generation that had to learn Lotus 1-2-3, an early spreadsheet program popular before Microsoft Office took over everything.
Condé Nast also is looking for interns in finance, legal, software engineering, video production and product management, among the remaining listings. These are paying internships, which should help to broaden the candidate pool.
Years ago, the company had a reputation for serving "as a kind of finishing school, an easy transition into the 'real world' for well-bred, well-to-do young women -- many of them from Seven Sisters colleges, more than a few of them debutantes," as The New York Times Magazine described it.
In short, you had to be rich to afford a starting job in publishing. But those attitudes have changed, and workers have become more assertive about labor rights, including those covering internships.
Condé Nast canceled its internship program in 2013 after thousands of former interns sued the company, claiming they were underpaid. The publisher paid $5.8 million to settle the lawsuit, which came amid a surge in litigation against media and entertainment companies that offered little or no pay for internships.
The return of the internship program is positive, not only for giving students a chance to develop workplace skills, but also as a sign that things are beginning to get back to normal after the pandemic.

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