Earlier this week we wrote about the growing trend towards unpaid work. We got a lot of feedback from folks who provided many more examples of work without pay.
The bottom line is this trend is more widespread than we thought.
Many of the examples we heard about were unpaid internships. This came as no surprise. There's a pretty active debate going on about the merits of unpaid student internships. SF Chronicle's The Ethics and Economics of Unpaid Internships does a nice job of summarizing the pluses and minuses.
We were also aware that many recent college grads are taking unpaid internships. But what surprised us was several people told us they were mid-career unpaid interns. It turns out several major corporations now have mid-career intern programs, including the unpaid variety.
We also heard about people who are working for free, but feel it's worth it because of the other benefits it provides.
In some cases they're working for free to gain exposure or build their reputation, common reasons why people write for sites like BetaNews for free. For example, I regularly write for other publications and most of the time I don't get paid. I do it to help build our credibility.
But in other cases the benefit they are looking for is to get hired - either as an employee or a contractor. In other words, they're trying out - and not getting paid to try out.
Not surprisingly, the growth of unpaid work is also leading to the growth of lawsuits related to unpaid work. The law firm of Outten & Golden even has a website to help drum up business for lawsuits of this type.
We're going to do some more digging on this trend. We're curious to find out how many independent workers use "free samples" (unpaid work) to attract paying gigs.