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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Update: Good News for Unpaid Interns

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In February I posted an entry eloquently titled, “Unpaid Internships: WHAT THE WHAT?” wherein I lamented my daughter’s experience with unpaid internships. (See prior post, 2/11/2013.) My primary complaints with this system were: 1) employers paid nothing for the hard work of college graduates, or soon-to-be-graduates; 2) parents paid tuition to the university for our children’s unpaid internships; and 3) these unpaid internships often did not lead to a job. I am now happy to cite a recent AP article by Sam Hananel entitled, “Unpaid internships are under legal microscope.” Yay! The story is that last week, a New York federal judge ruled against Fox Searchlight Pictures in a suit brought by two interns who worked for free on production of “Black Swan,” a popular 2010 movie. Fox’s position was that the young men “received a greater benefit than the company” and therefore Fox wasn’t required to pay wages to them. The interns had apparently done routine administrative work, including filing, making copies, running errands and drafting cover letters; in other words, typical intern stuff. The Court, disagreeing with Fox’s position, noted that the interns had worked “in the office like any other employees,” regardless of whether they received some benefit from the internship, such as resume listings and job references. The reporter noted that the Court applied a Labor Department test to determine whether an internship can be unpaid, which includes the requirement that an internship “must be similar to an educational environment and run primarily for the benefit of the intern as opposed to the employer, and the intern’s work should not replace that of regular employees.” Now, how many students do you know who have participated in an unpaid internship that was set up primarily for their benefit? The only one that I can think of is one where a doctor allows a medical student to follow him around during the summer and observe the doctor’s daily routine, in order to give the student some idea of what his life would be like were he to follow in that doctor’s footsteps. There are other lawsuits pending that ask that all interns be paid a salary. This is good news for college students, most of whom graduate with debt and, despite one or more internships cannot find jobs; not to mention those parents who have had to subsidize their students’ internships. In the words of the interns’ lawyer, “[Unpaid internships] have just become a form of institutionalized wage theft.” Agreed. Here’s hoping sweeping change is on the way.


“Worst Senior Year Mom Ever”

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There’s a post by blogger Jen Hatmaker flying around in cyberspace that everyone is talking about. I’ve seen it referenced by several friends on Facebook and the author was invited to appear on the Today Show. (When is that going to happen to me? Come on, people…let’s go viral with this!) Really, her post hits so close to home and resonates with so many moms that I wish I’d written it. It’s titled, “Worst End of School Year Mom Ever,” and the premise is that we’re all excellent moms in September and October, but by the time April and May come around, we just don’t care anymore. As an example, Ms. Hatmaker cites the day her child informed her, towards the end of the school year, that he had to dress as Benjamin Franklin THE FOLLOWING DAY. She shared a hilarious picture of her little one with one of her fancy scarves wrapped around his neck and trailing out of the bottom of his shirt, as well as his white athletic socks pulled up over his pants, and declared, “Done!” We’ve all been there. My kids still die laughing, (or is it of embarassment), when they see a picture of themselves dressed as shepherds for their Catholic school Nativity play.

picture of caitlinThey have on their bathrobes, none of which remotely resembles desert attire. One robe was multi-colored with my daughter’s initials embroidered on it. To top off the costumes, towels were draped over each little head, held in place with the robes’ colorful ties. And that was at the end of the first semester!

If young moms are tired of projects, class parties, homework, teacher gifts, and birthdays in elementary and middle school, I hereby ask them to try and imagine how they’ll feel by the time their last kid is a senior in high school.  As a mom who has been attending/hosting class parties, teacher appreciation luncheons, team parties and PTO meetings for the last TWENTY (20) years, I think I qualify as an expert on the subject.  My advice to these young women: “Pace yourselves.” Sure, eventually there is no need for the baking and delivering of cupcakes to the cafeteria on children’s birthdays, nor is our presence desired anywhere near the classroom by the time our little ones are close to graduating, but there are many other chores to be handled. As soon as your child’s foot touches the entry hall of high school, there is pressure to get into a good college, followed by the hiring and scheduling of numerous tutors, coaches, music and voice teachers. There are Driver’s Ed classes to schedule, in the hope that another driver will make our lives much easier, if we can just get through the many, many hours of supervised driving during our teenager’s provisional period. There are the helpful seminars hosted by the high school counselors beginning in Junior year and continuing until graduation day, “How to Understand FAFSA,” “What College Admissions Officers Look For,” “Fall College Fair,” “Spring College Fair,”  “How to Apply for Dual Credit,” “Deadlines for AP Exams,” need I go on? We moms feel pressured to go to these info sessions until we’re parenting a third child and we either know this information or we just don’t care anymore. I’m telling all young mothers who may be reading this, “THERE IS NO SECRET HELD BY ANY COUNSELOR THAT YOU CAN’T FIND ON THE INTERNET!” Make it easy on yourselves and read about it online in your p.j.’s with glass of wine in hand.

By the time my last child was a senior, I’m sad to say that I had pretty much checked out. I deferred to my daughter on everything. Did she want me to help with planning of the Senior Party? No? Oh gosh, as much as I wanted to, I stepped back. Did she want me to accompany her on the school choir trip to New York City? No? Darn, I’ll stay home and watch t.v. five nights in a row, rather than traipse around the city with 35 ninth through twelfth graders boarding the subway and clambering through Times Square. When the choir director recently sent a note home stating that it is a “tradition” for senior parents to put together a collage of pictures of their graduates from birth to present on a poster, with captions, to be displayed at the end of year banquet, I came unglued. First, who prints pictures anymore? And, of those who do, who glues them to a poster? This was supposed to be a surprise for the seniors, but when my 12th grader asked why I was so upset, I yelled, “If you want pictures of yourself displayed on a poster at a banquet, you’ll have to do it yourself!” She replied, calmly, “Good. I like to do things like that.” And, she did. And, it was pretty cute! Another tip to young mothers, “DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED BY ‘TRADITIONS.’  BE BRAVE ENOUGH TO START A NEW ONE, AND JUST SAY NO.”

In my opinion, it’s time to go back to a simpler, gentler time when parents didn’t get involved in every aspect of their children’s lives. The thought never crossed my mind to ask my parents for help with a school project. My parents didn’t even attend my sister’s basketball games! Occasionally, they went to a football game to see my brother play, but I guarantee you it was not the highlight of their week. They didn’t host a pre-game luncheon for the team or gather with their friends for drinks before the game. They weren’t looking over my shoulder to see how a paper was progressing or what homework I was completing; they simply waited for my report card and then gave appropriate hugs and/or disappointed grimaces. Then, they went back to their adult conversations with each other, figuring we could manage the daily grind just fine without their constant assistance.  I recently heard Jerry Seinfeld talk about this on t.v., “Our parents didn’t even know our names,” he laughed. I truly believe that my parents’ stress levels were not influenced by my or my siblings’ performance in school or sports. Maybe I’m alone here, and am the product of neglect, but I certainly never felt like it. My parents loved me very much and I knew it. So, what happened to our generation? There’s a commercial airing currently that begins, “Suzy Fowler would like to do everything for her son.” Then, it shows Suzy shooting a basket for him, yelling at a bully, etc. It’s funny, yet not, because it’s so true. Maybe there’s a lesson here. Perhaps our lagging spirits toward the end of a school year, or especially at the end of a school career, is nature’s way of telling us that we’re too involved with our kids. Let’s take a step or two back, and remember how our parents handled us, with care but not with exaggerated concern.  I think we all turned out okay. Right?

Here’s a link to Jen Hatmaker’s hilarious blog:

A Typical Day

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Last wake-up call, “It’s 7:40 already!”

Last pep talk before last calculus test, 7:50

Last goodbye hug, 7:59

Last glimpse  of her SUV’s “Kony 2012” sticker  pulling out of the driveway, 8:01

Last silent prayer, “Please help her do well on her exam today,” 9:00

Last text, “I’m coming home for lunch btw,” 11:52

Last  flip of grilled cheese sandwich, 12:05

Last laugh at kitchen table watching last week’s “Modern Family,” or SNL episode on Netflix, 12:35

Last garage door opening, 3:42

Last “How was your day?” 3:45

Last “Can’t you remember anything that happened today?”  3:47

Last check to math tutor, 4:44

Last call from office, “Your son or daughter missed one or more classes today…” 5:15

Last bedroom door slam, “I’m studying. Call me for dinner.” 6:00

Last call from kitchen, “Come on. Dinner’s ready.” 7:20

Last laughs at dinner table, listening to tales of the school day, 7:45

Last help with homework, 8:00

Last “Goodnight, Don’t stay up too late.”  10:15

Last night before last day of high school

Graduation 7:30

New beginnings, June 7, 12:01 a.m.