Wall of Shame: Big Tree Capital Partners, LLC

Big Tree Capital Partners, LCC (“Big Tree”), unfortunately we have put you on our Wall of Shame. Someone from your organization posted an advertisement for an unpaid internship that we think is both illegal and unethical.

Click here to view the unpaid internship advertisement from Big Tree

The unpaid internship advertised is 4 months full-time for a privately held company and requires strong business skills – “MBA preferred.” Although we commend the employer for offering “mentorship” and “experience,” the law in Ontario requires them to also provide employees with minimum wage.

Big Tree, can you find the funds to pay your intern Ontario’s minimum wage ($11 per hour). If the intern works 40 hours per week for 4 months, it will only cost you $7,040.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at info@internassociation.ca

10 internship advertisements from Rugby Canada

Attention rugby-lovers! We have got Rugby Canada on our Wall of Shame after they posted advertisements for TEN internships in Langford, British Columbia and Richmond Hill, Ontario.

For all of these positions the compensation is listed as “performance based honorarium awarded at the end of internship term.” In other words, these are unpaid internships and nothing in the job description indicates that they are part of a co-op or other educational programs. If you familiar with our What’s the Law? page you will know that these internships are certainly illegal in British Columbia, and almost certainly illegal in Ontario.

Click here for the .PDF files of all 10 internships:

It is hard to know where to begin with these job descriptions. Let’s start with the fact that they are clearly JOB descriptions and include exactly the kinds of responsibilities that one would expect of a full-time staff member. Here are some examples:

  • “Sourcing out various vendors/suppliers”
  • “Manage online coaching & match official programs”
  • “Assist with creation and execution of a volunteer recruitment and training program”
  • “Event Administrative Support, including…track expenses against the event budget, and accounts payable and receivable for the event”
  • “Produce post event sponsor reports”
  • “Ensure timely preparation (pick and pack) and delivery of all Rugby Canada Online Store purchases”
  • “Maintain up to date ticket customer records in a central database for each event”
  • “Applicants should have a valid diver’s licence”

Shame on you Rugby Canada. All we ask is that you pay these interns at least the minimum wage in British Columbia and Ontario. An undefined honorarium payable at the end of the internship based on performance is not adequate compensation.

Telico offers 3 unpaid internships in Montreal

UPDATE MARCH 20, 2015: Telico has advised the Canadian Intern Association that, after posting these advertisements, Telico did not take on any unpaid interns and has been focusing on providing paid employment.

Telico is offering a three unpaid internships that we think are problematic: Marketing Manager Internship, Technical Support Engineer – Internship, Project Manager – InternshipTelico Networks Canada is a communications and technology company.

The advertised internships are each 4 months and entirely unpaid. These positions would involve resolving customer issues; performing research and developing campaigns; producing social media content; working with sales engineers and account managers; and promoting new and ongoing business opportunities. Nothing in these jobs descriptions suggests any form of training, mentoring, or learning benefits for the intern.

In Quebec the law regarding internships (“les stages”) is very clear. Internships may only be unpaid if (1) it is part of a formal educational program, for a non-profit organization, or has social or community purposes, or (2) the intern is participating in a programme of vocational training. All other trail periods and training at the employer’s request must be remunerated.

It would be against the law in Quebec for these internships to be unpaid. Based on the advertisements, none of the three internships fall within the exclusions that allow Telico to hire unpaid interns. The Canadian Intern Association urges Telico to make these paid positions or otherwise modify them to comply with Quebec employment laws.

If you have a internship advertisement that you think should be on our Wall of Shame or Wall of Fame, e-mail us at info@internassociation.ca.




Can Interns Really Gain Experience If They Are Working From Home?

Networking In Vancouver is currently advertising ‘Marketing” and “Editorial Producer” internships on their website. They’re looking for people who are “passionate about networking and business” and “looking for valuable experience to help [them] land a job in Vancouver”. Unfortunately the positions are, of course, unpaid. This is yet another case of companies in British Columbia targeting recent graduates with illegal internships.

The job description and requirements for the “Marketing Intern” are what you would expect and can be found in full here, but i’d like to point out some of the things about this ‘job’ posting that stuck out to me.

“As an MARKETER INTERN, all of your time will be spent working remotely”

Most defenders of unpaid internships are quick to highlight the value of working in an office and learning how a ‘real’ workplace operates. Unfortunately, Networking In Vancouver would prefer you work from home, so forget about gaining any ‘office experience’.

“THIS IS AN UNPAID INTERNSHIP that requires a passion for the online marketing, tireless hustle, attention to details and the ability to meet all deadlines. We require a minimum commitment of 15-20 hours per week. The duration of the internship is for 3 months (unpaid). Potential for an additional 3 month (paid) job extension that will be discussed with short-listed candidates.”

So first, if I’m not one of the lucky ‘short-listed candidates’ that worked the minimum 15-20 hours for 12 weeks a paid job will not be discussed with me and I will be sent on my way. Second, in the event I’ve worked hard enough to be one of these shot-listed candidates I’ll have the ‘potential’ for an additional 3 months of paid work.

Keep in mind, that doesn’t sound like a promotion, it sounds like I’ll be doing the same job as before but now i’ll be making money, which begs the question why wasn’t I being paid before? The first three months of this internship sound like a extended interview process, one that is unfair and unreasonable for people to put up with.

But surely I will be learning lots from this internship, there must be some value to spending 3 months unpaid at this company.

“Wondering about the benefits of working with Networking In Vancouver? Point blank – it is rare opportunity and unparalleled experience. This opportunity is a fully involved, learning by doing experience. You will be asked to take on critical tasks that directly contribute to the growth and success of Networking In Vancouver. You will also have the opportunity to attend some of the premier networking events in Vancouver as a representative of Networking In Vancouver.”

Besides the first two sentences which are essentially fluff, this unpaid internship will allow me to be ‘fully involved’ ‘attend networking events’ and ‘directly contribute to the growth and success of Networking In Vancouver.” Those do not sound like educational points, but rather things that employee’s do for companies – typically for pay. Apparently, my work will be directly contributing to the growth of the company, yet I will be gaining next to nothing in exchange.

Honestly, this does sound like an interesting internship and I’m sure someone looking for a career in online and social media would gain some value from it. However, if you take a look at the British Columbia Employment Standard Act you’ll find out quickly that this internship is in all respects illegal.The Marketing Intern at Networking In Vancouver would be doing work that without question entitles them to minimum wage in British Columbia.

In their defense, Networking In Vancouver did mention that if you’d like to use their internship for college credit they’d be happy to make that happen and that would indeed help make this internship legal under British Columbia employment law. However, unless you’re getting some college/university credit this internship is not worth your while and is a cheap trick to get some of their web and social media work done for free.

These internships are part of a growing trend that undervalues the skills of young people and particularly skills in social media. Prospective interns, focus on finding positions where you can gain actual experience in a working environment and make clear at the outset of your internship what your expectations are. What will you be learning, for how long and what is expected of you are important questions to ask. These will help to ensure that you’re not being taken advantage of.

The Canadian Intern Association is calling on Networking In Vancouver to comply with provincial law by either providing the minimum wage to their interns or creating educational internships for academic credit.

-Adam Seaborn

Adam Seaborn is Film & Media student at Queen’s University in Ontario and a member of the Canadian Intern Association executive. He is currently seeking employment following his graduation.


Re Fairmont’s Unpaid Internship Program

Yesterday the CBC wrote about the backlash Vancouver’s Fairmont Waterfront Hotel received on twitter after advertising an unpaid “bus person” internship position. Individuals from Fairmont and Vancouver Community College defended the internship. Read the full CBC article here. Also check out the Huffington Post article.

The Canadian Intern Association has been watching Fairmont’s internship program for months. Here are a few of the advertisements for unpaid positions we have come across for the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto:

  • Accounting Intern” – tasks include “check banquet charges for accuracy and report any discrepancies,” “send out bills within corporate timeframe requirements,” “insure accurate application of payment to accounts,” “attend monthly credit meetings” and “punctually respond (within 8 hours) to inquiries of guests and staff to comply with reasonable specifical requests”
  • Human Resources Intern” – tasks include “telephone inquiries including verification of employment, references, and general information,” “fulfill the secretarial functions of the department including filing, distribution of mail, maintaining stationary supplies, ensuring smooth paper flow through the department,” “letters of employment,”
  • Purchasing Intern” – tasks include “set-up and maintain daily order sheets for food stores and applicable departments,” “preparation and distribution of purchase orders,” and “investigate and resolve order discrepancies”

You can view the full advertisements for these positions at the bottom of this article. Unsurprisingly, Fairmont has taken a lot of their internship advertisements off job search websites so we could not get access to the others. If you come across any Fairmont internship advertisements (or hospitality internships in general) please send them to info@internassociation.ca.

It goes without saying that I find these internships to be problematic. Based on the advertisements it appears that these interns would be doing the same tasks as many staff members and are likely replacing paid employees. The advertisements do not have much to say about training or an educational component of the internship, beyond basic training that would be expected in a job of this type. Fairmont is clearly a company that is capable of paying interns and should be compensating its employees accordingly. These Fairmont internships are legal under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act since the interns are doing the internship as part of a college or university program.

I should also mention that Fairmont is not the only company offering unpaid internships in the hospitality industry. The Four Seasons also has an extensive internships program where the unpaid internships are also for academic credit.

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