DEAR HARRIETTE: Is working for free ethical? I struggle with this topic with both family and friends who have their own views about it. But the overall consensus would be that those days are over, and whatever skills a person has should be compensated in some way. I do have some people who say the opposite and believe that working for free is crucial in proving one's self and gaining necessary knowledge. What are your thoughts about both arguments? -- Working for Free
DEAR WORKING FOR FREE: This is a hot-button topic that has no easy answer. I certainly believe that people deserve to be paid for their service. I can also tell you from firsthand experience that the reason I got my first job in New York City as a magazine editor is because I had created two unpaid internships for myself when I was in Washington, D.C., where I was able to get my work published and prove to a potential employer that I could do the job that I really wanted.
Because of my own experience, I have always had interns. Typically, they start off unpaid, but often get high school or college credit. Others I have given a chance when no one else would. Many go on to be hired at my company. I have helped to launch dozens of careers in this way. I’m just one example.
On the flip side, if a company can afford to mentor people and pay them from the start, I believe they should do it. Compensation comes in many forms -- from dollars to experience to connections to academic credit.