Friday, February 3, 2012

Former Intern Sues Harper's Bazaar; Why some people shouldn't work in Fashion

Harper's Bazaar: The magazine when millions of girls would kill to work.

I'm not sure if anyone's heard, but news broke yesterday that 28-year-old Xuedan Wang plans to sue Hearst publication Harper's Bazaar. She allegedly interned in the fashion closet from August to December last year to gain some experience in the industry, but is extremely upset because she was -- wait for it -- not paid. She also had to work 'long hours' doing 'boring things' like sample trafficking.

I don't even know where to start on this. Let's just talk about the fact that this girl is twenty eight years old. Now, not to discriminate on anyone based on their age, but at 28 years old, and with a college degree, you should be further along in your career than this. I've interned with others as old as 25, but at least they had a good attitude.

Also, if she has already graduated from college, how did she even get an internship at any Hearst publication to begin with? I'm currently interning at Elle (owned by Hearst), and school credit is absolutely required for all interns. Its how they are compensated for their work, and if that's not okay with you or you're 'above it', don't get an unpaid internship. Period.

Even if she wasn't comfortable with an unpaid internship, why did she stay at Harper's for five months? I'm pretty sure they told her in her interview that the position was unpaid. And, if she did decide to stick with the unpaid gig, why not consider getting a job for when she's not in the office?

As far as the 'long hours', she claimed that she worked 40-50 hours a week. Um, that's only 8-10 hours a day, AKA an average work day. There are some days when I've been at Elle for thirteen hours, but as an intern, you stay for as long as you are needed. End of story.

She also complained that she was forced to do 'boring' and 'unimportant' tasks such as sample trafficking. As a closet intern, the largest part of your day should be sample trafficking, and it is extremely important, as this is how the stylists have options, the showrooms get their samples back, and the closet does not get overflowed. And, if you see being surrounded by the couture that graces the pages of Harper's Bazaar as 'boring', I'm curious as to why you want to work in fashion at all. I'm also pretty confused as to what this girl actually thought she'd be doing as a closet intern.

Just for comparison, here's what my daily life is like: I'm a full-time student, taking 21 credits Mondays, Fridays, and online. I intern at Elle Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays for approximately ten hours a day. And, I work at a Clinique counter on Monday and Friday nights, Saturdays, and Sundays. Altogether, that's approximately eighty hours a week that I'm working. But, have you ever seen me complaining? I may have to cut back on the blogging at times, but I am beyond grateful for all of my experience.

Overall, if the only thing Xuedan Wang can think of doing after five months of interning at one of the world's most successful publications is suing them, maybe she isn't cut out to work in this industry after all. I mean, if she actually lands a job in the industry after all of this bad press, does she honestly think it'll be any easier?


  1. This is the unfortunate side of the fashion industry that did not used to exist, I do feel many companies misuse their interns to avoid the money of hiring an employee. I'm hoping what comes from this, is maybe an improved change in the intern process.

    In the defense of older interns, I was one myself, and it's hard. You are very fortunate to be in an area at your age where you can intern. I am not from this area, could not afford to go to school out of state and therefore could not intern. But to get in this industry you need your foot in the door. AND additionally even the brightest of job seekers are not being hired right now bc this economy is so bad.

    Now, I DO think she is silly for filing a lawsuit with Harper's as this will deter anyone in fashion from ever hiring her, but it does raise an interesting issue in our industry and I'm interested to follow what happens. I was 24 when I interened at a horrible fashion PR place, got treated awful, got no pay, and no credit (obv), but I sucked it up and got out of there with the first contact I could make into a freelance job. You have to bust your butt to survive...not hire a lawyer to whine about it for you ;/

  2. you are kidding me! i would kill to get that job...i love reading your blog you know why?because you write so honestly about your experience..i can only dream of being there..and internship is supposed to be for gaining experience and we all know that!she is crazy!

  3. Hahaha! Poor baby... I had to put up with more fashion crap, crap from models and public relations crap worse than she can imagine. Interesting post. XOXO

  4. This girl needs a dose of reality!! Wow, I can't believe her! She does have some nerve and now even if she wants to work and get hired in the industry she has probably black balled herself. Goodness!!

    Jayme @ Her Late Night Cravings

  5. Haha! I can't even take someone like her seriously! That's just too bad...

  6. I know right.. I think to pursuit success career we should always work hard and it takes a long way to go up there. Everybody should work very hard :)

  7. so great post!! I agrre with cliff:)
    please visit me in free time:)

  8. i like the way you have looked at all points and given a fair judgement. unpaid internships are what well call a golden ticket opportunity (willy wonka) but doesn't mean its EVER going to be easy or paid for that matter! :-)


  9. Chanced upon your blog and enjoy reading it!


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