LIM College Implements Mandatory Paid Internship Policy to Promote Equity and Increase Opportunities in Fashion Industry

In a move aimed at making the college experience more supportive, LIM College is phasing in a new policy over the next three years that will require all students to be “compensated for internships and co-operative (co-op) work experiences at minimum wage or above,” the college said in a statement, adding that the policy applies “to in-person, remote, and hybrid internships and co-op experiences.”

The phased-in policy takes effect this fall.

Ron Marshall, LIM College president, said in a statement that internships and co-op experiences “are vital components of a comprehensive education, offering students real-world experiences, the ability to develop professional skills, and the opportunity to build valuable networks within their chosen fields.”

However, Marshall said unpaid internships “can create significant barriers for many students, particularly those from underrepresented, first-generation or low-income backgrounds who can be locked out of coveted pre-career experiences if they lack the financial resources to accommodate unpaid experiences.”

Paid versus unpaid internships have been a hot topic in fashion and in fashion media for the past 20 years. Internships are often required for graduation. The U.S. Department of Labor regulates the programs under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Marshall said with this new policy, the college is “creating a more equitable and supportive environment for our students that also recognizes the valuable contributions they make. For employers, this policy will lead to larger, more diverse talent pipelines, fostering inclusivity and driving innovation within their organizations. It is the right thing to do and will ultimately lead to a stronger fashion industry.”

Scott Carnz, provost of LIM College, said in a statement the college is committed to working with industry businesses to prepare for the transition to paid internships and co-op experiences. Carnz said the college “is a leader in preparing students with the highest quality education and career readiness. Since 1939, we have been a pioneer in hands-on learning experiences and career development, enabling students to excel in the global marketplace and realize their dream careers.”

Carnz said the college has strong, enduring relationships with hundreds of industry partners, “some of which have their own company policies that mandate compensation for interns and co-op students. For others, we are engaging collaboratively through information sessions and other means to help them move to a paid internship model, working to strike a balance between continuing to have a large number of internships available to our students and making sure they are fairly compensated.”

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