Schooling the Intern

Diddy’s being sued…not that shocking.  Diddy’s being sued by an intern…for interning…that made me take a pause.

About a week ago, one of Bad Boy Entertainment’s former interns, Rashida Salaam, filed a lawsuit seeking back pay plus interest for the hours she worked during her internship.  She claims the company used her like a regular employee without paying her.  Her responsibilities included answering telephones, getting lunch and coffee, booking trips and making deliveries.  Uh…check, check, check check….been there, done that…along with anyone else that has wanted to work in the music industry…no wait, I also had to build a book case once.  I have done my fair share of interning in this industry and I’m pretty sure that’s what an intern does.  But this is not the point.  The point of the internship, which this poor girl has so obviously missed, is to get your foot in the door, make a ton of connections, meet a lot of fascinating people, learn as much as you can, and impress the shit out of everyone you come in contact with.

I have had three UNPAID internships in my time and they have all been some of the best job experiences I’ve ever had.  And yes, at each one I’ve had to perform some menial tasks, but I’ve also met managers, bands, DJs, visited radio stations and distribution centers, planned tours and promotional events, organized street teams, maintained websites and social media, and evaluated demos.  All this experience valuable, priceless and desperately sought after by most trying to work in the music industry.  I was definitely treated like a regular employee, but I liked that.  I wanted to be part of the team, to leave an impression, to be involved.  This lawsuit stems from a recent ruling in Manhattan’s Federal District court stating that all internship duties must be deemed ‘educational.’  I have interned at major labels and at small independents and the experience with the people I’ve worked for has always been the same – they were grateful for the help and wanting to pass on their knowledge.  Did they always have time for that?  Hell no.  But if you’re smart you can learn by observing and listening just as well as a formal sit down.  Of course, I don’t know what the environment is like at Bad Boy or how the interns are treated, but I find it hard to believe that the only thing they do there is run errands.

What I do know, is that in filing this lawsuit Ms. Salaam has sealed her fate in the music industry.  She has closed every door that interning could have opened for her.  Not just at Bad Boy, but all the other labels that have no doubt heard about this lawsuit.  Even if she wins her case, she has lost.  Anyone that is serious about a career in the industry knows it’s all about the connections you make.  There is a process.  You pay your dues before someone will pay you.  It’s the nature of the beast.  A step that can’t be bypassed.  If you have to fetch some coffee or build a book case in the process, then so be it.  It’s worth the trade.


L.A. -