Let Tom Ford Explain Why Not Getting Paid Wages Is Good for You

by evanmcmurry

Shane Kuhn, whoever he is, has a list of Seven Essential Books for Interns up at Simon & Schuster’s business books blog, which I guess interns can purchase with their pluck. His first recommendation, Tom Ford by Tom Ford, is on there because Tom Ford is a success story who rose all the way from the middle class. Price of the book: $85, or as interns call it, one week’s worth of food.

What wisdom is worth so much ramen?

He also believes EVERYONE should be an intern and shares my views on the topic: “I think this is the problem today, people come out of school and think they should immediately be a star. In this world of course you can make a sex video and you can become a star. But I think everyone should be an intern – you should sweep floors, you should pick up pins. You should run errands because you learn so much.” 

Most businesses that don’t pay their interns* at least do so with a whiff of regret, a “We’d pay you, but [the market, this industry, we’re a startup, etc].” These are just excuses, but they’re excuses that preserve the idea that a person’s time is worth money, and that not paying them that money is a situation that, in a better world, would be remedied.

Ford’s explanation is the first time I’ve heard someone say that not getting paid is in and of itself a reward. It takes some serious chutzpah for someone whose suits retail for $7,000 to tell you that not getting paid wages is good for you.

* This is ignoring for now that making internships no-pay all but guarantees that only privileged people can get them, thereby structurally mandating that they’re made up of people whom Ford says need them to puncture their privilege.