Upon reaching Jerusalem, Jesus Christ entered a temple and began expelling all the merchants. As a result, the teachers of the law begin looking for a way to kill him. In their evil intent, they ask Jesus whether it is right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar. Jesus, in turn, demands to see the coin used for paying the tax. “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” he asks. “Caesar’s,” they reply. “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s,” say Jesus. Amazed, they left him. (Matthew 22:15-22)


Commerce and spirituality are two different realms; making profit and imparting doctrine two different pursuits. But in today’s society, the line has been blurred.

Temples of enlightenment, universities pass on knowledge from one generation to the next. In their campus bubble, students embark on spiritual journeys, discovering their passions.

The doctrines imparted, however, are out of touch with those that run the economy: the companies. Academic curricula lag months, if not years, behind current business models. By the time a contemporary case study is incorporated into a syllabus, a new entrepreneurial scenario has already come along. And so, university graduates worldwide remain unprepared for today’s job market.

Consequently, the company is forced to enter the temple; to teach. From here arises the position of the intern, a student receiving practical training, a pre-employee. Yet where exactly the intern fits in to current labor legislation is ambiguous and controversial.

From Fox Searchlight to Condé Nast Publications to Hearst Corporation and now Gawker, in the eyes of justice, each case presents slightly different circumstances. Interns displaced regular employees. No overtime compensation. The internship didn’t provide educational value…

But who is looking at the situation from the perspective of the company? Upon accepting a candidate for an internship, the first thing a business has to do is train him or her. Money, time, knowledge, skills, facilities, equipment, social costs – the investment on behalf of the company is significant. It can take several months before the intern acquires the necessary skills, another before he or she can put them to work. In all that time, what is the benefit for the company?

At universities, students pay for the theoretical knowledge they receive. If educational institutions were asked to offer practical instruction, they would charge for it. And yet companies are expected to provide such hands-on training not only for free, but to pay interns for receiving it. Shouldn’t the intern be paying the company for all the practical training?  

The question is not absurd. In fact, precisely in the media industry, there are companies that have already established their own academies. National Geographic offers photography workshops in far-flung destinations, The Guardian holds Masterclasses led by Guardian professionals. The Spanish newspaper El País is one of the few to explicitly pair learning with working, offering a two-year masters program in conjunction with the Autonomous University of Madrid. Tuition is priced at 13,300 Euros and includes a 12-month paid internship at any of the outlets run by the PRISA media group.

Interns aspiring to get a foot in the door will have to be prepared to make an investment, be it in time, money or both. To compete in today’s job market requires practical instruction just as much, or even more than, theoretical coursework.

The university has its value, as does the company. Yet as long as universities don’t prepare students for the job market, companies are in their right to be compensated for collaborating in the learning process.

Let’s not forget whose image is on the coins. “Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar.”