06/24/2013 05:02 EDT | Updated 08/24/2013 05:12 EDT

Go Public inbox: Unpaid interns speak out

After unpaid intern Jainna Patel went public about Bell Mobility’s Professional Management Program, we heard several similar stories from you.

Date: June 24, 2013 5:02 a.m. PT

Good morning,

I feel terrible for Jainna. I went through the same thing 10 years ago. I dealt with Henry from the beginning and I should have known better. In the "interview," he straight up said I would working with information that was so confidential that if I ever told anybody what I did, I'd be "sued until the day I die."

What did I do? Called LCBOs across the province for wine recommendations. Went on daily walks through the Eaton Centre with Mr. Smithers (Henry was Mr. Burns), listening to him tell me how I needed to have a better family, have a better life, better hobbies... I spent 12 unpaid hours one Sunday working on Henry's Harvard MBA application.

Unlike Jainna, I DID have a paid contract. As I recall, I made $28,000 a year. I think I was 24 at the time? I was told each and every day how lucky I was to have such an amazing job and that most people my age were making peanuts and that I had a huge opportunity at a great career — etc. etc. It was all B.S. All of it. I see now it was all an attempt to keep me under his thumb. I lasted eight months into the one-year contract before I left.

I think I should have realized something was wrong in my first month when I asked for time off as my father was in a coma. I was given a laptop to use to practice learning pivot tables on Microsoft Excel. After a week, I'd made little progress, so they asked for the laptop back. I took a total of two weeks off (my father survived). I returned to a meeting with Mr. Smithers telling me how fortunate I was to have that much time off because execs only get three days off for relatives — maximum — and that's only for extreme situations like the death of a member of an immediate family.

What I'm saying is the environment that I was in was far more manipulative than the labour-laws angle in your story. Can I prove any of this? Absolutely not. Henry is too smart for that. He brings in kids, pounds them with their B.S. I have nothing to show for it, no proof, no reference, nothing... just a burning resentment for everything Ma, Bell stands for (I even switched to Rogers... hahahaha).

Anyways, I've reached out to Jainna to offer my support. I'm letting you know this because she's not the only one. Keep up the good work.

Date: June 24, 2013 6:29 a.m. PT

Hello, I just read your article about the Bell PMP internship program. I was also in the program and I have MANY stories about that slave ship, including but not limited to how the manager of the program Henry literally asked me to wash his dishes that he left around the office, and he would choose muscular male interns to help with manual labour that needed to be done in the office, I commuted from Whitby to Mississauga without any compensation, and was often pressured to work late despite my expected full time hours and 2 hours of commuting each way. Could you please put me in contact with the other interns from the story or do another story about him?

Date: June 24, 2013 at 11:59 a.m. PT

Hello, I worked as an intern with Rogers Communications as an intern for their magazine LOULOU. I too have had the same experiences as the Bell case and would like to get in touch about filing a complaint.