Law student complaints kill Day of Pay campaign

A fundraiser asking University of Toronto law students with paid summer jobs to donate a day of their wages to those in unpaid roles has been cancelled, following backlash over whether the initiative targeted the right pocketbooks.

In an email circulated to the school on Wednesday, the Students’ Law Society acknowledged that “recent controversy” over its #OneDayofPay campaign had “made it impossible for the Pledge Drive to fulfill its purpose of building community or to raise the required funds to achieve its goals.”

The initiative, led by the Students’ Law Society with faculty support, originally aimed to raise money for aspiring lawyers in unpaid positions with social-justice oriented organizations. But as reported by the Star last week, the fundraiser prompted some students to ask why young people should subsidize salaries rightfully paid by employers.

“They’re sort of suggesting that the people who should fix the problem of unpaid work are students rather than employers that are getting people to work for free and getting the benefit of that work,” said Ella Henry, a third-year law student at the school.

The idea was also panned by U of T Law’s student newspaper, Ultravires, which published a sharply worded editorial decrying the Pledge Drive in the context of mounting tuition fees and student debt.

“Under the new regime there is but one solution to every possible problem. Salaries too low? Raise tuition. Articling alternative law practice program underfunded? Bill the students. Students’ employment rights being violated? Ask their classmates to make up the difference,” the paper’s editor-in-chief David Gruber wrote.

Walmart’s Bottomless Greed: Dodging Billions in Taxes, Scheming to Avoid Billions More

There’s another reason Walmart is known as one of America’s greediest corporations: it won’t pay its fair share of taxes.

Walmart Stores is America’s top-earning corporation. In 2013, its revenues were $473 billion, yet it only declared $16 billion in profits. While it has been reported that Americans subsidize Walmart because its low-wage employees receive an estimated $6.2 billion annually in Food Stamps, Medicaid and other anti-poverty benefits, what’s not widely known is that Walmart has parked $21.4 billion in untaxed profits offshore and is currently lobbying to cut U.S. corporate tax rates.

“Walmart’s offshore profits have doubled in recent years at the same time that its offshore investments flattened, suggesting that the company is piling up cash overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes on the earnings,” a new report by Americans for Tax Fairness found. “Walmart is working to reduce corporate tax rates and eliminate all taxation of foreign profits.”

“You’re starting to see Walmart playing games like other companies,” said Frank Clemente, Americans for Tax Fairness executive director and author of How Walmart is Dodging Billions in Taxes and Scheming to Avoid Billions More. “They’re engaging in a tax dodge.”

Walmart employees 74 lobbyists in Washington, has spent $32 million on tax-related lobbying in the past five years and underwrites other tax-cut lobbying by the Capital’s three largest tax-cut groups, AFT found, which are the RATE (Reforming America’s Taxes Equitably) Coalition, Alliance for Competitive Taxation, and the Business Rountable.

“There’s a big campaign going on here in Washington, D.C., to reform the corporate tax system,” Clemente said. “It’s a big lobbying effort being waged by big corporations to try to reduce their income tax rate at the same they’re lobbying for corporate tax loopholes.”

cheap-labour advocate Bank of Canada Governor wants unemployed youth to work for free

OTTAWA — Advocates for young workers took Stephen Poloz to task Tuesday after the Bank of Canada governor recommended that jobless university graduates beef up their resumes by working for free.

Speaking to a House of Commons committee, Poloz suggested young Canadians and others struggling to find work should acquire more experience through unpaid internships or volunteering until the country’s hobbled job market picks up. He predicted it would improve over the next two years.

Poloz told the committee that when a young person asks for advice on getting through the tough times, he says, “‘Volunteer to do something which is at least somewhere related to your expertise so that it’s clear that you are gaining some learning experience during that period.”‘

Read more:



femicunts use cheap-labour to incite hate against men

62p AN HOUR: What women sleeping 16 to a room get paid to make Ed and Harriet’s £45 ‘This Is What A Feminist Looks Like’ T-shirts

  • Feminist T-shirts worn by politicians are made in ‘sweatshop’ conditions
  • Migrant women in Mauritius are making the £45 tops for 62p an hour
  • They say: ‘We don’t feel like feminists. We don’t feel equal. We feel trapped’
  • Machinists sleep 16 to a room and earn less than average wage on island
  • T-shirt is sold in Whistles in aid of activism group The Fawcett Society 
  • Deputy chief executive of the charity Dr Neitzert said they had originally been assured the garments would be produced ethically in the UK
  • When they received samples they noted they had been made in Mauritius
  • She added that if evidence emerges Whistles will have to withdraw range
  • Harriet Harman wore shirt on front bench of the Commons during PMQs

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Femicunt runned Gawker is latest target of unpaid intern class action

Unpaid interns for the website have won a round in court in their attempt to bring a class-action suit under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

A federal judge has ruled that lawyers bringing the suit can send notices to unpaid interns throughout the company who could potentially join the lawsuit.

The judge did not decide on the interns’ claims, but did rule they had sufficiently common characteristics to be certified as a class.

The court ruled the interns performed work similar to that of paid employees, contributed content to Gawker’s publications, moderated sections of its websites and received primarily on-the-job training. They had to follow Gawker’s general policies, were supervised in the same way as employees and received communications frommanagement in the same way employees did. They also used the same internal communications systems employees did, were expected to work independently and received no special training or instruction.

In other words, the company treated the interns just like employees in all ways except one—they weren’t paid.



Help wanted: Doug Ford campaign advertises ‘unpaid internship’ positions

Doug Ford’s Toronto mayoral campaign is hiring unpaid interns to work at the candidate’s campaign office answering emails, conducting research, and taking part in “many areas of campaign execution,” according to postings aimed at Toronto-area university students.

At least two listings were posted on Toronto universities’ job banks in late September seeking staffers who would work 120 hours at the Etobicoke office handling a variety of tasks without remuneration, potentially in violation of Ontario labour laws.

“Applicants must be available to work a minimum of 15-20 hours per week at the campaign office,” reads a listing on the York University Career Centre website.

The announcement, posted Sept. 23, includes a list of required office skills including: proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, typing skills, research skills, and familiarity with online publishing and social media platforms.

“You will be involved with many areas of campaign execution and be exposed to the inner workings of how its [sic] all put together, gaining valuable experience and know how,” the posting promises.

A U of T job posting seeking three unpaid interns listed the positions as “political campaign organizer.”


Help wanted: Doug Ford campaign advertises ‘unpaid internship’ positions

Cheapskate Casa Morada Under Fire After Offering Six Month Unpaid Internships Totalling Nearly 5,500 Hours Of Work

An interior design business has come under fire for offering six unpaid “voluntary internships” totalling nearly 5,500 hours of work and equating to more than £34,000 in wages.

The Edinburgh-based Casa Morada has been reported for investigation to HMRC after the six month-long placements were spotted by eagle-eyed student journalists at The Student.

The company posted an advertisement on job searching website Gumtree in late August, offering six unpaid “voluntary work experience internships” on a 35-hour week for half a year.

Although the company has since taken the adverts down on Gumtree, HuffPost UK was able to locate the original post.


Unpaid internships at magazines new target of Ontario labour ministry

Two of Canada’s highest profile magazines have been told by the Ontario Ministry of Labour to immediately end their internship programs after complaints about unfair labour practices.

The Walrus and Toronto Life magazines will shut down their programs on Friday, after an inspector from the ministry informed the publications that their programs, which brought in aspiring journalists, designers, and others for temporary unpaid stints, contravened the Employment Standards Act.

‘It’s just exploitation’: Backlash against unpaid internships growing


OTTAWA — Nicholas Smith is a 22-year-old Torontonian, working on his second unpaid internship after graduating from the University of Toronto last year with an ethics degree.

Working without pay for months — and sometimes years — after graduating triumphantly wasn’t exactly what Smith and his friends had in mind when they toiled away along the path to what they believed was a bright future.

“I am working with people who’ve done their masters degrees, and definitely there’s an emotional toll in having to work for free,” said Smith, whose current unpaid internship is at a Toronto-based think-tank as a foreign policy analyst.

End Unpaid Internships, Urges Social Mobility Tsar Alan Milburn

The UK government’s social mobility tsar has called on professional employers to axe unpaid internships in order to ensure fair access to Britain’s top jobs.

Labour MP Alan Milburn argued, as part of an agenda to tackle the plight of the “forgotten middle class”, that the growth in professional employment is not creating a new “social mobility dividend” for the UK.

Milburn, writing for New Labour pressure group Progress, claimed that Britain’s top jobs are dominated by a “social elite” and unpaid internships go to young people on the basis of “who, not what, you know” as well as disadvantaging people from backgrounds who cannot afford to work for free.

“Nearly one-third of MPs, more than half of top journalists, and 70% of high court judges went to independent schools, though only 7% of the population do so,” Milburn stressed. “This is social engineering on a grand scale.”

The influential MP also called for the national minimum wage, which currently stands at £6.31 ($10.15, €7.52) per hour for over 21s, to be increased.

“The working poor are the forgotten people of Britain,” Milburn said. “They need a new deal. The minimum wage is worth £1,000 less in real terms today than it did in 2008.”

Milburn also suggested, among other things, that colleges should receive performance based pay rather than recruitment number, and that the “best teachers” who work in the “worst schools” across the country should have a pay increase.

“It is in Britain’s DNA that everyone should have a fair chance in life. Yet too often demography is destiny. Over decades we have become a wealthier society but we have struggled to become a fairer one,” he said.

Milburn’s comments come just a day after Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband delivered a keynote speech in London which set out a wide-ranging platform and was tipped as the official start of his party’s election campaign.



Unpaid interns: MP Andrew Cash to table private member’s bill targeting illegal internships

Toronto MP Andrew Cash will introduce a private member’s bill in the House of Commons on Monday that addresses the issue of precarious workers, including interns.

The proposed National Urban Worker Strategy would, if passed, require federal and provincial ministers of labour to sit down and work out how to fill in gaps in legislation that leave unpaid workers unprotected, said Cash, NDP MP for Davenport.

In Ontario, the Occupational Health and Safety Act does not cover workers who do not earn a paycheque, which could affect as many as 300,000 interns in the province.

“Our laws are stuck in the 20th century and we need to update our laws and social policies to reflect the reality of work today,” Cash said.

“Young people are looking at a labour market where instead of finding an entry-level position you have to work for free. We need to strengthen the laws that are already on the books.”

Internships are mostly under provincial jurisdiction, unless in a federally regulated sector like telecommunications. But Cash wants provincial and federal ministers to strike a joint task force that would increase public awareness and monitoring of internships across the country, as well as enforcement of existing laws.

Under the Ontario Employment Standards Act, companies can “hire” someone to work without wages if the internship is through a high school, college or university program, or meets six strict criteria, including a provision the employer derives little or no benefit.

That means if an unpaid internship is not for course credit or is more like actual work than education and training, it’s likely illegal.

Cash wants officials to crack down on illegal work. “This is the role of government. You’ve got to be out there letting people know what the rules are and what workers should expect in a workplace,” Cash said.

An internal briefing note obtained by the Star this week showed the labour ministry is aware many unpaid internships in Ontario are illegal.

The bill also proposes some expansion of the Employment Insurance and Canada Pension Plan regimes, as well as addressing issues like temp agencies.

Slavery returns: Toronto college students clean tubs for nothing


When a Vancouver luxury hotel placed an ad seeking unpaid interns to bus tables last month, there was public outcry.

But using unpaid interns in the hospitality industry is widespread in the GTA as well. Some spend a semester changing pot pourri and scrubbing floors. While many interns gained meaningful experience, others found themselves doing menial tasks for nothing.

Samantha May, now 21, found herself cleaning rooms, including toilets, at an airport hotel for three months in 2011. She was required to clean 16 rooms a day, just like paid housekeeping staff.

“There were days I didn’t want to get up in the morning, mostly because I wasn’t getting paid. It’s like, ‘I don’t have to do this.’ ”



Unpaid interns not protected from sexual harassment


A New York federal district court ruled last week that Lihuan Wang, an intern at a TV broadcaster named Phoenix Satellite Television U.S., could not bring a sexual harassment claim under New York human rights laws because she was not paid, and therefore not considered an employee.

Wang was a graduate student at Syracuse University in 2009 when she interned in the New York bureau of Phoenix Satellite Television, the American subsidiary of Hong Kong-based media conglomerate Phoenix Media Group.

In a lawsuit, she said the station’s Washington D.C. bureau chief Zhengzhu Liu sexually harassed her after luring her to his hotel room on the pretext that he wanted to talk about her job performance and the possibility of hiring her full time.

When the two were alone, Wang alleged that Liu threw his arms around the then 22-year-old intern, tried to kiss her and “squeezed her buttocks with his left hand.” After she refused to let him go any further and left the hotel, she said Liu no longer expressed interest in permanently hiring her.

New York Judge Kevin Castel ruled that Wang can’t assert these claims, because as an unpaid intern, she didn’t have the status of an employee.

“It is uncontested that Wang received no remuneration for her services,” Castel wrote. “New York City’s Human Rights Law’s protection of employees does not extend to unpaid interns.”


Slavery and Trafficking: How Northwestern Shuttles Journalism Students into Unpaid Internships

Kara Brandeisky, ProPublica 269 Views 12:26 PM ET

Northwestern University’s journalism school boasts of its prowess in preparing students for prestigious careers—but it also serves as a pipeline for unpaid internships.

At Medill, students pay $15,040 in tuition for the privilege of working full-time jobs as unpaid interns. During their mandatory quarter in Journalism Residency, as it is known, students work full time at news organizations such as CNN Documentaries, Self and WGN Chicago. But instead of paying interns, employers pay Medill $1,250 for every student placed. In turn, students receive academic credit and a small stipend from the university for relocation expenses, ranging from $600 to $1,200. The most generous stipend amounts to just $2.72 an hour—far below the federal minimum wage.

censorship: BBC Breakfast rejects guest over her views on unpaid internships

The founder of a website that provides careers advice to graduates claims she was dropped from a BBC TV programme because she refused to abide by a legal request about what she should and should not say.

Tanya de Grunwald, who runs the Graduate Fog site, was booked to appear on BBC Breakfast last Friday to talk about unpaid internships.

On Thursday evening, some half an hour after catching the Manchester-bound train from London at the BBC’s expense, she was called by a researcher questioning what she was prepared to say.

This was followed up by an email from a producer, who wrote:

“We cannot infer that… any employer is breaking the law by not paying interns – this has been absolutely specified by the BBC duty lawyer.

We are asking you to comment on the wider point about whether internships should routinely be paid regardless of current law.”

De Grunwald responded by arguing that many employers are breaking the law by not paying interns, and that it was important viewers knew that.

The producer, says de Grunwald, insisted that she had been advised by the BBC’s duty lawyer that this “claim” was only an “opinion”.

So de Grunwald attempted to explain the minimum wage law in some detail. The unconvinced producer then asked her if she would say something positive during her interview on the show, such as how unpaid internships can be a good thing because they add experience to a young person’s CV.

De Grunwald refused and, after the wrangle – when her train was just 10 minutes away from Manchester – the producer left a voicemail saying she was “terribly sorry” but the “editorial decision from on high” was that “we won’t be able to proceed with the interview as planned tomorrow morning”.

So de Grunwald ended up spending a night at Salford Media City Holiday Inn (double room fee: £109). The train ticket cost a further £79.

“On the up-side,” she told me, “I enjoyed an excellent cooked breakfast the next day.”

She said: “The BBC’s coverage of the issue of unpaid internships is routinely appalling – they minimise and trivialise every development that happens, it’s infuriating.”

Update: The BBC emailed a statement by a spokesperson at 8pm: “On some occasions it is decided, for editorial reasons, to stand down a guest.

“On this occasion the decision was made close the time of broadcast and for this we have apologised to the guest. The decision was made to interview MP Hazel Blears who’s currently campaigning in parliament on this issue.

“The item also featured a case study of a former intern. We then challenged Hazel Blears on her stance and explored some of the issues around internships, including payment.”

MUN student union fights against unpaid internships


Memorial University’s students’ union has started a campaign to fight back against unpaid student internships.

MUNSU launched “Work is Work” — an attempt to put money into the pockets of unpaid interns — during a public meeting at the university on Thursday night.

Many of the university’s programs involve internships that require students to work regular hours for no pay.

Executive director of MUNSU external affairs, Candace Simms, said changes need to be made to the current system.

“Students in engineering and business pay for one course, which is $255 and they get paid for the work they are doing,” Simms said.

“Students in programs like education, nursing and medicine pay up to five times that amount — $1,200 — and they don’t get paid for the work that they do while on their placements.”

Simms said the issue goes beyond a student’s ability to pay their bills. For many, the difference between paid or unpaid internships is an issue of student rights.

“Work is work, so no matter what students are doing they’re still contributing to the work force. Often times they’re working 35-40 hours a week, they’re not able to get part-time work to off set the cost of participating in these placements.”

Fourth-year MUN student Kate Walsh, who starts her internship next year, said she is one of the lucky ones who does get paid.

“I think it creates competition in our program,” said Walsh.

“Therefore, people work harder for your job, if you’re getting paid, right?”

Ideally, the students’ union would like one cost for all students on work terms, but the bigger battle will be getting a pay cheque for those student interns who now work for free.

Vivienne Westwood under fire for hiring unpaid interns



The eccentric designer’s London office is recruiting a range of “volunteer” interns to assist staff across departments, from accounting and human resources to graphic design and jewellery making. Some of the schemes last as long as three months, for approximately five days a week, between 10am and 6pm – mirroring typical working hours for many paid employees.

The placements, which ask applicants to send in a CV and covering letter, demand that interns undertake everyday office tasks, using computer programmes like Word and Excel, with some stating the need to cover “reception duties” when required.

The adverts, which emerged after Dame Vivienne said “poor people” should buy fewer clothes, will fuel the debate over whether unpaid interns who are being asked to do a job are being “exploited”.

Tanya de Grunwald, founder of careers consultancy Graduate Fog, said: “Dame Vivienne saying ‘poor people’ should ‘buy less’ sounded lofty to most of us – but to fashion interns her comments were downright offensive. Giving lifestyle tips to people on low incomes while advertising five unpaid internships is disgusting.”

The law makes it clear that if people are given set tasks and hours, they are by definition ‘workers’ and must be paid. Earlier this week David Cameron urged unpaid interns to report their employers to authorities if they felt they were being exploited.

The Internship cancer still spreading!

is it time for an anti-internship rebellion?




A former office employee for an Ontario member of the provincial parliament says that her job was replaced with an unpaid internship and is filing a complaint with the Ministry of Labour.

Samantha Bokma, a student at Laurentian University, worked as a constituency assistant in Barrie for local Progressive Conservative MPP Rod Jackson. The job involved “general office upkeep, answering phones, emails,” Bokma told CBC News.

Her contract was set to expire on Aug. 30, but Bokma said she expected her paid work to lead to a part-time job in the fall.

Instead, on Aug. 20 Bokma was told that her contract wouldn’t be extended. The next day, she turned in her letter of resignation, explaining that she needed the extra week to secure a new job elsewhere before her classes started.

A week later, a posting for an unpaid internship at Jackson’s office was distributed on Laurentian University’s campus. Bokma said the responsibilities described in the posting — including reception duties, office administration, responding to constituents and organizing community outreach events — were tasks that she was responsible for as a paid employee.

“This position provided me with much-needed funds to pay for my tuition fees at Laurentian University and it is concerning that this paid, entry-level position has now been replaced by an unpaid internship,” Bokma writes in her complaint.

The Ministry of Labour won’t comment on Bokma’s case, but says that it is investigating her complaint.

Overtime demands and steep tuition costs are placing a burden on many of Canada’s unpaid student interns, who have little recourse to fix their predicament in an educational system that gives employers and schools most of the power.

Attention turned to the internship programs last week, as CBC’s GO Public reported on the sudden death of a 22-year-old Alberta practicum student, Andy Ferguson, who crashed while driving home after being made to work long hours in November 2011.

Alisha Denomme eagerly embarked on a three-week academic, unpaid internship at a strategic branding company in Hamilton, Ont., while studying graphic design at Georgian College in Barrie, Ont. But the experience quickly soured as Denomme struggled to pay tuition, finance her internship and work the long hours.

Still, Denomme was thrilled when the owners decided to hire her part-time after she completed her internship, compensating her slightly above minimum wage. That excitement quickly turned to dejection when she realized they expected her to put in overtime hours for free.

“I was still getting the same amount of work as when I would come in for the whole week,” she says, explaining that she would be given a week’s worth of work to do, despite only being paid for two days.

However, Denomme never worked outside the paid hours, despite feeling pressure to complete the extra work.

Intern’s death after overnight shift sparks outcry

slavery has returned!



The sudden death of a 22-year-old Alberta practicum student, who crashed while driving home after being made to work long hours, has his loved ones pushing for laws to protect unpaid interns from exploitation.

“He was taken advantage of,” said his brother Matt Ferguson, from St. Albert, Alta. “If this hadn’t happened the way it happened, it might be easier to deal with.”


Andy Ferguson’s car crossed the centre line and hit a gravel truck head-on at 6 a.m. in November 2011. He was halfway through his hour-long commute after working a morning shift and then all night.

“Andy wouldn’t want this to happen to somebody else.”

Records show the highway was clear and the weather was good. The young student had no alcohol or drugs in his system and was not on his phone when he crashed.

His family is convinced he didn’t make it home because he’d put in 16 hours in a 24-hour period — with very little rest in between shifts — and was too exhausted to drive safely.

“We believe he fell asleep while he was driving,” said Ferguson.

21 year old intern worked to death


A young student who died after working ‘crazy hours’ as an intern at a top investment bank was days from being offered a full-time job at the company, it was claimed today.

German student Moritz Erhardt collapsed in the shower of his student halls in east London just days before completing a gruelling internship at Bank of America Merrill Lynch International investment bank division.

Friends of the 21-year-old, who had recently completed a study abroad programme at the University of Michigan, claimed he had been forced to work through the night eight times in a two week period in an effort to secure long term work with the firm.

A source told The Sunday Times he was about to be offered a £45,000 analyst job at the bank starting after he graduated from university next year.

The source said: ‘He was one of the best interns. They hadn’t made him the offer yet because they didn’t get that far but it was going to happen.’

Bank of America Merrill Lynch said on Friday that it will be reviewing working conditions of its employees, particularly those of junior staffers, after the death of Erhardt.

His emails and swipe card will be analysed to discover what times he entered the company’s building near St Paul’s Cathedral in the City.

It is believed the student regularly left the office at 5am only to return to the flat to have a shower and change his clothes before returning to work.

CCTV evidence shows him returning to his flat just after 5am on the day he died.

When he did not show up for work, another intern who lived in the same flat, called the building managers who found Erhardt’s body in the shower at about 8.30pm on August 15.

It is believed he may have had an epileptic fit possible caused from exhaustion.

In an online portfolio Mr Erhadt told prospective employers that his upbringing taught him to always be driven to be good at everything.

He wrote: ‘I have grown up in family that expected me, in whatever respect, to excel in life.

‘Therefore I have become highly competitive and ambitious nature from early on.

‘Already during my times in elementary school I began playing soccer as well as tennis, I engaged in track and field athletics, and I started ski racing.

‘Sometimes I had a tendency to be over ambitious, which resulted in severe injuries.

‘With respect to my performance in school, I was striving for excellence and trying to be the best all the time.’

Reflecting on his intensive approach to his education he added: ‘Over the last year, I have learned that complacency implies stagnancy.’

The profile also shows that prior to his seven week internship at Merrill Lynch, he had also completed placements at KPMG Consulting, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank’s corporate finance division.

Mr Erhadt had studied business administration as an exchange student at the University of Michigan
before attending WHU Otto Beisheim School of Managment in Vallendar, Germany.

A representative for the Otto Beissheim School of Management business college where Mr
Ergardt studied and from where he was due to graduate next year, called him ‘a wonderful person.’

Head of PR Peter Augstin said: ‘We are all deeply shocked. He was a wonderful person and a
dedicated student. He will be sadly missed. We are still trying to come to terms with his death.’

Paid interns at the bank normally earn £45,000 ($70,550) a year pro rata – around £2,700 ($4,200)
a month.

Many banks are known to encourage their young students to work late into the night and in the past
there have been claims those keen to impress have put in long hours with very little sleep.

Mr Erhardt had been living in the Claredale House student accommodation flats in Bethnal Green, east London. The apartments are rented out to hundreds of interns during the summer months.

A friend from one of Mr Erhardt’s classes said that he was such a workaholic that he would turn in
assignments early because he ‘wanted to be the best.’

A statement from BAML said: ‘We are deeply shocked and saddened by the news of Moritz Erhardt’s

‘He was popular amongst his peers and was a highly diligent intern at our company with a promising

‘Our first thoughts are with his family and we send our condolences to them at this difficult time.’