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Interns' Job Prospects Constrained by Noncompete Agreements

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Increasingly interns are being asked to sign noncompete, nondisclosure, and forced arbitration agreements, restrictions once reserved for higher-ranking employees.

Advocates say legal covenants for interns help safeguard trade secrets. But critics argue the agreements hamper young people's job opportunities and mobility even before they get a foot on the career ladder.

Noncompete agreements are unenforceable in a number of states, and regulators have clamped down on their use among low-skilled workers. While no data exists on how many interns are affected by noncompete agreements, around one in five workers in the labor force overall are bound by such pacts.

"The idea of noncompetes for interns is ludicrous," says Terri Gerstein, a Harvard University academic who previously served in the New York attorney general's office. "Internships are supposed to be for educational and professional development, and are about expanding—not limiting—job opportunities." She said it is unlikely intern noncompete agreements would be upheld in court in most states.

From The Wall Street Journal
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