Unpaid Internships and the Way They Are Used

Is it a little arrogant for me to say that you give a lot to a company when you give them your name? 

I keep reading articles and hearing peoples opinions of unpaid internships since I started my placement year. Mainly because people like to comment on my situation & also because with the current difficulty for young people & graduates to find employment there are lot more articles being written about it. 

One of the articles I read was by Victoria Pynchon from Forbes.com called “Note to Gen-Y – You Do Not Have To Work For Free” I really liked this article because there is nothing more true than her second point: As Interns we make money for our employers. 

Continue reading the rest of my views by clicking read more

I have been told countless times since I started my placement that I am investing in my future. And yes this is partially true – however I have been taking on unpaid internships and ‘investing’ in my future for the last 2 years. Isn’t it time for someone to start investing in me? 

My placement is listed as paid. I earn £100 per week. £20 a day. £2.50 per hour. 
It covers my £12 daily commute & my lunch.

Now I had the option to take a paid placement that would give me £16,000 for the whole 12 months. I had a choice and I spoke about turning down this Job Offer in April of this year. 

Because I made the choice and I picked working with a great team of people over earning money I have accepted what I earn. 

I am living at home & have my phone bill paid and have minimal outgoing costs. I also have a second job & worked hard before this placement and have money in my bank account.  

However I do object to companies paying such a small amount to interns. If you are someone with no experience then unpaid internships are sometimes the only option & there is nothing wrong with them if you are treated well & respected. In fact I do believe taking on an unpaid internship if just for a week to 2 months is very worthwhile as you learn a lot about a company and either how great they are but you may also learn how someone should not treat their interns. 

However I disagree to companies that offer Graduate Interships even though a majority of people who apply have a fair amount of experience that means they would be able to do a full time job. Once I graduate I shall have completed 3 Internships & many unpaid jobs in the events industry – I personally feel I will have enough experience to work in a  full time job. 

My biggest questions is why companies do not offer to pay  the NMW & give full time jobs to interns who can showcase they have relevant and up to date experience? Why instead of taking on students for 3 months at a time don’t companies take on graduates for a year with a good start out salary? Aren’t we meant to be investing in the new generation of professionals? 

Mireille Silcoff article on the National Post.com  raises some good questions about the culture of Internships. “You work for free so you can later get a good job. There are fewer good jobs because of all the people working for free.”

And I especially like Tanya De Grunwalds, from Graduate Fog, quote from the Guardians article about how Tony Blair was using unpaid interns“Too many employers have convinced themselves that experience, plus a few quid for a sandwich and the bus fare, is an acceptable form of payment” (On November 2012 Blair changed his policy to pay interns the NMW if working 3 months +)

Intern Aware is a fantastic websites that brings to the forefront the reasons why unpaid internships are wrong. 

I strongly believe that Internships & Work experience are vital for any student trying to find a job. I have also spoken about how unpaid internships are easier to find and that they can be a good way to get that first piece of experience. I also feel volunteering is so worthwhile and important to events students. 

But I only agree with them for short periods of time & if the person who is doing them wants to work for that company/organisation and is able and willing to do it unpaid. 

Internships are that step on the career ladder. They allow for people to being to gain actual experience in a certain industry. But employers need to realise that Interns are not free workers – they are not their to replace a full time position. They are there to learn the ropes and lend a hand. You cannot employ an intern for a short period of time instead of taking on a full time paid employee.

I want to know what you think of Internships? Let me know about your experience either by leaving a comment, Tweeting me @Imdamnstudent or sending me an email eventmanagementstudent@gmail.com 

Some great articles about unpaid internships that you would be stupid not to read:
1. ‘Two Cent Thoughts: Unpaid Internships‘ by Erin Depew @ Pixel Perfect 
2. ‘Are Unpaid Internships Necessary Stepping Stones or Fre Labor?‘ Read the comments of this article @ The Everygirl  
3. ‘Advise to unpaid interns: you’re being exploited and won’t get a job‘ by Rachel Levy @ Quartz  

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  • Well thank you, i try my best to write well thought out & well written posts – hence why sometimes the posts are not that regular! It is actually just the free theme that I customised to suit my taste. Thank you so much for the kind words!