July 31, 2018
Estimated Read Time: 5 Minutes
Unpaid internships are becoming less popular as the job market continues to rise and more companies are in need of filling entry level positions. While internships are good because the employee is gaining experience, unpaid internships are somewhat taking advantage of the individual. In a way they are utilizing them for free labor. Many people see the worth of internships and the benefits they bring but, “should we still hire interns for no pay?”
My answer to that question is “no.” I firmly believe, coming from experience in an unpaid internship, that it is not right and should not exist. Regardless of how many hours you are working or even what the work itself is, it almost seems unlawful to not pay an intern for their work and here is why.
Money is definitely something everyone needs to survive. You need money to buy food, water, housing, and the vital essentials. When a college student is working and paying for rent or food all on their own, and deprived of money during that internship, it can get really challenging for them. Personally, when I had an unpaid internship, I had to get a second job so that I could pay off my bills. I had to go from job to job in the same day just so I could make a little cash for the summer.
Another consideration is college. Unpaid internships typically fall into the hands of students because they initially want to gain experience prior to their job search after they graduate. Well, college is expensive, really expensive, and if the student is working for free during the summer or their off months of college, then how do they expect to pay for college?
Going to school is a job in itself. Students don’t get paid to go to school but when they are working outside of class, and not getting paid for it, they might as well be swimming in their own debt. Doesn’t sound fun, does it?
The cost of living is so high that unpaid internships just seem morally wrong to even consider. So why would you still do it?
So the student is trying to get an internship because they want to get hired, right? Essentially the student wants a full time job in the end. Well that is why most people are doing it. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the hiring rate for students who complete an unpaid internship is 37% while the hiring rate for students with paid internships is 63%. If these numbers don’t shock you even a little bit, then allow me to dive in further.
According to the Employment Relations Act, internships are not discretely defined, rather unpaid interns are merely volunteers and not protected by employee rights aside from the health and safety laws.
So essentially what this all means is that unpaid internships can be looked at as simply volunteering at an organization, and while most volunteers appear to be volunteering once or twice a week, an intern could be there every day.
On top of that, the unpaid internship is usually not work that is beneficial and vital to the company as a whole. The intern, “volunteer,” should not be contributing anything work related that a full-time employee is capable of doing.
So all-in-all, the student is going to “work” for a company or organization, spend multiple days of the week there, not get paid and not be protected by employee rights, and not even do work that can qualify them to get a good job. Rather, the student is doing work that really has nothing to do with the company and then putting that “experience” down on their resume. Yep, sounds like exploitation to me.
Unpaid internships are going out of style. They are depriving students of money and if the student does not take the internship because they cannot afford unpaid work, they could be depriving the student of an opportunity that could land them a job. Unpaid internships also bring about a much larger issue of diversity within the workplace. Of course we want the best of the best people working for you but we also want a diverse workplace where it isn’t just the select few that were able to get the internship because they could afford unpaid work.
Unpaid internships bring about a variety of issues that would just be best if we avoided it all together. If you have ever been a student, you know the stress of class, homework and tests, while trying to figure out what you are good at in life so that one day you can hopefully make a career out of it. On top of that, there are expenses and worrying about whether or not you have enough money to pay for this. With unpaid internships, it doesn’t seem right to make them work for no pay and still have all this stress on their back. It just seems cruel. We want our young people to succeed and to eventually be able to be the directors and the managers of this world as we won’t be here forever. So pay them the right amount, let them show you that they deserve this, and give them work that can guide them to be successful.
For more input on the topic, check out Robert Sanders’ latest podcast on whether unpaid internships should still be a thing. We would also love to know what you think so please leave a comment below to tell us your thoughts on this particular topic. To learn more, or if you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more great blogs and content please subscribe to our blogs Here.