Internships – the new slave labour

Internships seem to be all the rage these days. Being a media student myself, I couldn’t help but notice the growing trend for students to be so willing to give their time away for free. In fact it has come to the point where internships are almost a commodity – the more you have done, the higher up you think are on the employability scale. Yet something tells me it is quite the contrary.

What we do not realise, is that we are only breeding a corporate culture of unpaid entry-level work, and the more willing we are to work for free, the lower the chances we are of actually being hired – I mean truthfully, why on earth would somebody pay you, if you offered to do the work for nothing? And why on earth would somebody pay you, when someone else was willing to do the work for nothing?

I recently stumbled across an article written by Wendy Harmer which rants on about this internship culture, and the fact that parents are the one paying for it, while the big orgs are the ones profiting.


And I completely agree with her! It has become a vicious cycle, where big-scale corporations seek out ‘interns’ in order to avoid paying for a full timer, and with more and more students feeling obliged to take on unpaid internships, these organisations eventually start getting away with not having to pay for work. To me that sounds a hell of a lot like slave labor.

In saying this though – I would like to point out the hypocrisy of that article – in the fact that the Hoopla itself (Harmers own publication) takes on interns. So my question to Harmer is – how much do you pay your interns, if at all?

I recently picked up an internship myself – I was curious to see why they were all the rage, especially with so many of my classmates bragging that they have done two, and three, and four internships (some even more). My conclusions – they are not worth the time invested. I have yet to learn anything new, that I did not learn to do at uni, or that I couldn’t have picked up quickly while being trained during my first week working on the job.

It’s increasingly coming to my attention, that taking up internships is not about gaining experience, as much as it is about having a well-rounded, filled up CV – though to be honest, if I was an employer, and saw that you were so readily willing to work for free, I’d probably just offer you another internship.

So I have one last message for students: stop working for nothing. Slave labour is not something to be proud of, or show off on your resume – in fact it diminishes your self worth. Give them reason to pay you, not to give you another three-month, temporary, unpaid job.


2 thoughts on “Internships – the new slave labour

  1. I think the idea of internships started off great but quickly turned sour as there are no proper guidelines. What is even more hilarious is that not only are students not paid to complete internships, we’re paying to complete that course as well. So after completing the internship course I’ve gained some sort of practical experience of working in the real world, completed at least 100 hours unpaid hours and will owe the government $733 for taking the course.

  2. Pingback: Slave labour in fruit picking in Florida, USA | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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