I Vote Yes To Unpaid Internships
I have a friend. This friend recently did a 3 month graduate internship with a design agency. They weren't paid an hourly or monthly wage but their travel expenses between Kent and London were refunded by their employer. This friend did make a lot of coffee over the three month period but she was also given a detailed insight into how a design agency works and what she would need to do to be successful. She now has more experience on her CV than thousands of her peers, and she had a bit of fun along the way.
The constant furore over unpaid internships has been waging for years now, with the media and politicians alike wading in to slam big companies that exploit defenceless grads. Their reputation isn't helped by tragic stories of overworked employees falling ill through stress or worse. I'm sure, as with most debates, there have also been plenty of articles like this arguing that 'they ain't all that bad'.
So why write a blog about a subject that has been thrown around for so long? Well, recently as a business we were faced with a tricky decision - should we advertise unpaid internships?
Damn StraightWe don't want to deny a student/ graduate the chance to gain some essential experience. The 2014 High Fliers report points out that over half of Top 100 companies wouldn't employ graduates without any work experience, this number has been increasing year on year and will probably continue to do so.
I believe it should be left up to the individual to decide whether they want to apply for a role or not - all we need to provide is the facts.
Secondly, we don't want to deny a potential client their right to advertise an opportunity. Why should the (aforementioned) design agency be denied the opportunity to hire a young enthusiastic grad to help them out just because they are only paying expenses? They shouldn't. If every company offered expense only internships then wouldn't it be a better world? There would certainly be a lot more opportunities for the average grad to get some miles under their belt.
Hell NoThe argument against, for me, is a lot thinner. There are the horror stories of making coffee, working long hours and getting treated with minimal respect - basically verging on a human rights violation. I'm 99% sure after publishing this article, someone will hunt me down to tell me the hell that was their unpaid internship and I am in no way denying that those experiences exist.
There's the positive response that our competitors received when they came out banning anything unpaid from appearing on their site. There is no question that as a service provider we have a responsibility not to post jobs that we know are scams. Sometimes these can be hard to catch and could slip through the filter and this is the reason we allow our users to post their negative and positive experiences for everyone to see, either on our Forum or in an Interview Review .
Ultimately, it is down to you, our users, to decide whether you want to see these types of opportunities and make or you own decision or whether you'd prefer we blocked them to prevent any risk. Personally, I think getting work experience is a good thing and I think having the freedom to choose is a good thing. Feel free to drop a comment and tell me I'm wrong…..