When it comes to internships there are strong arguments on both sides. This post will only delve into one side of the debate, so fans of balance, look away.
I’m not alone in disagreeing with unpaid graduate internships. I believe them to be reserved for university students who are looking to get a taste of their chosen industry and build up their CV while they’re financially supported elsewhere.
When it comes to graduates, the horror stories of internships seem to have worsened over recent years. Take this story, for example, of an illustrator’s first internship out of university.
If only it ended there. Graduates, beware – a new level has been reached. A friend recently told me story about one of her professional heroes who asked her to intern for an internship. We’ll call her The Editor.
A well-known, respected figure in a competitive industry and with an enviable CV, The Editor took a leap into entrepreneurship and needed an intern to help with a new start-up business.
She wanted to intern several people over the space of two months before deciding on one lucky mug to carry on with internship for four months with no solid job prospects at the end. She offered only travel and lunch expenses – her clever plan was to end up with the smartest of the bunch and all of the profit.
Realistically, anyone with a backbone will have told her to jog on, and of the remaining candidates it’s fair to say the more capable ones will have found a job elsewhere. The Editor will inevitably be left with some spineless, mildly talented sod who can’t get any better offer than to work for free for months on end. In other words, not exactly the perfect candidate to help you start a new business venture.
Stories like this prove (to me at least) that unpaid graduate internships need to cease existing. Play the game unfairly and you’ll attract the wrong people, set a bad example, and release people back into the wild having perpetuated the myth that free labour is acceptable. If you can’t pay someone to help, do it yourself.