Reading Ross Perlin’s Comment is Free article, ‘The new elitism of internships’, I was saddened to see that the next step in internships is people paying to do them.
At one time internships were an American oddity and the only time I expected to do anything similar was the two weeks in school when we were sent out to do work experience (where we sat around looking bewildered as people tried to find things for us to do.)
Then I left my corner of North Wales and moved to London in 2003 and looked into postitions within the media. As I scanned the vacancies I found there there to be some internship positions available – all without pay. I did a few weeks here and there with some big name media organisations, but it never led to a job, it became something to drop into conversation when I was working in whichever temping assignment I had been sent to.
Today, internship positions are rife and you can do one in all sorts of positions from journalism to administration (just take a look on Gumtree to see what I’m talking about.) Now it seems that people are paying to do internships and as Ross Perlin states internsips are fast becoming the realm of the priveledged.
I have nothing against internships which last a few weeks, but I have met people who have done internships for months at a time and are essentially are unpaid workers. What they don’t realise is that they are filling a position which at one time would have been a paid one. The current econmic situation has led to job cuts followed by an increase in the number of companies looking for interns, it seems companies can’t afford to hire new staff and are using interns to fill full-time jobs.
It does help when you apply for a job if you have ‘experience’, but people don’t need to get it by working for free (and certainly not by paying for it). Internships should carry at the very least the apprentice rate minimum wage or at least cover expenses. There’s a fine line between experience and exploitation.