How Unpaid Internships Exploit College Students?

In the last few years, internships have become a necessary step for graduates as they aim at building a well-rounded CV. Considering the massive insecurity regarding jobs and increasing competition, securing a job is no longer a matter of qualifications and marks. Experience, becomes a requirement at an age where it is difficult to gain it. Hence, internships are unquestionably, a popular solution.

With websites such as internshala and letsintern letting students form profiles and find internships, we see a positive picture of opportunities and learning. However, while a lot of these internships offer some menial stipends, there is also a swarm of unpaid internships. These offer “perks” such as gift vouchers, goodies and the so very valuable ‘Letter of Recommendation.’

Firstly, there is no guarantee that these benefits hold any value. Secondly, although most unpaid internships allow flexible working hours, the quantity and quality of work that is demanded requires a huge amount of dedication. This takes a toll on studies and the work is no less than that in a part-time position. Thirdly, being unsystematic organizations, these firms demand work from the interns which is often not defined in the job roles.

Most firms hire only a few people for the major roles and perform only managerial tasks, while imposing most of the actual work on interns. While these positions are justified on the basis of giving experience and exposure, that is not the case. Most of the work is repetitive and does not involve working directly with superior in the field. Event management and content creation are the two fields which offer a bulk of unpaid internships and in both these fields, the tasks are menial. Especially in the case of content creation, the focus lies on quantity of work produced over quality and improvement of skills.

When there are so many students willing to work for free, it becomes a major problem for the others who might not be seeking internships simply for the purpose of gaining experience. With university students who come from all walks of life, there is a dire need for jobs that actually pay, to get through daily expenses in the metropolitan life. For those who do not wish to offer their skills, time and hard work for free, the situation is extremely dependant and unfair.

The solution to this problem involves both firms and students. Companies which offer positions for interns without paying them need to be called out for their exploitation and pettiness as these are often earning huge profits. Students who are willingly joining unpaid internships need to take a stand against them so as to benefit both themselves, and others. For every student looking for a paid internship, there are multiple who are willing to do the work for free. Unless this situation changes, there will continue to be employers who get a bulk of work done for free. Further, after a point of time, there will be no real value attached to this work as it does not focus on building a student with professional skills. The youth is the future and it is pertinent to build a generation with real skills and real benefits for their contribution.

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