Unpaid Internships and companies exploiting free interns.

“But our companies’ policy is that we don’t pay interns”. This is what most of the students hear when they apply for internship, but even after hearing this they agree to the terms and conditions of the company and opt for the opportunity. After the economic downturn job market has shrunk so much that now fresh graduates don’t get jobs if they don’t have internship experience. Every summers students search for internships to get experience to compete with in this competitive world. Companies take advantage of student vulnerability who are keen to gain experience in order to have a prosperous career.  Thus voluntary internships are offered to ambitious and talented student.

Now the internship that they offer is free and the work that they give is not worth working from 9 to 5. To me it is an exploitation of skill full and passionate students by companies who are well aware of the fact that experience is for most job criteria and without prior experience degree is worth nothing but a piece of paper. The student is so desperate to get the certificate of internship from company, he/she won’t say anything even if they ask him/her to do work that the lower wage worker does, for e.g. photocopy, serving tea, and maintaining registry etc. This thing is practiced not just in Pakistan but around the globe. Companies claim that they are paying students through experience and exposure that they are giving to the interns which is more worthy than university education. But how is lower wage worker’s work like photocopy is worthy than education that university gives? In that case students should leave studying and start working as interns in different companies for 6 weeks each. There are different class of students, some are rich but some are poor. The rich can afford daily transport and other everyday expenditure that occur during the internship time period. But poor who are already in need of money can’t afford to spend extra money on internship and get nothing in return. I met one poor intern who left his internship because he was not being paid for it and he had to spend extra money on expenses that occurred during that internship.

Companies say that they don’t have enough budgets to pay interns. Companies earning millions can’t pay R.s 4000 to their interns? Students work hard to learn something from internships but they are not even learning when they are not paid because they are taken for granted. If students learn something they won’t complain about their stipend.

In my opinion interns should be given some project or companies can start a CSR project in summer and hire interns for that project. The project should be lead by a Project manager, who will have subordinate interns working under him. The manager of the project can have an intern manager selecting from the interns working under him. This will not just increase the morale of interns but they will also learn and benefit from the internship. Interns would have some sense of achievement by executing a successful project. At the end of their internship firms can award them with certificate of best intern and gifts at the closing ceremony of the project, in which they should invite people of, hire post in the firm. In this way the students will get motivated and have some positive image of the firm they intern with.

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