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Are unpaid internships only for the rich?

22 October 2015, 11:28Tea Addict

I cannot agree more with the notion that it is appalling that someone can be expected to work fulltime (don’t forget the overtime) for free.

It is pure exploitation and how a company can think it is tolerable makes you wonder what other rules they think are acceptable.

I never knew about internships growing up and when I did hear about them, I was already settled in a job. Years later I’d think about it and wonder how my career path could have turned out differently.

As an avid writer who loves anything to do with words, I was told early on that to get into journalism was extremely difficult. I didn’t think further than what I was told (a big mistake I admit).

I was 17 years old and about to matriculate – the thought of studying for years and not being able to use what I’d learnt was terrifying.  

So I did the ‘safe’ thing and did an uninspiring course which loads of colleges promised would guarantee a job in any office (for the record they lied). Experience is something that you need in almost EVERY industry and getting it is difficult.

But that is the sad irony of the situation. Who can afford to work for nothing while getting experience which may (but may not) result in a job?

After reading your article (and feeling my blood pressure rise), I realised that even if I did know about internships like the one advertised it wouldn’t have worked out for me.

I’m not a Trust Fund beneficiary, I don’t have rich parents who would have supported me and didn’t have my own car. Does anyone else wonder how a person is expected to work for zero income but has to have a car!?

I’m not saying that an inexperienced person seeking to gain skills and work experience can expect to earn loads from day one but nobody should exploit the fact that there are loads of desperate people out there. The sort of internship (as your newsletter said) would suit someone of privilege.

Someone who ironically won’t be that affected by working for free while getting sought after experience. It isn’t right and it certainly isn’t fair. My first few jobs didn’t pay a lot but I could afford to give my parents board, pay for my transport and buy a new shirt or skirt for work every now and again (often on sale).

I wasn’t rolling in it or about to win any fashion awards but the point is I was able to survive which is something I couldn’t do if I was working for nothing. And there are millions others who can say the same thing.   

Which brings me to this question. Is having a dream career something only the rich can afford? Does job satisfaction and doing what you love depend on your bank balance at the start of your working career?

- Woman24


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