Unpaid internships: Exploitation or valuable learning experience? - Vibewire

On the one hand, why should companies pay to teach you? But on the other, if you’re contributing time and effort to their company, why should you be expected to work for free?The debate rages on.

In a recent survey by B&T, 73% of participants said they had worked for free in the media, marketing, PR and advertising industries. And more than 40% of interns in those industries said they felt exploited. It seems many companies are using interns as free labour, as a cost-effective substitution of entry-level positions.

Anthony Greco, a 21-year-old Physics student, has completed both a paid and an unpaid internship, and found thepaid placement less satisfying. ‘I was expecting it to be a structured introduction to the job and to be given interesting and challenging work from the start,’ he says.

‘But I was a bit lost when I turned up as people didn’t seem very organised and I didn’t feel like I was put to use. I was told to read a history of the company and to walk around asking people if they wanted any help with anything. I did get given some work which was quite interesting, but I didn’t feel very busy or challenged.’

Interns Australia is a brand new organisation that is aiming to establish itself as Australia’s support and advocacy body for interns. ‘We believe in the value of internships as it is an important aspect of many in their shift from education to employment in their chosen fields,’ says Aditya Prasad, co-founder.

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