Bad News for Interns: Discriminated by Status

joker: never do it for free

Want to get a good job? Spend half a year working for nothing and then, probably, you will get it.

Unpaid internships have been the subject of complaint for many years, but recently they came under the spotlight of civil servants and rights activists like never before – and as it usually happens, they are likely to make things a whole lot worse.

Internships are an important part of starting a career in many profitable lines of work, like journalism, fashion, law, finance and others. As they are extremely competitive, there are a lot of young people willing to get an opportunity of a first real job in their desired spheres of activity, and as there are a lot of them, they are often ready to work for nothing in exchange of priceless experience and connections.

According to the report by the Satton Trust, an educational charity aimed at increasing the social mobility in the United Kingdom, right now unpaid internships constitute about 30% of total amount, and are limited to people from wealthy backgrounds – while you are working free of charge the rest of the world is moving on with the same speed as always, and you still have to pay for everything, from accommodation charges and food to Internet connection and clothing. In London these expenses will average to more than 900 pounds per month – not a sum easily scraped up by anybody.

Satton trust is adamant in their desire to make all employers pay at least minimum wages to all interns, in an effort to make internships more available to graduates from less favorable backgrounds, thus giving them an opportunity to start profitable careers in their chosen fields of expertise.

Feeling enthusiastic? Don’t be

According to the CBI and common sense, this initiative is very likely to have the exactly opposite results, effectively decreasing the opportunities for freshly graduated students to get valuable work experience.

Why? The reason is simple: those employers who hire unpaid interns right now do it because it is economically feasible for them. They either can’t afford to hire employees at full pay, or don’t get enough returns from doing so, or are willing to take a risk by saving some money on the intern’s wages but getting an inexperienced worker in return. Take the possibility to hire unpaid interns from them, and the laws of economics will immediately kick in: a large amount of these 30% internships will simply disappear, as those who provided them will lose economic motivation to do so.

This means that poorer graduates are unfortunately down on their luck either way. It is harder for them to afford an unpaid internship right now; but if unpaid internships are banned, there will be far less opportunities to get a start in a desired job than before. You thought that present situation was unfair, as unpaid internships are only available to rich people? Wait for lawmakers to make all internships less available for everyone.

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