With the growing demand for work experience among candidates in the process of finding jobs, students find themselves getting lured towards unpaid internships. Read on for an analysis of the system of unpaid internships and its relevance.
The transition from school to college is a significant one. While school was marked with scoring well to get admitted to the desired course and university, college makes one job-ready. College prepares an individual for the work-culture which awaits them after it. With the jobs being scanty, and candidates in abundance, there is a rapidly increasing race among students to enhance their skills and curriculum vitae (CV) to stand out among the rest of their peers. With ever-increasing competition, students with prior work experience are preferred over the rest of the lot. Thus, students freshly out of college find themselves in a fix. Internships, in scenarios like these, come to their rescue. Several small and big companies hire students as interns on a weekly or monthly basis where they are asked to work either from home or directly in the office.
The past few years have seen students actively seeking internships in their field of study to gain firsthand industry experience, and well, add that extra line in their CVs. Internships come with the promise of certificates, and the much revered letters of recommendation (LOR). Apart from strengthening one’s CV, they also help students in building connections in the industry. While several companies hire paid interns, a host of other companies offer nothing more than a certificate and “experience”. Despite that, unpaid internships see a huge number of applications with students desperately yearning to get in. When you are working as a full-time employee, the company needs you as much as you need it. But the paradigm shifts in the case of interns. Interns find themselves needing the company a lot more than it needs them. Interns can be easily replaced by anyone from among hundreds of others seeking that position, who are willing to work for free. Thus, the demand for a stipend, however meager, in exchange for the value the intern is adding to the company, is always silenced. “Psychology students often pay for an internship at a hospital,” apprised Shivani Dadhwal from Kamala Nehru College, representing the sorry state of students seeking experience through internships.
Are these unpaid internships worth it? The answer cannot be in a binary of yes or no. Internships do not matter as much as where you intern does. Before diving into this world of internships — which is darker than it appears to be —students need to carefully assess the value of the work, and the certificate that they will get after its completion. There is no dearth of dubious companies which treat interns in exploitative ways, offering nothing in return, except for a certificate, which more often than not, holds no value if the company in question is not renowned. On the contrary, companies having a stronghold in the field of your interest can allow you an opportunity to connect with some of the renowned names in the industry, all the while making your CV shine. Working with a reputed firm, even if it is unpaid might prove beneficial while you are seeking jobs, but the quality of the work matters too. Several interns complain about having clerical jobs like photocopying, making coffee, among others. Such experiences, however mighty the workplace may be, will end up adding no value to your targeted skillset.
At the same time, unpaid internships at startups with excellent work-culture, where you are trained within proximity of learned seniors, might end up opening doors of success for you with the amount of experience you can get working there. Lucrative offers of internships need to be carefully scrutinised before students decide to invest their talent, time, and energy into working for a company. It is important to realize that your talent, however raw, holds value in the market. Consequently, it should be invested in with much thought and research. Platforms like Glassdoor and Linkedin might help students in learning from the experiences of other interns, and making a smart choice. Demand for the proper value of their work and strict labor laws for interns should be made to save young students from exploitation in the name of unpaid internships.
Feature Image Credits: Medium