UNPAID INTERNSHIPS: ARE THEY A GOOD THING OR A FORM OF SLAVERY?

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The transition from secure student life to the pandemonium of the adult working world can be daunting, as the competition for jobs is greater than ever. The feared concept of being refused a job due to lack of experience has resulted in many graduates seeking the opportunity to undertake an unpaid internship. Research shows that 52% of employers will not even offer candidates an interview, if they have no previous experience. 

An unpaid internship is allowed for typically 1 to 3 months before it is deemed illegal. however GOV.uk has stated, “If an intern is classed as a worker, then they’re normally due the National Minimum Wage”. Meaning; if you are working fixed hours and actively benefitting a business – you have the right to be paid. Many interns are unknowingly working illegally as victims of modern day slavery.

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On the plus side, unpaid internships can give you a chance to gain knowledge and skills in your chosen industry as well as potentially bagging a permanent at he end of it.

As students we are frustrated that businesses undermine Uni graduates that have put in 3 years of hard graft into their degrees; not forgetting that they are also neck deep in student debts that need to be repaid. To be taken advantage of is totally unjust as well as illegal.

Our advice, is to find out your employment status, know your rights, and ask; if you don’t ask, you won’t get; in the dog-eat-dog world of work. Also research alternative options like working for charity organisations or voluntary work which also can give you experience, on your terms and available hours.

Words: Sanna Hamaseid

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