Hijack The Streets: Would you ever pay for an internship?

August 14, 2014
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As if there wasn't already enough pressure students, youth unemployment has recently hit a high of 14.1 per cent with 15-24-year olds being hardest hit.  With three in twenty young people struggling to find work, it's easy to see how measures like paying for an internship could be tempting for job-seekers - especially if doing so may stave off unemployment. However, positions where interns have to pay could be considered unfair, potentially creating a situation where companies are able to exploit students for money, and where the students with greater wealth, rather than greater skills, are the ones getting the jobs. Hijacked headed out to Monash University to suss out students' thoughts.Mary Harmer, 22, Bachelor of Arts at Monash University 

HTS: Would you ever pay for an internship?

No, because there’s enough opportunities to actually get work with people - I feel like for me personally it’s not a necessity to.

So there’s enough avenues in arts and theatre to get experience?

Yeah, to get stuff that you don’t pay for, and you don’t get paid for, there’s a million things that you can do voluntarily.Karan Khushu, 19, Bachelor of Business at Monash University

HTS: Would you ever pay for an internship?

Probably yes, depending on how much it was.

What would be your cap?

I’ve got no idea! But I guess I’d pay for it because it’s good experience and you can put it on your resume, it’d be a good learning experience I’d assume. Grece Aoau, 18, International Student studying a Bachelor of Accounting at Monash University 

HTS: Would you ever pay for an internship?

Yes, I think if I had a good opportunity to get into the company that I want then maybe I would pay it.

So it would have to be somewhere where you had a good chance of getting a job out of it?

Yeah, because I know a lot of internships you do have to pay it, they aren’t free. I wouldn’t be happy to do it, but I think I would have no choice. Especially for the international students, if we could get a free internship then that would be good. Nick Mersel, 19, Bachelor of Business at Monash University 

HTS: Would you ever pay for an internship?

Yes, because of the opportunities that come after it. I guess you can’t buy experience, but in a sense an internship is that. My brother did one and he said it’s the best thing he’s ever done.     

In what cases do you think it would be justified to charge someone?

If the intern is a liability then I think it’s justified. You wouldn’t want to be just sitting around doing paperwork though.KB, 18, Bachelor of Business at Monash University  

HTS: Would you ever pay for an internship?

Yes, I would, for the people you meet. If you spend three months in a company or however long it is, and you can interact with the board of directors and meet the entire sphere of the company, you’ve got all those contacts. I’ve got a friend who did an internship at PWC and he got a job straight out of it. That one was free though.

It does depends what company. I think if you pay for it you deserve to be given many roles and experience many different parts of the company, so then it’s broadening your education. But if you’re secluded to one area within the company then it’s not really worth your time. You may as well be doing work experience in year ten.

So you’d do a lot of research first?

 Yeah. I think anywhere where there’s a risk involved to the company then it’s worthwhile for the intern to have to pay as compensation - if [the intern] is a risk to the company’s reputation or are in management or have other responsibilities.Sarah Gross, 24, Bachelor of Visual Communications

HJCKD: Would you ever pay for an internship?

No, I don’t think I would, mainly because I think there’s already enough companies out there exploiting students, and I feel like if we were to open that up to the market then a lot of companies are going to do [internships] for the money and not train the students. There are a lot of companies out there who are willing to do unpaid internships and minimum wage internships; you just have to look for them.

Have you found any internships that you’ve done worthwhile?

I’ve been ridiculously fortunate. I’ve only done one that has been unpaid and that was definitely worthwhile because I got to meet amazing people, they treated me really well, I got free food! They really looked after me. And I’ve done other internships that have been paid.

Is that typical for the field of design?

I think there’s a mixture of both paid and unpaid. If you go out and seek them there are plenty of paid internships – and if they’re not advertised there’s no reason you can’t approach someone and say ‘hi I’d like to work for you,’ or ‘hi I’d like to get some work experience.’


Frances Vinall

Frances Vinall is a freelance culture and lifestyle journalist and a Monash University student. She spends most of her free time watching Parks And Recreation and eating cheese. Frances blogs at francesvinall and tweets at @fvinall.