Solution to Unpaid Internship

At the present time, every job requires a relevant amount of experience. This makes the job search process much more rigorous for a fresher as there is no experience until someone hires you. This gives rise to the demand for ‘Internship’ among the students. Every student looks for an internship in order to gain some prior work experience and make his resume more impressive. However, the internships aren’t paid anymore. Especially, in a country like India where the supply is much more than the demand, the unpaid internship has become the part of every graduate’s resume.

In this article, you are going to learn about the reasons behind the unpaid internship, whether the unpaid internship is worth or worthless? and the solution to the unpaid internship.

Unpaid Internship

The term ‘Unpaid Internship’ can be defined as the work position of the students in order to gain some work experience without being paid. This cruel term is used by the corporate world to get there work done from a free workforce in the name of ‘Experience’. Afterall, an internship has become an additional requirement of a resume for every graduate nowadays. Below are the three different reasons behind unpaid internship being so common nowadays.

Why is internship unpaid nowadays?

1. Supply >> Demand

This is one of the biggest reasons behind the unpaid internship. With over 1.5 million engineering graduates passing out every year in India, the supply has exceeded the demand by a long margin. The companies are able to hire interns without offering them any stipend as it makes no sense for the company to pay their interns if someone is always there to do it for free. Not only technical sector but banking and media sector is also exploited due to this.

2. An internship is to Learn not to Earn

Many corporates argue that an internship is to learn not to earn and I completely agree with this. The primary objective of an internship is to learn and i.e. the reason why the internship payment is termed as a stipend, not salary. This stipend is given so that the student can cover his basic expenses such as lodging, traveling, and food during the time of internship. Moreover, learning period never gets over rather it is a lifelong process, this doesn’t mean one has to be unpaid for his entire life.

3. Interns aren’t worth paying

Many corporates claim that inexperienced interns aren’t worth paying. At some extent, this might be correct as they have to spend money on management & education of the interns who have zero industry knowledge. Now, the question arises why are the hiring then? The answer is clear, to get those jobs done which do not requires any skill or knowledge. 

Is Unpaid Internship worth or worthless?

The common thinking among the student pursuing an unpaid internship is that it will either end up in a paid job or give them a push up when they go on to apply for jobs. However, the situation is completely opposite.

According to a survey conducted in 2013 by National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the difference is 1.8% in employment outcomes between individuals who have an unpaid internship experience and those who do not have any. This clearly states that the corporates are just using the fresh young labor forces and not giving anything in return. Below are the several reasons behind not opting for an unpaid internship.

Internship leading to Job
Source: NACE

Why unpaid internship worthless?

1. You have no value

Your value is defined by the value you create for the company. If you are unpaid then you have no value. Thus, making you a faceless structure in the company.

2. Requires hard work and dedication

An unpaid internship is not an easy task. It doesn’t come with flexible working hours and less quantity or quality of work. Rather, it demands a huge amount of dedication and the work is no less than a part-time job. 

3. Undefined Job Roles

The unpaid internship offer job roles which are undefined. It can be anything within or outside your job interest. Moreover, there is no guarantee that this internship will add any value to your resume.

4. Fewer Job offers

An unpaid internship might also lead to fewer job offers. According to NACE, 72% of the graduate with a paid internship gets a job offer whereas the number drops to 44% when it comes to the graduate with an unpaid internship.

5. Leads to low pay scale

If your boss can convince you for an unpaid internship, he/she is likely able to convince you to work for low pay scale too. According to another study conducted by NACE, the median pay scale for a graduate with a paid internship was $53,000 whereas for those with an unpaid internship was $34,000.

Real world Example

One of my college friends got selected for a full-time unpaid internship(Final year project) at Kennametal. The time period of the internship was 1 year(3 days a week for first six months and 5 days a week for another six months), After the completing the internship, the company didn’t hire him. After all this, he opted for a job as an IT engineer at Cognizant. Some of the reasons behind this might be:

  • The type of work given to him was of no benefit.
  • He got frustrated with the undefined job roles.
  • He learned nothing from the job.
  • The corporates lost their respect as they didn’t pay him even after being one of the top MNCs.

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When is unpaid internship worth?

To be very frank internships in India are not for skill generation. It is like a job that can be done by multiple people with zero skills. Big companies use their huge reputation and an overrated certificate known as a ‘Letter of Recommendation’ to hire some unpaid interns in order to get their work done. I will still recommend you to go for the unpaid internship it if favors the below-mentioned reason.

1. NGO/ Non-Profit

If you are an intern at a non-profit organization then getting paid for it is out of the question. Most of the non-profit organizations are involved in research and development work. Thus, you are already learning a lot their from them. Moreover, the unpaid internship is also fine in the case of NGOs as their primary objective is to increase social welfare. 

2. If Apprentice, not an Intern

Apprentice is defined as a person who is learning something from a skilled employer. So, here the situation can be unpaid as the student is learning and the skilled employer is spending time and money on him. For example, if you want to learn music from a renowned musician then the stipend might depend on the employer’s will.

3. Getting worth Experience

An unpaid internship is fine if you are getting something out of it that can help you get your dream job. However, you should be careful whether you are flexible enough to give you the time without sacrificing your studies. 

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The solution to Unpaid Internship

Of course, an unpaid internship is not illegal but it is definitely wrong. It is completely unfair for a corporate to earn profit from an intern’s work when the intern is not getting paid for it. The is often considered as taking advantage of the student’s eagerness to get experience in that field of work. Moreover, an unpaid graduate intern is regarded as someone doing a graduate job without getting paid for it. As far as I am concerned, if a corporate sector is giving training to a person in a particular department with a view to absorbing him as an employee, then the intern must be paid.  

Solution to Unpaid Internship

The Solutions

1. Corporates

Corporates must be called out for their development and narrow-mindedness who offers an unpaid internship in spite of the fact that they are earning huge profits.

2. Students

Students are also one of the reasons behind unpaid internship. If there is someone who is willing to join the corporates as an unpaid intern then there is no end to this. Students must take a stand against the corporates to benefit themselves.

3. Apply from reputed websites

Apply for an internship only on reputed websites such as Internshala and Letsintern. They let you form a profile and help you find relevant internships. However, they also feature few unpaid internships but they offer some perks such as gift vouchers, goodies and the valuable ‘Letter of Recommendation.’

Unless this situation is changed, employers will continue to get their huge amount of work done for free. Eventually, there will be no real value attached to this work after a point of time as it does not focus on building a student with professional skills. The youth is the future and it is necessary to build a generation with real skills and real benefits for their contribution.

‘Best of Luck’

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