Unpaid Internships

First thing’s first. If this blog post disappears, it means I got at least an interview. So, this is just a little heads up that if this post does ‘disappear’ then you know why.

All jokes aside, I just wanted to highlight something that I find very concerning. It’s nothing new; it’s just the issue of unpaid internships. It’s something I had given some thought to, but not in any great detail until now, considering that it is now that am currently looking for an internship for this Autumn. In fact, isn’t it funny how we only care about things once they seem to affect us?

Anyways, back to the point.

Before people open their smelly mouths to tell me ‘they’re necessary for experience’ or ‘they’re a good way to get your foot in the door’ save it. You’d be preaching to the choir. I have undertaken many unpaid internships in industries ranging from broadcast media to investment banking. I know what they’re about; what’s good about them and what’s not so good.

More to the point, I can understand why some companies don’t pay interns. I mean, why pay someone to do a job that another person will willingly and adequately do for free. Morally it’s not the best approach, but it’s okay, I can understand.

Where I am less understanding is with organisations such as the UN. It appears that the United Nations wants to be seen as a progressive institution, especially with regards to human rights and equality. And that is fine, but how can such an organisation be taken seriously considering their stance on unpaid labour.

I must be fair and say that it’s not all the UN agencies that take unpaid interns. I had done a little bit of digging, and I can see that UNICEF and the World Food Programme offer a small stipend to their interns and that’s fair enough. After all, if this is what you require from potential interns, [taken from UN City website]

• Strong verbal and written communication skills in Danish and English
• Demonstrated interest in the field of communications and/or international diplomacy or international relations
• Web management skills, experience with CMS
• Photo editing skills/graphic design experience.
• Video production skills.
• Applicants must be enrolled in a full-time university degree program in a graduate school (Master’s or equivalent) at the time of application and for the duration of the internship.
• Applicants must demonstrate a keen interest in the work of the United Nations and have a personal commitment to the ideals of the UNCharter.
• Be committed to working 40 hours a week.

then I don’t think it’s unreasonable to pay them a little change at the end of the month.

If a large investment bank does not want to pay its interns, I think that’s morally wrong. Morally wrong, but to some extent understandable. After all, they are primarily concerned with one thing and one thing only, making a profit. But the UN… United Nations… FN… Forenede Nationer, whatever you want to call them, need to be doing better, much better.

If the UN can’t lead by example and even stand by its own standards, how can we expect other employers to do the same?

4 thoughts on “Unpaid Internships

  1. Loved this blog and I definitely agree that unpaid internships are ludicrous.
    Wishing you the best of luck in your job search and hopefully you can make this blog ‘disappear’ 😋

    Loz xo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had an unpaid externship but that was back in 1979. Fortunately for me it was only 10 weeks and it was in the same city where my grandparents lived. They let me live with them for the whole time – fed me and drove me to work etc. At the end of the externship the boss gave me a small cash bonus for doing a great job and them offered me a real job. It worked out. But without family to support me I’d never have been able to do it. In this day and age it seems nearly criminal not to pay an intern. I do hope you get a paid position.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks for the kind words. I’ve been in a similar position during some of my previous internships and if it wasn’t for the support of my family I would have missed out on so many opportunities.


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