People used to know internships as part of the graduation process. But now the scenario has changed. Students can now join internships anytime and anywhere as many companies are now coming out of recruiting traditional graduate or degree holders to skill-based recruitment policies.
Now people are getting jobs outside their academic sector with their set of skills. A lawyer is working as a website developer, an engineer is working as a graphic designer and many more.
Internships as part of graduation are mostly paid, but the new culture of people doing internships before completing credit hours at university has created a new problem. That is unpaid internships. What do you get in return? Experience, certificate or strong CV?
But are these unpaid internships really worth it?
To me, no it is not. If the internship provider companies are profit-making ones, then they are making money from the work interns are doing for free. So, not paying at all is unfair. Let us talk about why it is not worth it. Most people join these free internships to add something on their CV.
Let me ask the people who want to do an unpaid internship, what are you getting in return? Experience? Start a business. You will have more experience. Yes, you might lose money, but you are spending it while going to the office too. Practical knowledge? Do a course, learn more and improve your skill. The more you learn, the more you will be able to earn. CV? Come on! Everyone knows how the recruitment happens in these unpaid internship programs. In most cases, the interns get hired because they will work for free. They do not get to handle the project all alone and what they do is just to assist others.
But still it is work. You are investing your time and time is valuable. Not just time, you are spending money as well for transport, calls, internet and lunch. You are spending a lot of money from your own gut for another company. You should at least get something in return as a form of motivation. And this cannot be a t-shirt that you will never wear.
The companies are making money from unpaid interns' work. Some companies hire interns to photocopy documents, do data entry, make calls and all other kinds of works that do not really mean anything. But does that mean you should not pay them? The person is investing his/her time and you are making money in your company. So, paying nothing at all is just unfair.
And the companies who make the unpaid interns do more work than the mentioned basic things are doing more injustice.
If you are a big company, corporate ethics tell you that you should pay the interns for all the work they do. Since they are interns, they will not be doing much, but pay them for what they are doing. It might be a bit less but pay something. And if you are a start-up, pay at least the transport costs or arrange lunch.
Here is the thing, unpaid work has no inspiration in it. People do not get the motivation to work. No matter how chill the place is and how casual the environment is, unpaid work does not help people. It frustrates them.
If you are paying only Tk1,000 per month, that is a very good start. The intern will have a motivation to work for. Their productivity will increase. And in a month, you are making them work worth more than Tk1,000. So, paying a minimum amount is better than paying nothing. The interns will not have any motivation and might even ruin your work.
Do not pay nothing. It demotivates people even if the person is unskilled. You should pay for the labour, the time, the effort they are putting in your company. It is your company, not theirs. You are the one who goes home with profit but they will go home empty hands.
Therefore, unpaid internships are a big injustice that needs to stop. Experience and certificates do not feed people. Many skilled workers are unemployed and sleep hungry at night. Do not do this injustice to people. Unpaid internship is neither worthy for the one doing it nor for the company offering it.
Shah Md Akib Majumder is a student of School of Law at BRAC University
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.