The great unpaid internships debate
27th March 2013
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As students up and down the country begin to think about summer jobs, Polly Grice considers whether unpaid internships are an excuse for employers to take advantage of students or an opportunity for valuable experience and the chance to move on to something bigger and better. The dispute over unpaid internships has been raging on for a while now, and it gained momentum earlier this month as a bill to ban the advertisement of unpaid internships failed to be heard in parliament. It’s an issue which needs to be discussed, but whatever the outcome of that talk may be, it won’t help this year’s graduates. At the start of any career you’re expected to get some real world experience under your belt, and the first port of call for many is an internship or placement. The trouble is that most companies just don’t seem to be able to offer students or recent graduates pay for the work they do, which can make doing those internships very difficult. One job being currently advertised says the company is looking for an intern to work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, for six months. The position is unpaid. Assuming you get paid lunch breaks, even at minimum wage the salary for those six months would be well over £6,000.
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