By Babur Ilchi, November 13 2014 —
Unpaid internships seem unfair when you first look at them. Students are offering up their labour without receiving money in return.
But money isn’t the only way you can be paid for a service. Unpaid internships are a way for students to get experience in their field. In a competitive job market, this kind of experience is often more valuable than a paycheque.
Unpaid internships work for both companies and students. The student is able to make connections and network with future employers. This gives new graduates the chance to talk with industry professionals and even receive job offers straight after graduation.
Companies also benefit from unpaid internships. While the student is able to learn and apply skills in their field, the company they’re working for receives help without the risks associated with hiring a full-time employee.
Businesses still have to put money into training interns. This means that an internship isn’t completely free for a company, even when the intern isn’t formally paid.
If you’ve turned on the news in the past six years, you know that the job market isn’t good. Our economy is still recovering, which makes it risky for businesses to pay and train unexperienced employees.
Unpaid internships offer companies a way to hire summer students and graduates while mitigating their risk. Although companies still have to spend money training interns, it’s nowhere near the amount they would have to spend on training, paying, laying off and then repeating the process with multiple employees.
With interns, businesses can gauge how a new employee would fit into the company. Job loyalty is an important factor for most companies, and unpaid internships are a cost-effective way for companies to assess the motivations of a new employee.
If we expect businesses to train and pay graduates, students should shoulder some of the burden. Companies don’t have the ability to use their limited budget to train and pay new employees with the constant risk of economic downturn.
Without unpaid internships, companies are forced to take risks that could result in massive losses. Students are at a loss too, as we’re unable to gain valuable experience after graduating.
Unpaid internships might not be ideal, but neither is the current economic situation. Sharing the risk means that companies can take comparably small losses by spending money on training new graduates, not paying them. Students can gain connections in their industry by being paid with experience and expanding professional networks.
It’s not fair to expect businesses to take on all the risks of hiring new graduates. Unpaid internships ensure that students take a fair share of the risk. Everyone should share the hazards of a volatile economy.