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Social issues

Exploitation of Interns

Internships and work experience are generally considered the epitome of landing your dream job – the most practical move in getting where you want to be in the working world. But to what extent have organisations used this to unreasonably outwork the young, naïve and hopeful?

As kids, we’re always told “good things come to those who put in the work”, “you reap what you sow”, and “put in the hard yards to uncover the benefits”. This has been at the forefront of our minds, subconsciously telling us it’s the best and sometimes only way of reaching our career goals.

It instills a competitive root and makes us almost fully susceptible to any opportunity merely advertising our aspiring duties. In saying so, has it gotten to the point where organisations not only know this but use it to their advantage in primarily getting their dirty work done?

Students are now coming into their internships with employers eager in having their coffees fetched for free, paperwork filed during hours they’re not around and sloppy seconds completed when they just can’t be bothered. Making matters worse, this is personally catered to the desires of the employer and students can be conditioned to complete this in their own time.

While there is a general expectancy of being under some sub-hierarchy, the lines between between free labour and added organisational value have become blurred with borderline exploitation. Employers can go without giving recognition or intention of incorporating the student’s idea of value or helping them grow, potentially and understandably turning them away from the sanguine trust they once had in their chosen industry.

Of course it’d be frivolous for an intern to think they’d go from being an inexperienced student with a couple units under their belt to being treated as the Steve Jobs of the company, but the degree at which cheap work is sold as “internships” remain bleak.

Not to say skills can’t be brushed up on or educational theories not put to the test, but it’s almost as if assigned tasks and added pressures have unethically redefined the realities of the working world, competently sabotaging the “hard-working” motive driving students to get to that point.

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