If you read the press, you might assume that you just have to accept being unpaid if you want to do an internship – not so!
Most of the media focus is on topics that really interest journalists – the media, politics and the creative sector. This is where a culture of unpaid interships seems to be rife (and frankly, it’s always been like this – though that’s not to excuse it).
However, for most other types of work, it’s always been the norm to pay for work done, whether you’re a student, recent graduate or experienced professional.
The exceptions are if the internship is an integral part of your university programme (though most industrial placements are paid), or if it’s a short “insight” type of internship, where you get to see what an industry is like, but aren’t expected to be a normal productive worker. Up to a couple of weeks is fine for one of these insight internships, but much longer is pushing it.
Additionally, you wouldn’t normally expect to get paid by many voluntary organisations for short periods of work, though even in the charity sector, if you’re expected to work significant hours, you should expect to be paid or receive expenses as a minimum.
Want to know more?
- There’s a whole section of our website devoted to work experience and internships
- Information on taking unpaid experience and your rights
- Adverts for internships and work experience on CareersLink
- Our own Manchester Graduate Internship Programme, offering paid internships, mainly with local smaller employers.
This excellent short video from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and Channel 4, makes it clear what your rights are and how to find out more if you feel you are being (or have been) exploited.
Thanks to Tristram Hooley, University of Derby, for bringing this video to my attention (through Twitter, of course!)
Careers Consultant (Postgraduate) at the University of Manchester, UK