gra-dult-hood n.

1. A stage in life between graduation and adulthood.
2. Gradulthood often involves jobs that don't fulfil a graduate's expectations.
3. A term coined during the recession.

Gradults as ‘unpaid interns’: Right or wrong?

In the past 6 years or so, I reckon I’ve done 6 work experience placements, with another in the pipeline at the moment. Admittedly, 2 weeks walking around a campsite at 15 probably doesn’t count in the real world, and nor does a week with KPMG when I was 17. However, I’d imagine the placements I’ve done within the media industry since, fall in the category of ‘unpaid internship’, which kicked up such a fuss yesterday after the comments by Nick Clegg.

I’m not particularly bitter about the fact that these placements were unpaid, each time I knew the deal I’d signed up for, and each time I’ve learnt something invaluable. Many are welcoming the suggestions, even if not the specific actions, made by Nick Clegg yesterday when he said that unpaid internships were unfair on the less well off – but will it help or hinder a gradults career if employers are forced to pay their interns?

I agree there is definitely a problem. Unpaid internships, for the sole reason that there is no pay, are favourable to those who can afford to work for free. The problem in my mind arises if companies are forced to pay their interns, surely many won’t be able to pay and will stop taking them on altogether. If it’s a choice between getting an opportunity with a company such as the BBC, and working there for a period of time for nothing, or not having the opportunity at all, I know which one I’d choose.

There is a problem, a lot of people recognise the problem, but while there is no viable solution, I’ll probably just continue to make tea for free.

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