Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Internships: Should you be paid?

Students are feeling the competition out there already; the pressure is on to get some career-related experience in your field of interest before your post-graduation job search begins.

An issue arises, however, when looking into internship positions. Should these "jobs" be paid? Or should students be willing to sacrifice months of potential earnings for this seemingly necessary experience to be competitive in today's job market? This is a touchy subject that is actually pretty complicated.

According to an article on Macleans.ca,
"The Ontario Employment Standards Act says that unless interns are students getting credit for school (or they’re working in an industry not covered by the legislation, like government or charities), the employee must be paid minimum wage." 
Well, that's a positive, right? Not necessarily. It just so happens that a lot of unpaid internships fly under the radar for many reasons; some students simply don't know their rights or the fear of complaining and getting fired tops asking for some kind of payment. 

This isn't to say that unpaid internships aren't valuable, they just might be the kind of position you've been looking for - especially if the program is designed for students to gain experience and be mentored in the field. However, due to the financial strains on many students it may be impossible to accept an unpaid position - a completely understandable, but unfortunate reality for some.

All in all, paid internships are not only more legally fair in most cases but also a more attractive option for students. You might find though that they are not always available. It really all comes down to what you're willing to sacrifice for that resume-building experience - the choice is up to you!

To start looking into internship positions, check out our website, CareerZone, or stop by the Resource Centre for more information. 

- Lia

For more information regarding unpaid internships, check out these links:

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