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Saturday, March 13, 2021

Paid Internships Please for Arts, Liberal Arts, Communication and Social Work

#LongPostAlert #PaidInternshipsPlease

This one is a thorn in the Achilles' tendon. Year after year, I have had students in the fields of communication, social work, humanities, design and arts spend hours toiling at events or on projects that are organised or sponsored by industry, corporates and NGOs, without pay. Why? Because nobody has ever asked for it before. People are willing to pay management, tech, IT, engineering, accounts and medical interns (often a pittance but something) but not to those who are in the sphere of liberal and fine arts and development. Somewhere, as educators, we often side-step the issue in the classroom. We talk everything about the media, for example, except how much you should expect in an internship or a job. We assume students shall work for free, because, when we were students, we worked for free, right? And students, even when they earn internships in organizations which CAN pay, don't ask. Media organisations worldwide avoid the issue by saying they're giving a 'nobody' the 'exposure' he or she needs. In India, if you're lucky like me, you'll be 'allowed' to freelance for the media you had done your internship at and make some money after your internship. Bear in mind, this was for editorial interns in a newspaper. The marketing interns got their dough at the end of their internship. 

Over a period of time, I have realized that people pay when you ask them to pay for a job they want you to do. It maybe a mere Rs 100-500 a day for a communications intern at a global event but it is something. If you think that providing food and travel is enough to get you through an internship, well, let me tell you, even construction workers get that. At least ask for the minimum wage of Rs 176 a day. As for organizations, and especially those that have huge events that attract sponsors from everywhere, how about treating all your interns equally?

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