Australian Students Share Their Thoughts On Unpaid Internships

What do Australian students know about unpaid internships?

In this article, five students from three different universities across Australia share their thoughts and opinions on unpaid internships.

 

Would you do an unpaid internship in Australia and why/ why not?

Michael:

I wouldn’t settle for an unpaid internship because I want to get paid. To be honest, I don’t think unpaid internships should even exist because it wouldn’t be fair. Although in some cases, there are internships that fall into the observatory role, which is fine.

I think a company has no obligation to create work for someone relatively unskilled, but someone who does actual work for the company should be paid.

Melissa:

I would do an unpaid internship over a paid internship if the company or role sounds more interesting. I also would do an unpaid internship if it’s my only option or if I expect to learn valuable skills from that experience.

Cathy:

I would never do one. Well, because unpaid internships are very unethical. They’re basically like free labour. You’re doing tasks that are essential for the team to operate but not getting paid for it compared to the rest of the team who are getting paid. Just because you’re a student and haven’t finished your bachelors doesn’t mean you contribute at a lesser value.

Fiona:

I don’t know much about internships because I haven’t looked into it yet. As a law graduate, it’s pretty much impossible to find a job after you graduate without an internship. So I would try and look for a paid internship, but if worse comes to worst and I can’t find one then I probably will resort to unpaid.

Suzie*:

I would do an internship for the resume, for experience and to familiarise myself with the workplace environment in Australia. But only for a short period of time 6 months maybe and with a considerable workload.

 

Do you have any knowledge about laws/ guidelines surrounding internships?

Michael:

No, let me google it now.

Melissa:

I actually thought that there was a law where internships are supposed to be paid. But I know that there’s a lot of internship opportunities that are unpaid so I’m not sure anymore.

Cathy:

Not really.

Fiona:

Nope. Actually – we don’t study this in law.

Suzie*:

Nope.

Currently, there is great misinformation surrounding the current Australian internship laws and guidelines. As the internship industry is growing immensely with more and more jobs requiring internship experience, it’s important Australian students know their rights and choices of internships. If you’re considering undertaking an internship, check out this blog for tips to spot an unlawful internship!

With care,

Julia

 

Sources:

 

  • Michael, University of Sydney student studying a Bachelor of Commerce and Advanced Studies
  • Cathy, UNSW student studying a Bachelor of Commerce and Science
  • Suzie*, University of Melbourne student studying a Bachelor of Media Communication and Asian Studies
  • Melissa, UNSW student studying a Bachelor of Commerce
  • Fiona, UNSW student studying a Bachelor of Psychology and Law

*Name of the student has been changed as requested.

 

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