Many Unpaid Internships Cannot Continue to Exist

Jessica Gray’s first and second internships were unpaid. Jess is a a 20 year old, living in share accommodation, working three days a week and balancing full time university.

At the expense of her current job, Jess took on an internship which unlike her retail job, did not pay the rent. She used the savings her parents started for her when she was 2 years old, to be able to survive for 3 months.

Unfortunately, this is a common practice for students all over Australia. Students like Jess take on unpaid internships at the expense of an income and rely on their savings to live.

What is happening in the job world is obvious. Employers are desperate for cheap work and Workers are desperate for anything that looks good on a CV. But if these internships are central to big jobs, with massive salaries… why are universities and institutions not worried about the millions of students who can’t afford to work for free?


Unpaid internships are immoral, exploitive and unfair.


Firstly, University is outrageously expensive with international students paying more than necessary and others gaining interest on their HECs, they are also required to work for free and complete as many unpaid internships as they can in order to eventually find a job in their given study field.

Companies advertise that their internships provide ‘life changing’ experience that ‘benefits the student in their journey of job seeking’. This is bullshit. Students are spending thousands of dollars on university to take classes that teach them skills to which companies/employers are getting free labour to utilise that particular skill the student just paid for. So now, not only do students pay for university, housing, food etc. they are essentially paying to learn a skill to work for free.


Employers more often than not are exploiting students who work for free. As an intern, working for free, you are not actually meant to be ‘working’ per say. You are there as an INTERN not an EMPLOYEE, so if the company you work for are using your work on any of their platforms, or are benefiting from any of the work you have done and you are an intern that is ILLEGAL and LABOUR EXPLOITATION. 

Most unpaid internships are merely, companies and businesses hiring a bunch of students who are desperate for industry experience and placing them the position of an employee where the employer is benefiting from the ‘interns’ and not the ‘interns’ benefiting from the employer


However, in saying this. NOT ALL UNPAID INTERNSHIPS ARE EXPLOITIVE AND IMMORAL. This is a major sentence you need to understand. Informed interns highly recommends students to do research into the company, ask as many questions as you need to regarding your role as an intern and speak up when you feel that you are being exploited. Many companies do the right thing by internships and many companies do the wrong thing. It is a matter of being informed and knowing your rights as interns.


By: Alysha



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One thought on “Many Unpaid Internships Cannot Continue to Exist

  1. David Red says:

    This is so informative! I find it interesting with the amount of internships that exploit students! From previous experiences, I had a company who hired me as an unpaid intern and rather than watching and taking notes, I was fulfilling jobs that an employee would do, working 3 days a week and constantly contributing to their company in ways interns should not. At the time I thought this was normal, however after completing numerous internships afterwards I realised it was not and I was being taken advantage of. I strongly believe that students need to know when an organisation is exploiting them and what to do when that happens!


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