[Originally published in the Memorial University Student Newspaper (MUSE) on September 24, 2014].
An oldie, but a goodie.
Overworked and unpaid interns can now rest easy as their hard work is no longer going unrewarded
A hot topic of debate in recent years has been the concept of the unpaid internship: a trial that students in many faculties must face at least once in their academic career. Many students find the idea of the unpaid internship a deplorable yet necessary thing of evil. Most jobs, especially in this swamp-ish economy and job market, require students to have experience before they can get work. Essentially, students are giving up their time to work for free “valuable” experience.
The motion for these unpaid workers to be paid is gaining national attention, with the CBC recently publishing an article on the subject titled “Unpaid Academic Internships Called Exploitation by Students.” The article notes that Memorial University’s Student Union (MUNSU) is breaking ground with a campaign to solve the current inequity between faculties and their internships.
And their voices have been heard.
For the first time in the history of unpaid internships, students now have the option to work for peanuts. Yes, for every hour of work that a nursing, social work, or education student puts into their internship, they will receive a generous handful of peanuts.
“I think it’s a brilliant solution to this harrowing dilemma,” said Calvin Hobbes, the coordinator for unpaid student work terms. “There sometimes just isn’t enough money to go around, but there are plenty of peanuts. Do you know how many peanuts you can get in a container from Costco at an affordable price? A whole lot. Do take a guess, we’re having a contest and whoever guesses the closest wins a $100 gift card to the Keg.”
When asked how many peanuts constituted a “generous handful,” Hobbes had this to say: “As many as they can physically fit in their hand. That’s the idea. A lot of students have a hard time paying for their rent and groceries, so really we’re just cutting one step out. Peanuts are a great source of protein and fat. Everyone wins.”
On the topic of those unpaid interns with peanut allergies, Calvin Hobbes had no comment.
Many employers who offer these students their work terms are rapidly signing on with the work-for-peanuts motion. The idea has already broken ground as far west as Ontario.
“It’s not so bad,” said Peter MacGuyver, a nursing student currently completing his first work term. “At least it puts food on the table. In fact, you can’t even see the table-top beneath all the peanuts now.”
The campaign is far from over, but at least now many people are acknowledging a problem with the system. According to many, this is at least a step in the right direction, as across the country, peanuts are steadily improving students’ lives.