Do interns price people out of the job market?

Adam Thorn in Mumbrella asks the important question is the requirement of unpaid internships preventing people from poorer backgrounds from being able to obtain work in the journalism profession?

The slow death of many traditional publishers and broadcasters means there aren’t enough entry-level jobs in the industry to meet the enormous interest from young people. This swing in the balance of power between supply and demand has meant media owners now choose not to train recruits, and instead expect them to arrive with a journalism degree and also the practical experience of having completed months – or, more often, years – of unpaid internships. Both of these things are, of course, very expensive to undertake, while the latter is usually acquired through family connections.

In the article Thorn looks at the extent to which the journalism profession is recruiting people largely from privileged backgrounds and queries what happens to job aspirants without the financial support to obtain work experience demanded by employers.

With most entry-level journalism jobs requiring 2-3 years experience, it places individuals without an internship in a Catch-22 situation of wanting to work but being unable to afford to do so. This unfortunately is more common than you can think, I know of a friend who was unable to take up an internship due to these reasons, having to refuse the offer because he cannot claim Centrelink benefits in the duration of obtaining experience. This despite the government funding the compulsory Work for The Dole program as a “work experience program,” where rock-painting and waiting around in op-shops are perceived more valuable than participants applying skills they spent thousands of hours developing.

For advice on how to research or look for alternatives to an internship, go to Informed interns which offers a host of articles dealing with the pros and cons of internship programs.

What do you think about interns, do you think post-degree internships should be illegible for Newstart payments or is that merely encouraging organisations to offload training obligations unto the welfare state?


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