We at Work In Startups believe that everyone should get paid for their work, regardless of age, experience, or any other factor.
As more and more people get university degrees, the competition for entry-level jobs becomes tougher. Everyone is looking for something that puts them ahead of their competition, and the biggest advantage is having experience. Getting said experience can be difficult though, as companies will naturally select the person with more experience. Creating a weird paradox of needing the experience to get experience, but you can’t get experience because you have no experience.
This desperate need for experience by fresh graduates is something companies have started to take advantage of. Offering unpaid internships because the employee gets valuable experience. Unpaid internships that are more than just shadowing or part of the intern’s studies, qualify the intern as a worker and must be paid at least minimum wage.
Experience is invaluable for people new to the job market, but unfortunately, it doesn’t pay anyone’s rent. It’s not right to expect someone to either live with their parents or hold down a second job next to your full-time job. This will also automatically exclude a large portion of the population as only a small demographic is in a position to complete an unpaid internship. And lastly how much effort can you expect from someone that isn’t getting paid?
If your company is in a place where you can’t afford to pay anyone a salary, maybe you shouldn’t be hiring just yet. There is no shame in taking it slow and building strong foundations before you start hiring people. Taking on an intern will require both time and effort from your side on teaching and guiding them through everything they need to learn.
However, there is a way that benefits both the startup and intern. The 16-24 age group has historically been the one struggling the most with unemployment, the pandemic hasn’t done them any favors in that aspect. The government is looking to fight that via their Kickstart Scheme. Adzuna’s co-founder Andrew Hunter wrote an article explaining the scheme and how it has changed since its first iteration.
If you have the skills, knowledge, and time required to properly train someone, this is a great way for a startup to get extra hands-on board without incurring extra costs.