By Jacob Dubé
Whoever said “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” was full of shit.
Internships are a great way to dip your feet into the workforce, learn a lot and get some contacts. Right off the bat, most programs at Ryerson tell you you’re probably going to have to do an unpaid internship at some point. It’s presented as a hard truth in some industries, especially in media.
According to The Link, Concordia University’s student newspaper, students from the Montreal school’s journalism department voted on a strike mandate to pro-test against the rise of unpaid internships in their industry. In February, students from Concordia’s communications department and the School of Community and Public Affairs (SPCA) joined as well. They’re planning to strike on March 18 to 22, and demanding the provincial government end unpaid internships and protect interns under Quebec’s labour code.
Sean Illman-White, a member of the SCPA’s student association, told The Link the coalition has come to understand that Concordia’s main goal is the “continued commodification of education and profit,” instead of prioritizing the well-being of students.
Watching from Ontario, it’s hard not to get a bit jealous of our eastern counterpart’s organization (there’s a reason their tuition is much lower than ours on average). Nobody’s happy about working for free, but it can often seem like there’s no better option.
Working an unpaid internship can teach students their work isn’t worth as much as older employees (who probably have similar credentials anyways) and that they have to put in the hours to prove they deserve basic pay. It’s also a crash course for employers on how much they can get away with.
The Link reported their province’s education ministry will respond to the demands by April, which is a whole lot better than where we are over here—a slap on the back, some business cards and probably less money than when we started six weeks ago.