Internship or Cheap Labour in Nigeria?

Internship or Cheap Labour in Nigeria?

Many times, I have heard from career coaches and read many articles on career development that encourages fresh graduates to apply for internship roles as a means of career development. They emphasize that it is a good way to get exposure in the corporate world. As much as it is a good idea, especially for fresh graduates who have no work experience, I also think it is exploitative.

”I find it saddening and worrisome when I read some job descriptions for internship placement and I dare conclude that some of these internship placement positions are cheap labour in disguise.” – Mojisola Olurotimi

I often see most of them being presented to fresh graduates with no form of remuneration. Of course, it is an internship and with the employment situation in a country like Nigeria, every fresh graduate would jump at that opportunity. Especially if it is in big companies.

Mojisola further buttressed her point of view by looking up the definition of internship from the dictionary. She said, ”just to be clear, let’s look into the meaning of the word internship from the dictionary.”

“Internship is the position of a student or trainee who works in an organization, sometimes without pay, in order to gain work experience or satisfy requirements for a qualification”.

If we carefully read the above definition and digest it – hook, line and sinker; there’s a key phrase that says, ”gain work experience”, but these days, I read job descriptions ask for some work experience from potential interns.

It definitely irks me to see that some companies out there are actually thriving on the desperation of jobseekers.

 Here’s my plea to all recruiters and hiring managers out there.

“Dear Recruiter,

If you need cheap labour, please do well to hire one and work within your budget but stop enslaving fresh graduates under the guise of “internship” to work for your company for free.

If an intern joins your company to work as an experienced hire, then He/She is NOT AN INTERN!”

I have seen this happen a few times and I find it saddening. To me, it is cheap labour.

If the interns are not learning, improving  or adding a new skill set while working with you, don’t call them your interns. 

It makes no sense to go to school for 4 – years and only to be offered an opportunity that comes with no financial package or intellectual and career benefits. Parents didn’t invest in their children’s university education to work for free.

Just because it is a multinational company is not enough reason to cajole fresh graduates and make them work for free.

I spoke with a friend, Adeola Onatunde. She said, ”I did a year internship at a multinational company after my National Youth Service in 2015. I was not paid a dime. The cost of commuting to the place was approximately 30 thousand naira per month minus feeding. I’d work from 8 a.m – 6 p.m. I endured because I felt I’d gain the needed exposure for my career and also stand a chance to land a role with the company. But it was a total waste of time. I neither got a job or learned anything. In short, it was a broad daylight robbery and cheap labour in disguise.”

Enough of taking advantage of desperate job seekers please!

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