federal budget

Unpaid work, is it worth is?

Is unpaid work or internships worth the time and effort? Here's some tips on how to decide.

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It’s amazing to think that two thirds of Australians are expected to do unpaid work and that’s without taking into account internships.

The value of that is worth around $128 billion a year to businesses, said economist Jim Stanford, director of the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute in an interview with the ABC.

Outside the office it’s also estimated that women tend to do double the amount of unpaid work than men, when you take into account childcare and volunteer work.

An internship is a form of unpaid work, but unlike the slog of expectations that comes with working for a wage or the love of the family, this kind of work is all for the experience.

That’s right, you don’t get paid, or don’t get paid much. So how do you tell if it’s worth your time and energy?

Internships are about gaining valuable work experience.

Ideally what you want is an internship that allows you to observe and work with industry professionals in an actual workplace.

They might also provide a link between study and the workforce, and developing the vocational skills that will help you secure paid work in your chosen field. Often it’s the kind of work that can’t be taught in a university classroom.

A good internship program will contain a structured combination of training and work experience.

It’s not, or rather shouldn’t be about an organisation simply obtaining free labor. And you shouldn’t be made to feel that you are all to lucky to have the job or that you are a dime-a-dozen employee. Value yourself!!

Yes, you will probably do work for them because let’s face it you can’t really learn much if you just watch others work.

But the work you do is designed to enhance your workplace experience, provide you with a taste of what occurs within your chosen industry and allow you to build your skill set.

Internships vary in length. Many operate full-time over university breaks, particularly Summer, or for six to 12 months after graduation.

Others may offer work placement for one or two days per week while you study.

An internship may highlight aspects of an industry that you weren’t aware of.

It may confirm your choice of career or prove that certain roles really aren’t for you.

Many interns find mentors along the way who they remain in contact with well into their careers.

Others find that their placements lead to permanent, paid roles within the organisation.

You might not get paid during your internship, but you will be benefit.

It’s true that participating in an internship program may keep you from paid work for a period of time, and this may not be practical for some, but the experience you gain, skills you develop, contacts you make and references you receive can prove priceless when it comes to obtaining employment, particularly in highly sought after fields.

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