Dear Father Christmas,
When I wake up on Christmas morning I will not be looking for any packages under the tree. All I want for Christmas is a job that pays.
I value my future more than any gift tied up with paper and ribbon. But is it wrong that I want to feel valued too? I have been good this year. I have worked hard; both at university and on the internships I have done in the hope that they will get me ahead in my career. But I have never been paid for my time, I am tired, and I cannot afford to work for free anymore.
I am told that if I want a successful career internships are the passport into the land of the employed. My CV should be full of them, they say. I am also told that I should not expect to be paid, even after I graduate. Does that mean I should not expect to eat or pay my rent either? Because without a wage how can I afford to live?
The only Christmas present I want this year is the knowledge that 2013 will bring me closer to my future, and that I will not be held back by my inability to work for free. I want to have the same opportunities as those with wealth to support them and send them on their way. I want to apply for a job where the criteria will be my skills, not the number of places I have interned, or effectively the number of months I have managed to scrape by on zero income.
I want to see real graduate jobs instead of six-month ‘internships’ that I could never afford to do. I want to see the government support young people like me by enforcing the National Minimum Wage laws they created that say workers, interns included, are entitled to a wage. In the vast majority of cases unpaid internships are illegal yet they are as abundant as glitter at Christmas.
I understand that times are tough and jobs are scarce, but the current system of unpaid internships set only the rich up to succeed. Does that mean I deserve to fail?
It may sound like I am asking for a lot but it doesn’t really require Christmas magic for my wish to come true. All it needs is the government and employers to accept their moral responsibility and the law.
Could 2013 be the year that my dream becomes a reality?
The Unpaid Intern
P.S I sincerely hope your workers are paid a decent wage. Because we interns are like elves; they may not be as glamorous as Santa Claus, but Christmas would fall apart without them.