Paid Vs. Unpaid Internships: The Debate


There’s no debate that landing an internship can jumpstart your career, give you valuable work experience and create new meaningful networks. But what happens when an internship aligns with your career goals, it’s a great opportunity and, surprise, – it’s unpaid? While some students and grads are extremely grateful for their internship, even if it’s unpaid, the majority of intern seekers can’t afford to spend time working without a paycheque. To make it work, many end up juggling school, an internship and a part-time (or even full-time) job in order to live, study and get ahead in their career. Those who simply can’t afford it end up losing out altogether.

We believe that internships should be paid and we have a long-standing policy to only post paid internships on our job board. The only exception is when an internship fulfills a curriculum requirement approved by a secondary school board, college or university, or alternatively, is clearly identified as a volunteer role.

Unfortunately, the law varies from province to province in Canada with some provinces not having a policy on the topic at all, making the true definition of what constitutes as an internship unclear. Is it work or schooling? In Saul Carliner’s article: To pay or not to pay: That’s the internship question, he argues that it can be both.

The question remains: should internships that are part of an academic program be paid? Students from Concordia University protested in support of paid mandatory internships a couple of weeks ago. The biggest issue facing Concordia University students (and many students across Canada in other jurisdictions) is that academically required unpaid internships aren’t covered by Quebec’s labour standards law, meaning that the students do not have control over their working conditions.

We wanted to share the thoughtfully written article by Saul Carliner, Professor of Education at Concordia University, that we mentioned above to get your perspective.

See the full article ‘To pay or not to pay: That’s the internship question’ by Saul Carliner originally published on The Conversation here and let us know what you think on our Instagram post.