Just a short rant this week. It all starts with this article:
I’ve never been a fan of internships, and this only really cements that feeling. As an employer, I’ve long been against them for what will likely seem selfish reasons.
Over the years we’ve had many offers to come and work for free at SQM, to sweep the floors, to pack coffee, to do whatever work necessary for a few weeks in exchange for learning more about how roasteries work. We’ve always said no, for a few reasons. Here’s the honest truth as to why:
Firstly, I think payment for services allows an expectation of performance and a level of responsibility that unpaid work does not. The employer is, in many ways, buying a service. I want to pay enough to guarantee excellent delivery. If you do a bad job, I want to buy the right to take you to task about it.
Secondly, I don’t think the trade is particularly financially fair on the employer. Let’s put some monetary values on this, just to illustrate it. An intern offers 40 hours of their time, to do work that would typically pay ~£10/hr. So, they’re offering up maybe £400 of value per week. If a roastery were to bundle up the knowledge offered in order to sell it, perhaps as a form of consultancy, it is unlikely that they’d price it that low.
Thirdly, I think work should always be valued. I hate the idea of people working for free in exchange for opportunity. I’d always suggest avoiding those who want you to work for free. The creative industry has long been a breeding ground for this kind of abuse, and I agree with Mike Monteiro
I’m glad internships haven’t really happened in the coffee industry. I hope that doesn’t change.