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3 reasons why you may want to pay your interns

By Brenda Kiptim | July 30th 2017
  • Most Kenyan companies do not pay interns or give them any allowance yet they work very work for the company.

The ethics of non-paying internships is always an issue for discussion. On one side employers can argue that they are giving fresh graduates a good opportunity and “exposure” as they train them for the real world which can be quite different from that of the classroom.

The intern on the other hand with a feeling of helplessness with all the reports of “unemployment being at its worst” may be willing to do anything to get one foot in. Still even in all this confusion of what is right and wrong and the difference between an employee and an intern we should ask ourselves why exactly should an employer pay their intern?

With laws that can be interpreted in various ways and graduates uncomplaining and desperate to work for free; employees can easily brush the matter aside. Despite all these, these are 3 reasons why an employer may be better of paying their interns? If not for one’s conscious at least some reasons here will actually be beneficial for the company and its profits.


1. Inclusivity of Social classes

Internship can be said to be an item of luxury for some. For the struggling Kenyan, education is seen as the key to some elusive success. This would explain why parents all the way from their villages sell things to send their children to school in search of this elusive success.

The moment children from these families graduate they are on their own with parents demanding to see their struggle pay off instantaneously. Not only does the graduate have parents putting pressure on them, but also real life hits away from the school hostels with now landlords and empty pockets.

This graduate will probably not consider an unpaid internship which has become synonymous with getting a chance in your area of interest. No, because bills need to be paid, the graduate will probably settle for something that has nothing to do with their degree but what pays the bills locking themselves in careers that they may never fully develop in due to lack of knowledge.

 Of course we can ask ourselves graduation did not just appear out of nowhere they could have saved money for such times but work with me here, okay?

2. Setting an example

If we are to build a generation that values equality and fairness, then we need to start by showing them that is possible and practical. Most people would assume that the intern gains from the employer and not vice versa but this for most is not true.

 It should be as simple as if the intern is bringing in sales they deserve to get something out of it. In fact in some situations employers hire interns as accountants who clearly see that there is money in the company and see the employer's huge salary all while they get nothing out of it.

Even a company with a tight budget can afford to give their interns allowances to keep them going. This will set an example for the intern; valuing everyone regardless of their position.

3. Better relationship and morale amongst interns

It goes without saying that people who feel valued feel the need to produce good results to match their worth. An intern who feels disposable will not feel the need to contribute much to organizations. Even if realistically the intern’s worth may not have that much value for the organization, in order to maximize their potential they need not know this.

It saves the company from the unnecessary hustle of constantly training new interns who constantly walk out when better opportunities as they see the organization as a purgatory in their lives. It saves on time, resources and office dynamics.

Also for the issue of raising a generation that is entitled and have nothing to show for it ,that is generalization and a character flaw that money or lack thereof cannot solve.

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