Internships: A Gateway To The Working World, Or Hell?
Internships can be a necessary evil for students or fresh graduates who are preparing to enter the workforce.
While it’s mandatory for most polytechnic and university students to undergo an attachment or internship during their course of study in order gain exposure, for fresh graduates it’s simply a way to show people what they can do as they seek a full-time position.
Eager to leave a good impression, interns often undertake tasks such as buying meals and going for coffee runs. But while such manual labour is common for interns, some companies may take it too far, and treat their interns in a way that amounts to bullying and abuse.
A girl who claimed to be a polytechnic student posted a comment on July 9 on unemployment support site Transitioning.org sharing her internship experience, which was turned into an article by the site on July 24. (UPDATE: Her comment and article have both been taken down by Transitioning.org.)
The girl, whom we shall call “A”, said her internship was as an HR/admin support staff at a recruitment consultancy.
Despite her job scope, the student was made to do menial tasks such as buy cigarettes for the boss despite being underaged, as well as vacuuming “the whole office every Friday”.
She said her boss also banned her from using the toilet — a basic amenity.
She was also sexually harassed by a manager, she claimed, who made “inappropriate comments” about her another female intern.
Read the lurid story here:
She also quoted the wife of the boss as saying they should hire more interns, calling them “cheap labour” who will do anything as their grades depend on it.
Sadly, with her internship grade on the line, A did endure the abuse, though she told her lecturer everything.
And the lecturer did support her when the company gave her a negative appraisal, which was voided.
According to A, when the lecturer quizzed the manager if the intern was made to do tasks outside her job scope, he replied: “So, what if I did? Is it a crime?”
Not The First Time
A was not the only one who had suffered under the hands of that company it seems.
Her comment was actually in response to an article written by a former employee of the company, who shared about the company culture as well as her own experiences in a post on transitioning.org dated Dec 9, 2015 (UPDATE: This post has also been taken down by Transitioning.org):
She claimed she was forced to play a game called “To Kiss, To Marry and To One Night Stand With” with 3 male colleagues.
A manager (the same one who made “inappropriate comments” about A), then proceeded to play the categorization game himself and chose her as the colleague he wanted to have a one-night stand with.
This made her feel “uncomfortable”, and she deemed it “degrading”.
And how did she leave the company? Because she said she was publicly scolded and then forced to pay “$80” for a birthday party for her boss that she could not attend.
The company has noticed A’s story, and denied her allegations in a Facebook post on Wednesday (July 26):
They also said they were seeking legal remedy.
Tough Job Market
We hope the upcoming “legal remedy” can enlighten the public on whether these claims are true or not.
Interns are vulnerable; they just want more experience so they can get full careers in future.
The job market is already tough, and we certainly don’t need local job-seekers to have a more difficult time finding jobs.