Every student who has completed a social work, education, nursing, or healthcare program knows the struggle. After the first year, many of us have to apply to an unpaid internship, known as ‘placement,’ which is part of our grade. Some schools are willing to help students find their own placements. But others force students to find a placement on their own.
Either way, placement isn’t easy. It forces you to work an eight-hour day without pay. Many organizations treat you like dirt. They will assign you the most menial tasks. It’s exploitative, especially when you’re forced to complete a few hundred hours.
I believe that placement students should be paid. And here are 10 reasons why:
1. You have to treat it like a job.
Universities brand placement as a course because an assigned professor oversees your progress. But in reality, it’s a job.Your whole day is filled with meetings and tasks which you are forced to complete by a certain deadline. Your superiors expect you to uphold a certain level of professionalism, and to collaborate — just like a job.
2. You have to pay for additional expenses outside of placement.
Traveling to placement isn’t free –- you still have to pay bus fare. And if you’re living on your own, you have rent to pay. Doing an unpaid placement does not help with any of that. And if you have children, that will take up most of your time and energy.
3. Placement takes up a lot of your time.
In most programs, you’ll have to go to placement for two to three days a week. That’s already part-time hours, except you’re volunteering. So, it may be difficult to pick up additional hours for other jobs and squeeze some time in for self-care.
4. You still have clients under your care.
For those of you in nursing and social services, imagine having clients under your care and not receiving pay. It’s challenging enough to assist clients to the best of your abilities, and moreover, there’s an ethical aspect. Do you think clients will be able to trust an unpaid student? You’re doing valuable work and you have access to confidential information. Because of this, you need to be paid.
5. You will feel more confident in your work.
I hate to say it, but there’s a certain level of value whenever you’re paid versus volunteering. When you receive pay, you feel obligated to do an excellent job. But if you don’t, you aren’t sure how you can navigate such projects. Studies show that higher-income earners are more satisfied with their jobs, after all.
6. You will feel a part of the company.
You are more likely to feel included if the organization pays you because you feel that they trust your contribution. However, if you’re volunteering, you may feel that your work is going to waste.
7. Organizations won’t exploit you.
Having unpaid placement students is like free labor. These students can complete tasks the supervisor may be holding off. After all, having more extra bodies in the workforce can lead to a higher productivity rate. And if these extra bodies are paid, they won’t feel exploited by the organization.
8. Paying tuition will be less stressful.
Since you’re in school, you still have to pay tuition and other student fees. By having a paid placement, you’ll feel less stress when the deadline arrives.
9. It will be better for your mental health.
Imagine going to placement on certain days, then going to school at the end of the week. It will affect your mental health, especially if you were to juggle placement, work, and studies. You need extra time for self-care to avoid burnout.
10. You won’t have to work extra hours.
Having an unpaid placement has forced many students to take on extra jobs. But if the placement is paid, you won’t have to take on extra gigs to make ends meet.
Navigating a student placement is challenging, as people expect you to perform well, attend class, and fulfill personal obligations. But with an unpaid placement, it’s almost impossible to achieve these goals. After all, we are doing work which is making an impact for the organization. So why not show us some appreciation and pay us?
Photo by Luis Melendez on Unsplash
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