Last week social media exploded with opinions following a screenshot (above) of Marie Claire (the glossy magazine) offering interns R30.00 a day. The reaction was unanimous: How dare they offer such a low wage. The Southern African Freelancers Association (Safrea) came out with a strong statement saying interns are being exploited. Prominent figures said the matter should be referred to the Department of Labour.
If this is our reaction and opinion, no wonder South Africa is sitting with an unemployment rate of 25% and youth unemployment at 40%. We are not taking responsibility for ourselves and we are teaching the youth to do the same. We are developing an attitude of entitlement: Dear youth, don’t worry about giving more, we will force employers to give you more. We will take them to the Department of Labour, we will force them to the CCMA, we will strike, we will demand, we will get. The reality however: they employ less, they abolish internships and the economy as a whole is suffering.
Let’s get back to the beginning. Internship? The definition on Wikipedia:
Intern positions may be paid or unpaid and are usually temporary. Generally, an internship consists of an exchange of services for experience between the student and an organization.
So here’s Marie Claire, an international brand and one of the best magazines in the world. They offer young graduates an opportunity to come and work with them, to be exposed to their systems, their management, to learn from them. They offer R30 a day. What do we see? We look pass all the experience and connections you can gain and we focus on the immediate monetary reward: R30.
I get it, R30 is nothing. People on Twitter compared the daily wage against what you can buy: An avo at Woollies or one coffee at Vida e Caffe… What a corrupted attitude!
If you really want to make it in this world, you’ll beg for this opportunity and make it work. When you in this position, you definitely don’t drink coffee at Vida and you definitely don’t eat at Woollies. You will cut back on everything. You will sleep on a couch. You will waiter tables at night, you will do promotional work over the weekend. You will make it work.
We have been programmed to blame everyone and eveything but ourselves. White people say they can’t get jobs because of affirmative action, black people say they can’t get jobs because of racism. Meanwhile, the hard working people, regardless of race, get jobs because they have the right attitude and is willing to work for it.
Easy for me to comment? Successful entrepreneur writing this out of a Sandton hotel? Yes, today this is the case. At 18 it wasn’t. I was cutting grass to pay my own school fees, I couldn’t get a bursary, I started working during the day, earned R900, paid for my own degree while working in the day and studying at night. 6 years later at age 24, I was a self made millionaire. Because I’m white? No, because I worked damn hard.
And you know what, that’s all it takes: hard work. You will be successful. And when you are, you will start your own business and you will employ those interns who were not willing to do this. And you will pay them… And they will still not be able to afford coffee at Vida or an avo at Woollies.
A friend, Hein Scholtz, commented the following on Facebook. Today he is successful in what he does and it all started with an internship:
I spent 6 weeks in an unpaid internship when I finished my BPhil and it nearly ruined me financially, with a car, petrol and living expenses to keep.
BUT i did learn a lot about hard work, and I made a lot of media contacts I eventually used to great benefit in the next 5 years.
Stop the excuses and start the grind. What’s your opinion?