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The ethics of internships.. what would you do?

Thursday 26 November, 2020
by Jodi O'Callaghan
A recent graduate from a reputable university has been offered the opportunity to work with their dream organisation, reporting to you as the manager of the strategy division. Your organisation has a good reputation for giving graduates internships. But there's a catch.

The internship is unpaid. On the one hand, the graduate gets ‘work experience’ with a strong brand in financial services, and the organisation gets to ‘reward’ an individual who is willing to work for free. On the other hand, the intern will be expected to work hard – possibly harder than their paid workplace peers – and the organisation gets voluntary unpaid labour. 

There is also the additional issue of missing out on networking opportunities given the majority of employees are still working from home. 

What would you do? 

We encourage you to post your answers in the comments so we can create a healthy discussion, with the aim of learning from our peers, becoming aware of differing perspectives and challenging our own biases.

Please share your ethical dilemmas with us - we can post them anonymously. You can email your dilemmas to

This dilemma was originally published in September 2019. Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash.


There are 1 comments for The ethics of internships.. what would you do?.

Re: The ethics of internships

Monday 30 November, 2020
by Ian S
Having been in this situation some years back (so covid and working from home was not an issue) I decided to offer the trainee the opportunity. We were allowed to pay transport expenses. In the first instance the young girl was so good that we offered her a full time job. In the second the experience gained by the second candidate provided her with sufficient understanding and experience to get a position with another organisation. She has achieved considerable success and I know that in both cases, the candidates appreciated the opportunity that enabled them to show their worth and to gain the experience.

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