Harrison has no regrets over unpaid work

University of Wollongong graduate Harrison Vesey.
University of Wollongong graduate Harrison Vesey.

Unpaid internships might be "exploitative" but they can also provide opportunities to find a job, according to University of Wollongong graduate Harrison Vesey.

Internships and unpaid work are in the spotlight after the Fair Work Ombudsman released figures showing concerns about internships had almost doubled in a year.

In the 2013-14 financial year, the Fair Work Infoline received 981 inquiries related to internships and unpaid work, up 47 per cent on the 520 received in 2012-13.

The topic was also the subject of a report by University of Adelaide law professor Andrew Stewart, commissioned by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Prof Stewart said the increase in calls to the ombudsman was significant.

He said internships had to be connected with formal education and training to be legal and the main concern was employers lining up a stream of "interns" to work for free.

But Mr Vesey had no regrets over his month-long internship with a videogame magazine in Sydney.

Mr Vesey, who grew up in Dapto and has just started a full-time job as a journalist with the Cootamundra Herald, said he had written stories at the magazine and that was preferable to being treated like a high school student on work experience.

"I studied journalism because I love writing and researching and so I'd rather be doing that than fetching coffees or whatever else - even if I'm not getting paid," Mr Vesey said.

He worked on stories that would have normally been done by one of the paid writers.

"Even though unpaid internships can be a little exploitative, if it's somewhere you enjoy working and you have some fun with it, then the opportunities make it worthwhile."

He said they could also help a person decide if they wished to pursue a particular career before spending considerable time and money studying at university.


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