Paid Internship: Why This Matters

Unpaid internships have no place in the public relations profession in Canada and should be eliminated. These key messages can assist our members in advocating for paid internships in their workplaces and in their professional circles. Together, we can end this exploitive practice.

For our profession:

  • The public relations profession is only as good as the individuals behind it. In a highly competitive industry, it is innovation that gives organizations an edge. Students are one of the critical drivers of this innovation, suggesting newer and better ways to do things, based on their recent educational experiences and immersion in today’s rapidly evolving cultural landscape.
  • Equity and access to opportunity are enormous and growing issues in Canada, and in the public relations profession. It is crucial that public relations practitioners lead in this area to build trust in our relationships, partnerships and communities.
  • The unpaid internship is an exploitative practice that unfairly screens low-income and high-potential young people out of our profession.

For the employer:

  • Interns perform work of demonstrable value for their employers and so the employer must recognize the value and commitment that interns bring to their workplace – and pay them accordingly.
  • Employers can achieve productivity gains through their access to short-term labour.
  • Employers who offer paid internships will attract a larger complement of qualified applicants.
  • Employers with a policy and practice of fair treatment of interns builds a positive brand and image for their organization – which also leads to a good talent pipeline for future requirements.
Read Testimonials, here. 


For students:

  • Paying students for work they have done increases the level of engagement and commitment for both students and employers. While observation and modelling are certainly ways in which students learn, learning is enhanced when it is supplemented with active engagement in real work with peers, supervisors and mentors.
  • The barriers facing young people, including those from racialized and marginalized communities, are significant and unpaid internships compound these inequities. As Statistics Canada reports, half of college students aged 17–24 are engaged in some form of work. As such, an unpaid internship is not available to those who must hold jobs to support themselves financially.
  • The prospect of managing expenses for housing, travel and food, while not earning any income, causes enormous strain on the students and can drive students out of their educational program.
Read Testimonials, here. 


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