With Pune’s student population at an all-time high, city-firms are chockfull of student interns pursuing various college degrees. We noticed a common bone of contention that all of them had on the paltry internship stipends they get.
Raveen Thupe (21), is a design intern with a city-based interior design firm. “I’m on an unpaid internship at the moment. My college mandates a two-month training before the completion of my degree. However, just as my internship period ended, my peers told me of an upcoming vacancy in the firm. Jobs are hard to come by, I know this because of my inability to find a paid internship. So, I wasn’t in favour of letting this opportunity go.
“I clung on to the two-month internship, leaving my full-time college degree midway. It’s been 6 months since I have been interning here, and now a new partner in the firm has announced a hiring freeze, so my future at the firm is uncertain,” admits Thupe who regrets quitting college on the chance that the firm would engage him after his internship.
Fahd Desadla shares similar woes of being a poorly paid intern in an alien city. Originally from Ahmedabad, the 21-year-old is studying microbiology and training at a renowned Research and Development Foundation. “Living expenses are hard to manage with a stipend of 3,000 rupees. I can’t quit, as it’s essential for my degree. This means the 6-month training is a cost to me. I have rent, food and travel expenses that total at nearly a lakh for six months.
Manisha Chauhan (20), a fellow intern agrees with Fahd. “Since we’re working close to 10 hours daily for the company, dedicating 6 months of our life, shouldn’t they be paying us a reasonable stipend ? I would settle for any sum that covers food and commute expenses at the very least,” she cries clearly agitated.
Mehvish Bohra who is pursuing her chartered accountancy says, “‘Doing CA is like committing suicide’- this is what we were told on the very first day of C.A coaching.”
The 19-year-old who is an articleship trainee tells us what is at stake. “My parents were apprehensive whether I could manage juggling studying for C.A (which is essentially a correspondence course with a rigorous syllabus) while pursuing full-time Bachelors in Commerce. So, I’m in an arrangement where passing C.A. final ensures that I get a B.Com degree from Pune university sans the added effort.
“However, this just adds to the pressure, as I can’t afford to quit my internship under any circumstances. The stipend of 1,000 per month doesn’t even cover the expenses of my monthly commute, but I must endure it. It’s just been a month now, and I have 35 months to go,” she says miserably. Mehvish admits that the real fear is failing the final 3 years down the line, as it would leave her without a B.Com degree.
Interestingly, C.A. final has a pass percentage of 11%, failing a majority of students each year after close to 5 years of overall study. Three of these years are spent interning on a stipend that is prehistoric to say the least.
Probably time for city firms to step-up and offer fair and practical stipends to students toiling full-time as their interns. If the US and other developed nations can ensure minimum wages, why cant we?
#Views expressed in this column are those of the individual respondents and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.
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