Dear all, I justed posted a reply to the following post.

This is not to attack Search for Common Ground which is doing great work! It is very sad and frustrating to see that many IOs and NGOs are only offering unpaid internships. In most cases such internships do not even meet the minimal criteria of the definition of an internship, that is supervised practical training. It is very sad to see that many IOs and NGOs are using interns as very cheap substitutes for regular staff.

I am aware that many employers argue that unpaid internships offer priceless work experience that will help the interns to land great jobs over the long run. However, more and more international organizations and NGOs replace regular staff positions with unpaid interns. Why should an organization pay a regular salary if it can get a highly motivated and qualified student for free? Over the long term unpaid internships are doing more harm than good. If we do not want jobs in development and peace to be dominated by people  who were lucky and rich enough to be in a position to afford unpaid internships with IOs or NGOs in expensive places like Washington D.C., NYC, Brussels, London, Geneva or Bonn we should publicly criticize such practices on a regular basis. Many organizations working in peace and development are successfully applying name and shame policies. Before trying to change the world we should think about how to change our behavior at home. It would therefore be of great help for future generations of highly motivated and qualified peace and conflict staff, if the members of the PCDN publicly criticize unpaid internships when announced on the PCDN network.

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Comment by Tome Sandevski on January 12, 2012 at 8:50am

Dear Craig,


I definitely do not want to hurt the PCDN network and this is my last post on the issue of unpaid internships. You are absolutely right in stressing that there are simply not enough positions available in cr, but unpaid internship are only aggravating the problem. Because unpaid internships are common does not make them right.


It is very frustrating to see that organizations that want to improve the world are aggravating legal and ethical standards within their own organizations. Public protests and naming and shaming policies do have positive effects. It is encouraging to see that more and more students are publicly criticizing unpaid internships. Some interesting links:


CR and development organizations should led by example, before criticizing problems elsewhere.

Comment by Craig Zelizer on January 11, 2012 at 7:25pm

I understand your concern, but I think part of the challenge is there are so many people who want to go into the cr field and not as many positions. The unpaid internships (there are some paid) is a factor in many sectors of development so I would not single out cr. There are also sometimes creative ways to get funding for internships from a university, scholarship, etc. You're welcome to post critiques, but please do not start posting these on specific internships as this would lead organizations to stop posting which would hurt PCDN overall.

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