Students are consistently told that they should do unpaid internships if they want to be able to get a “proper” paid job when they graduate. Besides the fact that it “looks great on your CV” and helps you “gain essential work experience”, it’s also very convenient labour that companies don’t have to pay for. You would think that a university, which supposedly cares about their student’s interests, would be willing to acknowledge student’s work with more than a line on a CV but also with something actually essential – money. This seems to be the case when one reads about their “paid scholarship position” of Social Media Student Officer. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
To my knowledge, a scholarship is an award or financial aid for someone to further their education. While the role of Student Officer involves “full training from UofG Social Media team”, the emphasis of this position is clearly not on education. Even if we ignore the fact that the University has gotten their wording wrong, calling this a “paid internship” would still be horrendous. Every month, the new “Social Media Student Ambassador” will have to attend a meeting with the Social Media Team, document at least one event happening at the university, develop a “news recap” for students and take over the UofG Snapchat account. In addition, this person will have to write six blog posts throughout the year, create at least one video, provide social media training for other students and continuously contribute relevant content and help to develop and maintain UofG’s social media channels. All of that for a meagre £250 per year. In addition, did I mention that this position requires you to sign a two-year contract?
Even citing this list of duties and responsibilities doesn’t fully cover the scope of the job, because social media is a 24/7 responsibility. By offering this role for people studying at their institution, the University of Glasgow once again values their image and financial gain over their students. There is a complete absence of recognition of the time and effort managing social media takes, as well as blatant exploitation. Framing this as a job would be illegal. Framing it as a scholarship is deceptive to say the very least.
The University’s motto is “World Changers Welcome”. To inspire change, their website says they are working to “empower people”. I wonder how you can empower people when you pay them a fraction of the minimum wage over a two-year period. The ambition to be a world-changing university could have been reflected in the introduction of a social media position with a fair payment, that would show other institutions that unpaid internship are a devaluation of students as well as inherently classist. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Well, at least the benefits of being a Social Media Student Ambassador include “SM Student Officer swag.” I guess that makes it all worth it.