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“Are interns cheap labour?” M’sian Calls Out Companies That Underpay Their Interns



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Source: Unsplash|Akson & Freepik

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If you’re a university student, chances are you’ve probably been required to do an internship in order to graduate. However, we’ve all recognised the disappointment of seeing some companies and even government agencies who expect students to work for them completely free of charge. Students started seeing some changes when former Youth and Sports Minister, Syed Saddiq brought up this issue in the Parliament and demanded students to be paid for their internships but it looks like right now some companies have fallen back to their old habits.

Facebook user Ir Abdul Rahman shared an encounter he had with a friend who’s an entrepreneur and his company consists of permanent workers and interns.

Young Asian Businessman Job Interview With Woman Office 97712 242

When asked what were the interns’ job scope, his friend said that they have the same job scope as his permanent workers. “It’s training, after all, so need to give the students real work, only then they can learn,” he said.

The interns’ job scope includes:

  • Working from 8am to 5pm
  • They will need to reach a target KPI
  • If they don’t perform or have any disciplinary issue, action will be taken against them.

The friend said that the interns’ will be paid RM400 monthly for their work. Rahman got curious as to how a student can survive with RM400 monthly, he did the math estimate for an intern student who doesn’t live with their family and it’s as follow:

  • Room rent=RM200
  • Transportation = RM24 a week if the student uses a motorcycle
  • Weekdays meal which consists of Breakfast (Bread & Water =RM30/month) and Lunch (Nasi campur = RM100/month) which comes up to RM130 a month

This gives a balance of RM46 from their RM400 salary and Rahman deduced that the student will just resort to eating instant noodles for the weekend.

“So, do intern students nowadays need to work double jobs to stay afloat? Those with their own vehicles would probably have to do delivery services to earn more money.”


Relating to his own internship period, Rahman said he used to earn RM200 which was just enough to cover his transportation fee as he lived with his parents and the place he worked was quite far from where he was living. When he questioned his friend about the low salary, his friend simply said that this is what an internship is all about, you don’t only learn about job training but also how to survive.

” I understand you only pay RM400 as your company is still small. But I just want to ask, if you could afford to pay more, would you pay more than RM400? You said just now that the job scope for an intern is almost the same as a permanent staff.”

When he asked his friend this, he wasn’t able to provide an answer which led Rahman to ask a simple question, do companies take advantage of students doing their internship as cheap labour?

Interns, always make sure to recognise your value in a company. If you feel the company would not function without your presence, you’re not being appreciated, you’re being exploited.


Also read: “Hi, I want to become your intern” Local Company Shares The ‘Best’ Resume They’ve Ever Seen


Source: Freepik
Source: SAS

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