Unpaid Internships in Kenya
By Tabitha Makumi
It’s almost unheard off. In most cases you move upwards and never look back. But not for one 22 year old Samuel Mwendwa who is willing to take a few steps back and start afresh. His words, not mine.
“I might sound ungrateful for giving up a paying job while everyone is searching for one but with time I have come to realize that it’s not always about the money,” he shares in an email.
Here is more of his email, albeit edited.
“6 months ago after graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science, I was lucky enough to land a graphics design job with a printing company. I am great at designing although most of it is self taught.
After interning for 3 months with a small stipend of Ksh10, 000, in December I was confirmed and my salary was raised to Ksh25, 000.
Back in December, the offer seemed great but my senses are slowly kicking in. Why should I be in a field I didn’t study for at the expense of my degree?
I have since been searching for IT internships and graduate trainee opportunities with SME’s and I am ready to leave my current job any day any time.
Fortunately, I don’t have any financial responsibilities since I live with my older brother and the move won’t affect me as much.
I recently shared this intended move with a couple of friends who have been job searching since graduation and the feedback hasn’t been encouraging. “You are making a grave mistake,” “Who cares if the job is in line of what you studied or not? Seems to be kind of responses I have been getting so far.
Which begs the question, should I leave a paying job for unpaid internship in my area of study?
What’s your advice for Samuel?
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