Volunteering and internship

      On the Romanian job market, the concept of “volunteering” is often confused with the concept of “internship”.

    The first represents the voluntary activity of any physical person who wants to get involved in different projects (social, educational etc.) under the NGOs management (non-governmental organization), without having a material benefit. Volunteering activity is often a state of accomplishment or fulfillment in one’s life, as he wishes to feel more “useful” or trustworthy.

    The second concept, the internship, represents an activity organized by companies, translated into an easy way to employ a person for a contracted period when the business needs new ideas or goes through a busy period. Though in most Western states, these internships mean also paying money to a person (the intern), the concept is not governed by law on the Romanian job market, thereby, most companies use this situation favourably and offer unpaid internships.

    An internship programme means also a more rigorous selection process, similar to a traditional process for employment, so the candidate must pass through several selection stages (different tests, interviews). Of course, an internship is a chance offered to a candidate (often a student) to gain professional experience, to learn about labour market, to become responsible and to prepare himself for a future career (but, in these cases, one can access practice stages, stages that are governed by law in Romania and can even mean conclusion of an employment contract). The problem arises when the student finishes his studies, the responsibilities increase, also the expenses, and he cannot spend one month or even a six months period within a company that cannot offer him a real chance of employment with suitable benefits. The internship programme can be paid (but lesser than the normal salary level) or unpaid.

    This concept requires a clear and fast legal regulation in Romania so the confusions cease and offer real help to young people who are in their final years or have finished their higher education grade, and cannot always benefit from a consistent financial aid from relatives. The internship is a law niche that tends to exploit young people’s skills and does not correctly compensate the boost of ideas and energy they provide.

   Silvia Podarascu, BIA Consultant

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