Exploitation in the name of enriched experienceAs I perused over many job offering advertisements, I was reminded of a famous episode from “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” As a punishment Tom and Huckleberry were ordered to paint the fence in white. They tricked their friends to trade the privilege of doing the work by pretending that it was a fun task. Their friends completed the task by even offering presents to the boys. After the laborious job was packaged as a great play, it became a charming product. Of course, the episode can be seen as a clever trick of children, but the job offerings to university students are unfair because it is a trick used by the older generation to cheat the young people in their 20s.
Recently, the performance team of the musical “Les Miserables” posted a notice to recruit volunteers and faced criticisms. The job was to work six days a week - including the weekend - from late March to early September, but the payment was ridiculous. The company offered to pay for transportation fees for the commute and a certificate of employment. Many Internet users criticized the firm for trying to find free labor while it planned to perform a piece that was about the tragedy and revolution of laborers.
Even if it were a normal labor market, no one would have signed up for the job, but youngsters starved for experiences probably applied for the job despite the unfair condition. It is easy to imagine there would be so many similar or worse jobs if we take into account the ones we don’t even know about.
It is also a problem in other industries. Companies are operating intern systems to save their cost, and various supporter systems are tools of free promotion. Internships are so common that almost all university students have an experience interning before they find a paying job.
The young people are forced to provide their labor at a cheap price because the society wants more and more career experiences. But the employers are abusing the system by sugarcoating the free labor as experience. After criticisms, “Les Miserables” team posted an apology that it wanted to provide the experience to more youngsters.
It is great that youngsters are not obsessed with money and show passion, but it is terrible that the older generation is buying their passion at a ridiculously cheap price.
I hate seeing the society that abuses the youngsters’ passion and energy while tell them that is a natural part of being young.
* Lee Seul-gi, A public administration student at Hankook University of Foreign Studies.
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