Why #unicorn internships?

Research in Serbia has shown that young people have positive attitudes towards internships, but that 50% of young people were in a program of a non-mentoring internship program, 78% took part in a non-contractual internship program, and even 90% of the interns were not paid. Such data is not surprising given the findings of the Belgrade Open School analysis, which indicate that there is no adequate contractual form in Serbia for regulating the relationship between those who are offering internship program and interns and that there are no mechanisms for ensuring the quality of internship.Do internships for youth in Serbia have enough quality? What aspects need to be improved? What can we say about intern’s stories? What do experts suggest we do to improve the legal framework for quality internships? These are just some of the questions we discussed with the goal of finding the best solution to improve state of internships.

Jelena Manic Radoicic, manager of Belgrade Open School, made opening remarks where she stated the importance of quality internships as a mechanism for faster employment. Afterwards, discussion began with young panelists who analyzed main difficulties they were faced with during their first experience as interns. Highlight of discussion was that even though their stories were different, they lacked some important aspects of quality internships. It was necessary to regulate internships through changes in the legal system. Afterwards, expert and lawyer Dr. Mario Reljanovic introduced a proposal of normative changes in the regimes of internships, which initiated a constructive discussion with the goal of finding a best solution for key stakeholders in this process. Participants presented their opinion of creating a contract for internships and agreed that internships have a great deal of value for youth. The importance of further analysis and discussion on this subject was emphasized.

Even though internships in Serbia are widely spread, our legal framework does not recognize a legal and contractual obligation between an intern and employer. Whereat elements of quality internships contain contractual relationship, mentorship, some kind of financial motivation, a good internship is, like a unicorn, impossible to find.

Therefore the main symbol of this year’s campaign is a #unicorn. We believe that internships are a valuable experience for professional development of young people, so unicorns have a strong message – quality internship shapes a young individual to be special and unique on the labour market, and contribute to development of their environment.