Rashmi Bansal’s Facebook post about looking for an apprentice received backlash, but she says it is all a misunderstanding.
Ever since Rashmi Bansal put up a post on Facebook about hiring a full-time intern last week, she has polarised the Internet.
Apart from enlisting the job requirements, her post read, “I am looking for a hungry and foolish young person who would like to work as my apprentice. This will involve research, fact-checking, handling my audio and video files, their transcription, accompanying me for interviews. It is a full-time job based in Mumbai and will also entail travelling both within the city and outside. What you get in return is a chance to learn everything I know — what they don’t tell you about writing, publishing at any media school or B-school. You will get credit in my next book. And you will get a small stipend (but apply only if you would have worked, even for free! because I want to see that kind of passion and devotion).” (sic)
Her post was met with backlash almost immediately, with a lot of people commenting that despite it being a creative field, people needed to fill their stomachs and pay rents as well, and that it was wrong to expect young people, who are just starting out with their careers, to work for free, in exchange for experience.
Rashmi says when she put up this post on Facebook, she was definite about paying a stipend, but the commenters didn’t get that. “I am not forcing anyone to take up this offer. In fact, I never wanted anyone to work for me for free — I was willing to pay a stipend in return,” she says.
The author adds that the comment section went berserk without taking the efforts for understanding or even reading what she had typed out. “I explained myself three times, but it almost feels like no one wants to read it — they just attacked me,” she groans.
One argument is that even big corporations practice the exercise of not paying interns. However, Rashmi explains that apprenticeship and internship are two different things. “Apprenticeship is a very old phenomenon and it involves a lot of effort from my side as well.”
Anand Neelakantan, author of Asura, doesn’t see anything wrong with Rashmi’s requirement for an intern. “Forget writing or any other creative field, even if one wants to become a carpenter, it is necessary that they learn the tricks of the trade from an experienced carpenter. Or for that matter, being a mechanic — you can’t just get a degree and get a job for yourself immediately,” he explains.
He adds that today, most successful writers don’t even have a creative writing degree; they hold engineering or a business degree. “So if someone wants to really know what it takes to be a writer, why not work with an established writer as an apprentice?” he casually questions.
Author Kiran Manral also doesn’t see a problem with Rashmi’s post; what she didn’t agree with is the time it required. “An internship that lasts for one or two months doesn’t take much from anyone. But, working for an entire year without a stipend might get extremely difficult for the person in question,” she says, adding that basic expenses need to be compensated.
Rashmi brings up the degree point herself. “We have reached a stage where we are willing to spend a lot of money for really expensive degrees. But once the degree is obtained, will one be immediately worth that much? That is the question,” she concludes.