The young New Zealander forced to sleep in a tent in Geneva has quit his prestigious but unpaid internship at the United Nations.
The plight of David Hyde featured on the front page of a Swiss newspaper on Tuesday (Wednesday NZ Time) and on Wednesday (Thursday NZT), the 22-year-old from Christchurch told journalists outside the gates of the UN’s European headquarters he had decided to resign.
“It’s my own decision and I chose to resign because I felt that it would be too difficult to continue to focus on my work as an intern at this stage,” said Hyde, who started his internship two weeks ago, AFP reported.
A photo of him standing in a suit, UN badge around his neck, next to a small tent and rolled up foam mattress near Lake Geneva, caused outrage and an outpouring of offers of accommodation, according to the Tribune de Geneve, which broke the story.
He described the excitement at home when he was accepted to the prestigious position, but said his family was unaware of his precarious situation in the Swiss city, where rents are among the highest in the world, AFP reported.
“I just want to make it clear that no person forced me to sleep in a tent, but rather my circumstances and the conditions for this internship made it the only real possibility that I could see,” he told reporters.
Hyde acknowledged lying during his internship interview when asked whether he would be able to support himself during his stay in Geneva, AFP reported.
But he said he had previously answered that question truthfully and had found all doors closed to him.
“The UN was clear about their intern policy from the start: No wage or stipend, no transport help, no food allowance, no health assistance. I understood this, and in that regard, I have to take responsibility for taking the internship in the first place,” he said during the media scrum.
But Hyde called for the UN to change its policies.
“I do not feel that this is a fair system,” he said, urging interns worldwide to “push for the recognition of our value and the equal rights that we deserve.”
I’m not sure such a sense of entitlement is going to be of great assistance to Mr Hyde in the future.
As he said, the UN makes very clear that you do not get paid. The reason so many people want to be an intern is it gives them experience which helps you get paid jobs in the future.
If being an unpaid intern isn’t appealing to you, well then don’t apply to be one. Apply for a paid UN job.