Switzerland ranks among the richest countries in the world by any measure, and so it's understandable why David Hyde, the 22-year-old New Zealander working at the United Nations in Geneva, might have to resort to living in a tent while serving out his six month unpaid internship.
Speaking to the Tribune de Genève, Hyde recounted a recent night where a storm poured in while he slept in his tent overlooking Lake Geneva near the UN Beach Club; the next morning, he put on his uniform and headed to work.
"I didn't pick the most waterproof tent in the store," Hyde tells the Tribune.
Hyde points out that it'd be impossible for someone to afford to live as an unpaid intern in Switzerland without significant support from their parents, effectively keeping the gates to prestigious professions open only to the wealthy, a sentiment all too familiar in the United States.
“How do the others do it?” he asked of the dozens of interns who take six-month positions at the UN in Geneva without a salary. “Finally only those with parents who can pay have a chance.”
In a truly sad moment, Hyde laments seeing his co-workers partying on the beach near where his tent sits.
A spokesman from the UN told the Tribune that it's up to each particular internship program to determine whether interns are paid or not; evidently, in 2013, 68.5 percent of Geneva-based UN interns went unpaid. Fusion has reached out to the UN for comment and will update if we hear back.
Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.