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July 2014    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 29, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Divemasters Wanted: You Pay Us to Work Here

from the July, 2014 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

It seems that to get a solid job in a major industry -- law, investment banking, even in environmental organizations or on Capitol Hill -- young folks have to serve as unpaid interns between school terms, or even for a year after graduation. But there's no job guaranteed at the end of it. No wonder there's a move afoot to recognize that this is a sly way for big employers to get unpaid help from talented people with enough financial resources to volunteer. Ross Perlin, author of Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy, calls it "a racket, not an opportunity."

Interesting that it has come to the dive industry as well. In Costa Rica, Rocket Frog Divers offers a divemaster internship program that "prepares our interns for a life full of fun and adventure working in the diving industry. We do much more than teach you to dive . . . We introduce our interns to dealing with customers in the shop, on the boat and in the water. You will also learn a lot about working on the boat, in the pool, around the shop and at the compressor. All things that will make you highly employable when you start searching for your first job."

Their first intern, Jonnie Rowe (they call him Shaggy), stuck around to develop the program, which, he says, has had "pretty much an even mix of Americans, Canadians, Brits and two local Costa Ricans. Interns actually pay us in the range of $700, depending on their current PADI certification. We don't offer room and board, but we arrange it at a very reasonable rate of around $200 per month. And they live with only other interns. They always love it and get a whole lot of experience in the water, on the boat, in the shop and in the bar most of the time . . ."

Exploitation? Sure, in that interns pay for their certifications while busting their humps schlepping tanks, scrubbing down the pool and sweeping out the heads, hopefully learning a few things about divemastering and customer service along the way. And good for Rocket Frog. They don't have to hire any local kids who could really use the money. Nonetheless, for divemaster trainees from the First World, you can bet it's a lot more fun than trying to keep their heads above water interning in a Wall Street derivatives department, though it's unlikely that was an option they had considered. So, you want to send your kid or grandkid? Here's the application ( www.scuba-dive-costa-rica.com/divemaster-internship )

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