U.N. Intern Lived In A Tent Because He Couldn't Afford Accommodations

Earlier this week, David Hyde, 22, found himself inundated with media attention after it was discovered he had been living in a small tent on Lake Geneva because he couldn't afford housing while working an unpaid internship at the U.N. On August 12, Hyde made headlines again for his very public resignation, The Guardian reports.

Hyde, who hails from New Zealand, made his resignation announcement outside the gates of the U.N. He explained his motive for leaving but also conceded he had been fully aware that the U.N.'s internship program provided no wage or stipend, no transport help, no food allowance, and no health assistance. "It’s my own decision," Hyde said of leaving his position, "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."
Advertisement

Hyde also assured onlookers and media outlets that the U.N. had neither forced him to sleep in the tent nor pressured him to leave the internship. "My circumstances and the conditions for this internship made it the only real possibility that I could see," Hyde told the Tribune de Genève of his out-of-doors accommodations. (Geneva, which sits in the southwest of Switzerland, is known to have extraordinarily high rents.)

David's mother, Vicki Hyde, told Stuff New Zealand that her family was only partially surprised by her son's choice of living space. She also described David's "strong view on principles and how people should be treated."

Hyde explained that when he first began interviewing for internships, companies routinely asked if he could afford to fully fund himself for the duration of the program. When he replied with the honest answer, "no," he was rejected.

"So when I applied for this role at the UN," Hyde said, "I did not truly disclose my own financial situation. I said I had enough to support myself, when really I didn't. And I got the job."

However, Hyde urged the media to pay less attention to his particular situation and to instead focus on the trend of unpaid internships. In the U.S., there's been a rash of class-action lawsuits by interns against their employers. Just this week, the Olsen twins' company, Dualstar Entertainment, was sued by 40 past and present interns for back pay.

"Call me young and call me idealistic, but...I do not feel that this is a fair system," Hyde said in his speech. "Interns all over the world need to come together and push for the recognition of our value and our equal rights that we deserve... I hope to see the United Nations become a role model for all on the issue of internships in the future."
Advertisement

More from Work & Money

Four years ago, my life was exactly where I wanted it: I was working as a senior editor at a major glossy magazine. My first young adult novel had just ...
After months of waiting and countless discussions about what the future holds for our favorite television characters, Shondaland shows are finally back. ...
Just after my son’s first birthday, I was on the phone with my mom, grappling over a gut-wrenching decision. I was scheduled to go on a business trip but...
Refinery29 joined the Clinton Foundation for a tour of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to get a firsthand look at the experiences of the women and girls who live ...
I get so nervous before job interviews — sweaty palms, dry mouth, butterflies in my stomach. It’s really not fun. But once I’m sitting down with the ...
Fifty percent off your purchase here. 1,000 free miles there. When it comes to credit cards, the benefits are easy to see — while the downsides are often ...
As the host of RIOT's Woke Bae, we already know comedian Phoebe Robinson is funny AF while getting serious about major issues like feminism and ...
You know what's easy? Spending money. It's the best way to get what you want right now. Except...this is not sustainable. Those little luxuries add up ...
If the new phrase for the office BFF is the "work wife," then is a good boss or mentor your "work mom" or "work dad"? Part authority figure, part dispenser...
12:45 p.m. — I have a dryer, rare in Shanghai, so my friend runs home to get his laundry and then does a load at my place
Ah, the job interview. Getting one always feels like a win — your résumé passed the test, and you've moved on to the next round. Writing the cover letter...
Working in the service industry is an easy way to get an (often unwanted!) glimpse into other people's personal lives. Whether you waited tables at a ...
Recently, I was reminiscing about my financial education. Or maybe I should put that in quotes: “financial education.” In 10th grade, we created a budget ...
11 p.m. — Make some more bad decisions and send a text for delivery of some illicit substances but he misses my text, which is probably a good thing ...