An ad seeking unpaid interns to bus tables at Vancouver's Fairmont Waterfront Hotel has sparked a debate about whether unpaid internships take advantage of students.

The ad was circulated on Twitter and was reportedly posted on the hotel's career section briefly before it was taken down.

"Exceptional service and cuisine are hallmarks of The Fairmont Waterfront dining experience," the ad reads. "As a Busperson, you will take pride in the integral role you play in supporting your Food and Beverage Colleagues and 'setting the stage' for a truly memorable meal."

'Even dishwashing, it's education. It's a lower-end job, but from there it stems to many other things.'— VCC culinary arts head John-Carlo Felicella

Twitter users responded, with a flurry of mostly negative tweets.

"Dine at the Fairmont, where breakfast for 2 may be $50+ and your busboy an unpaid intern," wrote Twitter user Norm_Farrell.

"It simply exploits the vulnerability of youth and new Canadians who are trying to enter the job market," replied Twitter user nowgreenvoter.

Twitter user TynaMcNair wrote: "I cannot think of a reason this or 'unpaid' training should be allowed in BC, unless non-profit."

College head defends unpaid internships

But John-Carlo Felicella, head of Vancouver Community College's culinary arts department, said interns often have no prior restaurant experience and internships provide them with a way to find out if they're cut out for the industry.

"Even dishwashing, it's education," he said. "It's a lower-end job, but from there it stems to many other things."

Vancouver Community College requires every restaurant to sign a contract pledging that the unpaid interns aren't taking jobs away from paid employees.

Unpaid interns are supposed to work five to 10 hours a week and can only observe and assist. B.C. law states interns cannot do actual work without pay.

CBC News contacted the Fairmont Waterfront for comment, and a spokesperson replied with an emailed statement: "As a leading hotel in the city we actively support local schools and work in partnership with them to provide opportunity and access to practical workplace experience."

fw-bc-130912-fairmont-bus-boy

This ad was circulated on Twitter. (Twitter)

With files from the CBC's Theresa Lalonde