A little bit of media coverage

Never shy of sticking our heads above the parapet, Interns Anonymous has been involved in two media features in as many days.

We helped with the research for this great New Statesman article by Rowenna Davis.

Charlie Sonnex works the night shift at Sainsbury’s. Last year, he worked next to Andy Coulson, the Conservatives’ director of communications, as an intern at the party’s headquarters in Westminster. He wanted to stay on, but after nine months of working unpaid, he couldn’t afford it. “All the interns there had rich parents and savings, so I guess the office just had enough applications to keep it going.

Sound familiar? If so why not take our survey for parliamentary interns?

The NS isn’t adverse to hiring unpaid interns itself. The phrase “run on free labour” has crossed our path before. Good on them for the publishing this article though.

We can also be seen discussing internships and social mobility on an episode of Working Lunch (no longer presented by Adrian Chiles, much to my disappointment). See Tuesday’s episode, about 8 minutes in.

Does an internship lead to a job: new survey for all ex-interns

Have you been an intern? Did you get a job or are you unemployed? Are you trapped in an intern cycle?

Whatever state you’re in, if you have been an intern in any sector, please do this survey! Click here to take survey, or visit our surveys page.

NUJ to update work experience/intern guidelines

A new set of guidelines will soon be launched for news and media organisations that take interns and work experience students.

The guidelines, designed by the National Union of Journalists and industry training organisation Skillset, will be a guide for employers to protect young journalists from exploitation. The two groups have re-evaluated previous guidelines from 2007 in response to a rise in the number of graduates who feel compelled to work for little or no wage.

“While most people we raise this with recognise the problem exists, most are surprised by the extent to which major media organisations are relying on free labour,” said NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear last year.

A sentiment many readers of this site will agree with.

Education Secretary champions Internships – but who can afford them?

Via our friends at the Arts Group, David Lammy thinks internships are the way to solve graduate unemployment:

In response to growing concerns over graduate employment (or lack thereof) David Lammy championed Internships and volunteering as access routes into jobs:

“Of course students may be concerned, which is why we are working hard to show that real opportunities are available to them including work, further study, volunteering and Internships. Internships are great way for graduates to kick start their careers by gaining the valuable skills and work experience at a time when they face a more competitive job market.”

Yes David, ‘a great way’ for those who can afford to be exploited by organizations violating the National Minimum Wage. Thanks a bunch. Welcome to the only government who simultaneously claims to champion social mobility whilst also using unpaid work as a strategy for streaming graduates for recruitment.

Can’t really argue with that… 


Internships in Conservation

Interns Anonymous catches five minutes with another ex-intern in our continuing series of interviews. This time, we explore internships in conservation.

Interns Anonymous: You interned in the third sector. Tell me a little about it:

********: Well I was at a conservation charity for three months, and it was called an internship. It was basically an admin position.

Interns Anonymous: What did you do?

********: Filing, archiving files, moving them from paper to a computer and… that’s about it.

Interns Anonymous: What hours did you work?

********: 9 to 5, part-time, for three months.

Interns Anonymous: Did you feel like you got much out of this experience?

********: Well, I learned how to do admin. I know how to do work. I didn’t gain any skills, or qualifications which would help me get paid work in conservation.

Interns Anonymous: Was it sold to you as experience that would lead onto a paid position?

********: Definitely. Yes. That’s what they said. It will be valuable experience for charity or conservation work.

Continue reading ‘Internships in Conservation’

SURVEY UPDATE: 86 Parliamentary Interns have taken part so far!

The Jury is still out- some people have obviously had great experiences but some have developed a long lasting aversion to the political world…is it just about personality? Or do some MPs take the humiliation just that bit too far? We have included all previously collected results along with 23 extra responses.

Summary

-          55% of unpaid interns in Westminster are graduate job seekers

-          25% carry out tasks they are not comfortable with (but this can be a positive thing)

-          Only 36% had all their expenses covered.

-          60% developed new skills (but many regretted the money they had spent on this)

-          And the most positive thing- 84% believe the internship boosted their job prospects…although some ended up feeling put off:  

‘It’s hard to tell. Certainly, if I carried on within politics it might do. But having paid a couple of hundred pounds a month to go in to work and eat I am now cold towards politics as a career.’

Full results below.

Continue reading ‘SURVEY UPDATE: 86 Parliamentary Interns have taken part so far!’

Beyond Parody: Interning in the Fashion World

In our second interview with an ex-Intern, Interns Anonymous caught up with someone who had a behind the scenes look at the fashion world.  She found that working at a glamorous magazine actually wasn’t that glamorous.

Interns Anonymous: Tell me about your internship. What kind of magazine was it?

*****:  I worked for a fashion magazine. I was in the beauty department, working alongside the beauty editor and her assistant. It was unpaid…

Interns Anonymous: Did it live up to the stereotype of the fashion world?

*****:  Emphatically yes. But in different ways. It’s not as glamorous as you would think. But the people are almost like a parody of themselves. I don’t think they are very well paid, but I think they have very wealthy parents.

Continue reading ‘Beyond Parody: Interning in the Fashion World’

Coming back to haunt a newspaper near you

Spotted in the Telegraph by an eagle-eyed Dina Rickman (Dina – if you read this please write to us with your own intern experiences!) is a horrible article by journalist Celia Walden. She describes a week of torture dished out to her ‘whipping boy’ work experience-r… retribution, it seems, for her own work placements.

Once Ed had finished alphabetising a decade’s worth of business cards for me, booked reservations at the Ivy (posing as my PA) and spent an afternoon scouring London for a Tintin desk diary (A5, Ed, not A4 – back out you go, my boy), a co-worker took him home to clean out her bins.

I’m tempted to write this off as payback for the years of humiliation I endured at the hands of men during my salad days, but I suspect it’s just more fun abusing a boy – something about that Estella/Pip dynamic, perhaps.

Still, my memories of work placements aren’t exactly edifying. There was that stint on a TV listings magazine, where the boys would routinely order me to stand up on a chair and tweak the aerial. “A bit more to the left,” they’d cry out. “Nope – to the right. Now back to the left.” This would go on for some time, until one day the editor walked in on a particularly prolonged session, ordered me down from the chair and delivered a hushed rebuke – from which the only words I could make out were “Harassment Act”.

Does Ed deserve this? Is it all part of the learning curve? Or does Celia deserve a slap in the face?

Slave Labour

We have come across a great Channel 4 News clip from a couple of years ago. It’s about a young film maker called Danny Dewsbury who was exploited by the Labour Party. He spent a week travelling around the country filming cabinet ministers but wasn’t paid a penny. He wasn’t learning or shadowing – and what makes it more ironic is how proud the ministers he filmed were of the Minimum Wage.

Tessa Jowell, in one interview with him, even has a pop at “scams” whereby young people are used as “cheap labour”.

Sick of the Sunday Times

I moved back to London from my hometown last January, in a bid to pursue a budding career in journalism. I’d worked on a local paper with a decent salary and was pretty sure I could write myself out of any tight spot; so I set about lining up work experience and internships to give myself an edge.

I managed, through a friend, to get 2 weeks’ placement on the Sunday Times News Review. I arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on the Monday morning, not expecting to be given the most fascinating jobs in the world, but hoping that if I proved myself willing then I might make some useful contacts.

An ostensibly friendly woman showed me to my desk from the lobby and said somebody would be with me shortly. I waited an hour for my “boss” to turn up, who simply said to me, “do you know what you’re supposed to be doing?” When I replied that no, I had no idea what was in store for me, she sighed and set me about making lists of the day’s news stories published in all the day’s papers. She didn’t tell me how long the list was supposed to be, or give me any examples; she just barked out a simple instruction and vanished. For the rest of the week, she communicated with me only through one-sentence emails.

Continue reading ‘Sick of the Sunday Times’

Nick Clegg announces youth jobs pledge

One of his pledges concerns internships:


We will support young people while they get valuable work experience by paying anyone undertaking an internship a ‘training allowance’ of £55 a week (£5 more than JSA). This will help employers who want to offer young people work experience but cannot afford to pay them. We envisage that young people will do this for up to 3 months and receipt of the allowance will be dependent on attendance.

Is this the answer? Or another politician using ‘internships’ as a vote-winner without really knowing anything about them. I know many interns who already get £55 a week in expenses. What they really want is National Minimum Wage.

Government to create National Internship Database

Responding to middle class fears that their children are being shut out from many professions (Law, Finance, Accountancy, the Media etc), the government has announced the creation of a National Internship Database (NID) – a one-stop-shop for every unemployed graduate’s needs.

Quite where this differs from previous announcements about a national internship scheme is anyone’s guess, and I am sure none of the work placements proposed have taken into account the problems we have mentioned on this site.

  • How does creating a national database of internships solve the problem that most will be located in London and therefore only open to those who live there already or can afford to live there for months without pay?
  • Does this policy address the fact that most internships break current employment laws in that they don’t pay NMW?
  • If NMW isn’t paid… how are prospective interns going to afford these placements? Financed by a bankrupt state? Unlikely. I suspect they will follow the Milburn suggestion of making loans available for graduates. But with no guarantee of a job at the end of it, and not even an assurance of proper training, would this be £2000 well spent?

“Internship” – formally a buzzword for employers to justify cutting an entry-level position, now the inspiration for a policy dreamt up by clueless politicians. But that’s just my opinion.

Are internships the answer to our problems?

Next Page »


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