Tom Leonard: It now costs a small fortune to work for nothing

Paying for the right to work for nothing is one of the more interesting economic concepts to have come out of this downturn. Time was in the US when spring would come and a young man’s fancy turned lightly to thoughts of a summer internship. Every year, hundreds of thousands of students migrate to the big cities over the long break to get their first step on the career ladder with a few weeks of negligibly (if at all) remunerated filing, dogsbodying and sporadic sexual harassment.

 

 One might have expected this sort of chattel system to thrive in a recession but, apparently, quite the opposite. There is so much competition for internships that some parents – those, it must be said, of the controlling “helicopter” persuasion – are reaching for their chequebooks. Others are hiring consultants to promote their little darlings by sending a blizzard of CV-shots to likely targets.

 

Meanwhile, fund-raising websites have reported a sharp increase in supposedly sexy media companies – including Rolling Stone and Elle magazines, and Atlantic Records – auctioning their internships. A week polishing CD boxes for a music-production company went last month for $12,000.

 

 

Some say companies are waking up to a whole new revenue stream and creating internships just to raise money – surely just the sort of exciting, creative thinking we need to get ourselves out of this mess

 

 

This article originally appeared in the Telegraph.

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