Archive for August, 2009

The pub quiz saved my life

My advice to anyone reading this- do your damn internships during your university holidays. The financial support you have from your loan at least gives you the guarantee of some money when you start term again. Doing an internship after university is more of a lottery. There is no guarantee that it will lead to a job, and little chance of income if you don’t work like the devil on evenings and weekends or have family to support you.

I’ve spent the last 6 months doing two internships, one for a charity and one for an MP and I’ve really enjoyed both of them. They have boosted my confidence, given me the chance to meet lots of interesting people and I have genuinely learnt a lot. They also represent my commitment- hopefully someone looking at my CV will think, ‘yes he knows what he wants to do - he’s spent 6 months trying to prove it with internships’. But financing them has been tough.

For my MP I worked from 9:30 or 10 in the morning till often 7 at night. Then I would tube around London to any one of innumerable pub quizzes I host each night to make ends meat. I would often be home after 12. This isn’t to make a stoke broker’s wage – this is just to scrape by.

pub quiz winners looking happy

pub quiz winners looking happy

Continue reading ‘The pub quiz saved my life’

If people want to work unpaid, we shouldn’t stop them

I have read some of the articles about interns and I do agree that you need resources to be able to do an unpaid internship for any length of time and this does discriminate against less privileged members of society. However, in my area of work with international students, we find that internships are so important to them, they will save money from their student jobs and do menial jobs at weekends, whilst doing placements, in order to be able to fund the experience.

It is increasingly evident that without experience, it is very difficult to get career progression, particularly in industries like the Arts, Media, Finance etc. Unpaid experience is often the only way to bolster a C.V. and give the graduate a chance to get on the first rung of their chosen career ladder. Large companies do have structured placement schemes and many can afford to pay minimum wage, but for most small and medium sized enterprises, paying an intern is beyond their budget. Employers also feel that time is needed to dedicate to raw recruits and that the experience they will have will be invaluable and build up much needed practical knowledge, work skills and understanding of business.

Continue reading ‘If people want to work unpaid, we shouldn’t stop them’

I don’t see a penny of it

I am 23 years old, graduated two years ago and am currently on my second internship. I do a full 42.5 hour week for a public affairs organisation, and I pretty much get given anything that’s going spare….in short I’m completely disillusioned with the political scene.

I am proud that we have a minimum wage in this country, however a lot of companies bypass the law by offering “internships” which amount to unpaid full time work. I am doing this internship in a desperate attempt to get some paid work. I am in a very bad financial situation because of it, and I’m unsure how I will pay my rent and other bills at the end of next month. Something seems seriously wrong about this, I have a degree yet I’m only good enough to work for free? Where else in the world would refined educated knowledge go for free? 

The company I currently work for clearly need the labour, they’re just not prepared to pay for it. The work that I do for free is sent to a paying client and I don’t see a penny of it. I don’t see how this can be legal and I don’t understand why no one has done anything to rectify it. In light of this could someone please provide an answer to the following questions:

Is the concept of an “internship” legal?

If not, can I claim any money from my employer?

Will anyone adhere to or enforce this country’s minimum wage rules and stop this blatant exploitation of young labour?

A bubble bursting?

The Guardian “expose” of the Internship culture was brilliant. A front page headline and couple of inside pages devoted to an issue we have been banging on about for months and months.

When we started this website we wanted to get a conversation going about the merits and ethics of unpaid work. I think this moved on to a new level at the weekend.

One of the best stories to come out of the coverage concerned our foreign secretary, David Miliband.

Last month, the foreign secretary advertised for an intern who would be based in Westminster for a maximum of four months, with duties including database management, office support and administration and policy research.

His office was questioned about whether his intern should be paid the minimum wage because of the fact that there appeared to be set tasks.

The advert was removed the following day. The reason given: “Too many applications already.”

An email from Miliband’s office stated: “Following your inquiry we have asked for clarification on the position of internships in MPs’ offices. If there is any breach of minimum wage regulations we will act immediately to rectify the situation.”

On his personal website, Miliband talks about the importance of the national minimum wage. He said: “Everyone should earn a fair wage for a fair day’s work, there is no excuse not to pay up.”

We have always assumed the reason why so many interns ply their trade in Westminster without proper regulation is because the MPs have never stopped and thought about the morals of getting young people to work for months without pay. I have never met Mr Miliband, but I assume he is a decent man. Just completely out of touch, living in his Westminster/North London bubble, where rent and job frustrations aren’t even a consideration. Being confronted like this is a wake up call – and maybe the beginning of the bubble bursting.

Tell us YOUR story

We have had plenty of traffic so far today- thanks in no small part to the Guardian article about internships which links to us. We will be posting about the article in due course.

If you are a first time visitor to our site (or a regular and need reminding) – the reason we set the website up is for interns to describe their experiences of unpaid work and their frustrations at the graduate job market. 

SO. If you are an intern or ex-intern please write to us and tell us your story. We will post your experiences anonymously on the blog homepage, and we can try and build a better picture of the internship culture which exists in our country.

Email your stories to


The Interns Anonymous Team

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Interns Anonymous

We want this website to be a forum for interns to share their experiences and discuss the ethics of unpaid employment. Most importantly, we want this site to be a place where YOU can tell us your story.


Interns Anonymous accept no responsibility for the contents of the blog, comments or any other content on this site that is posted or provided by third parties. This website is designed to act as a forum for interns to share experiences and opinions about their work, therefore, we will not censor opinions we do not agree with. The opinions stated in blog contributions do not represent those of Interns Anonymous. We disclaim all liability for such content to the fullest extent permitted by law. If you have any queries please email us.

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