Archive for September, 2009

Who are you to judge, Snooty McSmugarse?

Everyone hates unemployed people. “Sponging off the state” you might hear them say, with their Marks and Spencer shopping bags filled with swanky dead animals you never knew were edible. “Lazy scum” scream others from their shiny hybrid Mercs. “The shit on the sole of society’s shoe” yells the conservative voter in the corner there, with his rich daddy who got him his first job in the big wide world and still buys his underwear for him.

Get over it, we’re not all that bad.

It’s not as if I’m unemployed through choice. I mean, I know it’s my fault, I picked a stupid university course to study, an overpriced city to live and study in and a rubbish trade to try and earn my living, that being the scabies-riddled shit heap world of journalism.

Plus, Jesus, didn’t I time it well? Let’s graduate in an economic crisis, the one time when magazines and publishers don’t want to take risks, when employers are downsizing and the only people getting jobs are old timers with cobwebs up their arses and significantly more substance on their hand-written, coffee stained CVs.

I’m not bitter - much. It’s just lame when people pass judgement without actually knowing how difficult the situation is. Some people have worked hard and done well, notably the more talented, well-organised and better connected females with much prettier faces, and the people who aren’t reserved, mumbling, pessimistic arseholes like yours truly.

So when employed friends or family give me stick for not being employed I tend to let it slide. Or force myself to realise they’re only trying to help, without realising all they’re actually doing is coming across as patronising little buggers. There’s not always a simple enough solution to people’s recommendations of “just get off your dirty arse and get a bloody job” …just what the hell do you think I’ve been trying to do all this time?

So what happens? You start doing unpaid internships where you’re sat in the corner of a poorly ventilated room, doing everyone else’s unwanted dirty work and watching them reap the rewards in the form of a monthly wage. It’s all in the name of experience, right? Yeah, sure, here’s a list of all the things I’ve ever learnt from internships and work experience placements:

1) Papercuts hurt like fuck

2) Hot water hurts like fuck

3) Spitting in your editor’s tea will make the days go faster*

4) Stealing is really, really fun and makes you feel A LOT better

Number two is actually a little harsh, as two of the internships I’ve done have actually been awesome (stand up Artrocker Magazine and Rocket PR – you guys are safe, this doesn’t apply to you, I’d never spit in your tea), but the rest of them, especially anything based anywhere around Oxford Street, you’re a bunch of goons.

The other thing that really grinds my gears (lame Family Guy reference, I’m just as bad as the rest of them, sorry) are people that work in the job centre. I thought it was the sensible option to go on the dole. I get £52 a week, which ain’t exactly helpful, but the people in there seem to think they’re the love child of Sir Alan Sugar and Simon Cowell.

Yes, this did actually happen

Yes, this did actually happen

Here’s an example; I was two minutes late for my last sign on – which I cunningly blamed on the Sittingbourne buses that plod along the roads like a bunch of dying raccoons who’ve accidently munched a few skag needles. And oh my, the looks I get walking in there. Waving through the groups of chav scum loitering by the door (you know, the types that still sniff glue and hold their ball sacks all day), the eyes given to me by coffee slurping ‘big shots’ in that building tear through my wirey frame like a flaming samurai sword slicing through a plastic bowl of piss.

My fellow job centre peoples

My fellow job centre peoples

It’s like they’re supposed to be big shots. They’ve got their jobs and we’re causing them some sort of inconvenience for not having jobs and requiring their help. They act like they shouldn’t have to be there. But wait, hang on, don’t they need us just as much as we need them? I mean, fuck, if there weren’t any jobless people there’d be no need for the job centres, so don’t look down on me like I’m causing you problems, arsewipe. I’m giving you work to do so you can feed your inbred children, so do your job and help find me a job rather than jabbering on to eachother about how you think you might be going through the menopause or some shit. Ah thank you!

Plus who are you to judge, Snooty McSmugarse? You work in a bloody job centre. I think that means a nice old ‘nuff said’ is in order.

So sod you lot. As soon as I get a job I’m posting a card through their letter box with some scribbles simply saying “cunts”, poorly scrawled with my own poo, of course.

Brad x

This article originally appeared on Brad’s blog and if you’re twitter inclined then follow him there.

Nick Clegg: 800,000 internships

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has said the temporary VAT cut should be ended immediately to pay for up to 800,000 young people to do work internships.

Funding internships, that sounds a novel idea. Perhaps he could implement that for his own party?

This is part of the Lib Dems policy paper: A Lifeboat for a Lost Generation. It’s actually pretty good.

Meanwhile Suzanne Moore writes:

Young people I know who have been trying to get fairly basic jobs in restaurants, pubs and shops have been told that no one wants to see their carefully presented CVs.

Applications for internships or work placements arrive in massive quantities. When people offering themselves for free cannot be employed – and here we are talking about kids from well-off families – we need to think again.

Time out: Interim interning

The Guardian profiles a women called Anneka Dawson, a 25-year-old student at the University of Sussex who is halfway through a three-year PhD on child development, funded by the Economic and Society Research Council (ESRC).

She has just returned to her studies, following a three-month internship with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), which she believes will stand her career prospects in good stead. “In future, I would really like to work with a children’s charity,” she explains. “So this was really good for me. I gained insider knowledge about how the voluntary sector works and I got help and advice on how to join a voluntary organisation. I met a lot of people, both inside the organisation and at conferences, and having that experience on the CV is really good, because this sector is now really competitive, even for volunteering, so it’s good to have something to make you stand out and show how dedicated and enthusiastic you are.”

The internship was funded by her existing funder, the ESRC, and Dawson has been able to add a three-month extension to the end of her PhD funding, so she hasn’t had to lose any time from her studies. During the internship Dawson moved from her home in Brighton to live with her parents, within easy commuting distance of London. The ESRC paid her travel costs and would have paid accommodation costs, had that been necessary.

“It was a very different environment and I needed to learn a lot quickly, but that was a good challenge,” she says.

All right if you can get the funding.

Lib Dem PPC Pays Minimum Wage to Intern after being challenged on NMW Laws

A small victory for those who think MPs Interns should receive minimum wage. Reported in a Cornwall regional paper this morning: the Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate for Truro and Falmouth has been forced to withdraw a job advertisement for a full-time intern because it flouted government regulations on work and pay.

The advert she submitted is very similar to many others MPs use. It’s an interesting precedent. And for those that say young people will be missing out on opportunities by limiting the number of internships – the position is not disappearing – but will now be paid.

The concept of “volunteering” is so problematic, because young people are aware that they must do work like this to build a career. Interns cannot work any hours they choose, or refuse task, or they risk a good reference. Never mind the exclusion of those who can not afford to work for free.

Continue reading ‘Lib Dem PPC Pays Minimum Wage to Intern after being challenged on NMW Laws’

Westminster Internships: Start Looking Early

westminsterLike so many people at university I started to think about what career path I would take. I looked at a number of different jobs, like management, law and politics. The one job I kept coming back to was political research, so after doing a lot of research I found the best way into the political field was to undertake an internship with an MP or public affairs group. 

Continue reading ‘Westminster Internships: Start Looking Early’

Even prostitutes get paid…

I’ve been working as an “intern”, (or if you prefer, substitute the usual ‘unpaid, unappreciated, exploited office helot without whom the entire company would implode’) in a business organisation  for the past 3 months. Technically, I should be getting some specific experience and in fairness I have been, for a given value of ‘some’. The trouble is all the other stuff I’ve been asked to do. Like organise and book my boss’s holiday, book restaurants for his friends, find tickets for shows, go to the supermarket, squeeze fruit into juice for 5 hours for a cocktail party etc etc. My boss once made me go to the cash machine, and honestly I have never been so tempted to commit a crime in my life.

The most recent outrage He Who Must Not Be Named has perpetrated was to ask me to track down a certain kind of foodstuff as a gift for some friends: and this item, believe you me, is rare as hen’s teeth. Probably rarer. So I call up Harrods, Harvey Nicks, Selfridges, all the major supermarkets and some of the minor ones too. No go. Then I trawl through the internet. No luck, except a cash and carry who demand you buy 100 of them. For a moment I’m tempted to do so, just to see his face as 100 of the dratted things are unloaded into my his hallway. Most people by this stage would give up, but my boss is made of sterner stuff; that sort of attitude did not win us the Empire. No lily-livered surrender for them. He Who Must Not Be Named resembles an angry deity, propitiated only by the sacrificial sweat of their workforce. Boss decides that the thing to do is to ring up the factory where it’s made –in China.  He reasons that everybody speaks English these days so they must have someone who can help. With some scepticism I call them, and sure enough the person on the other end of the line has no idea what I’m saying and eventually I thank them for their time (in English, since my school didn’t stretch to Mandarin) and hang up. I’m told to send an email, which I duly do. This saga has started to haunt my waking and sleeping: I’m so irrationally stressed about it that I’m almost weeping in frustration. This is compounded by being sent texts about it at 9pm on a Sunday evening, for example.

I have a Master’s degree from Durham and this is what I’m reduced to. Like an idiot, or a masochist, I take it, partly because I’ve been brought up to be helpful and partly because I’m so desperate for a job now that I’d probably Morris dance naked on the House of Commons roof if it meant someone would offer me one. I’m terrified that any refusal will lead to a terrible reference, so my boss can dangle the prospect of a permanent position at the end of this stint (which, incidentally, has no official end date, so I could be working for free forever or until I find another job), ensuring that I never refuse to do anything, no matter how absurd or mundane. In the meantime I am effectively paying, since I have to pay for my own travel expenses, to have my dignity and self-respect peeled away, layer by layer, as though flayed alive. Even prostitutes get paid for their services; interns have to pay their punters. And meanwhile employers still want their pound of graduate flesh, and we still give it to them.

I want a cocktail

I want a cocktail

RESULTS OF OUR SURVEY SO FAR- 63 interns tell us how it was for them

Survey of Unpaid Parliamentary Interns

Whether it lead to your dream job or you ended up feeling exploited, whether you added to your skills set or spent 3 months stuffing envelopes, whether you ran the office or were barely noticed- it’s all in our survey…take a look!

Continue reading ‘RESULTS OF OUR SURVEY SO FAR- 63 interns tell us how it was for them’

Can’t do an internship? Don’t Panic

Many people feel that doing an internship is the only way to gain useful experience in their preferred area of work. The trouble is, internships often demand a full-time commitment and many last for at least 3 months, if not 6 or 12. They might not give you the experiences you crave and although a name on your CV is useful, internships are not the only way you can demonstrate a commitment to your chosen field of work.

For example, if you want to stop human rights abuses around the world why not see what organizations in your local community are doing. For example, Crossroads women’s centre in Kentish Town has a number of projects that are run by volunteers, from supporting asylum seekers with their cases, to drawing attention to the negative aspects of prostitution law.  Other organizations might need volunteers to visit detention centres, befriend and advocate for individual asylum seekers and help with their PR and campaigning.

Continue reading ‘Can’t do an internship? Don’t Panic’

7 month itch

I have been running this website with my trusted co-founder since March, so for about 7 months. We originally set it up to do research not to bolster strong opinions- we didn’t have any opinions in March, we just wanted to find out how many interns there were, what they did, whether they enjoyed it and whether internships lead to jobs.  So far we can’t really suggest any watertight conclusions but here are some I thought of anyway. They apply to unpaid positions.

Internships come in all shapes and sizes: some are eminently reasonable and turn out to be really useful experiences for the interns, some are just criminal, exploitative and wrong.

People often do internships to find out what they want to do, to test the water- there is certainly a demand for commitment free work-experience-taster-sessions and I wouldn’t want to discourage employers from providing experiences like this. Of course the length of a taster session is certainly equal to or significantly shorter than 3 months and must be conducted in relatively flexible terms, i.e., the intern can work part time.

Continue reading ‘7 month itch’

BBC call for interns

Another day, another request for interns- this time from the lovely BBC:

Are you doing or have you recently done unpaid work experience or an unpaid internship?

I am a researcher at the BBC currently looking at the issue in light of the credit crunch. I’m trying to get in contact with anyone who may have had a bad experience in this area. If this is you or someone you know, please contact me by email at:, on 0161 244 3931 or 07810 855 315.



To work for free or not to work for free…

Lots of people email us their thoughts on internships. Some with more clarity than others:

If all of you guys who work for free for these companies said I am not going to work for free; then one of two things will happen.  You will get paid because they need  you, or you will get laid off because they don’t.  If they pay you, you know you are doing a worthwhile job if you get laid off it was not a job you wanted anyway because it would never pay for you!  Personally I think you are mad working for nothing, it demeans you and proves the company isn’t worth working for.

Pretty clear I think. If you have any thoughts, comment away or drop us an email.

We need to recognise the value young talent

As an ex head of department of fashion and textiles at UK and USA universities I am all for gaining experience through practice in an industrial context. Having said that it should be during the period of ones degree, not after their studies as graduates. 

Students of art and design are now clients, they come into education with a purpose, to gain knowledge and skills and develop an intellectual agility in preparation for their future career. With luck they fine tune creativity to a point where an innovative approaches to problem solving is second nature. 

With most students struggling to maintain their studies in a climate of financial constraint, often living below the national poverty line, it would be criminal for educational establishments not to provide a placement program of some description during the three or four year study period. I have always been of the opinion that during this placement period some sort of remuneration is required whether a small salary or reimbursement of expenses, even students have to eat and pay their rent and not all are blessed with wealthy parents. 

The provision of a placement program during study not only provides the student with an attractive CV, it also develops a discourse between industry and education that in turn can provide many other benefits not necessarily apparent at the time. I just wish that government bodies where more supportive of our young thinkers as they are the future for societal, economic and creative innovation.

This comment originally appeared on the Creative Review website.

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