A bit of perspective

We wanted to repost this comment as a blog in its own right:

I’m 29 now, with enough experience behind me to work as a freelancer for a comfortable day rate, and with the experience and company insights only afforded to those who work in lots of different agencies over the years.

I started off interning (for free) back in the day, but I’ll come to that. At the moment my sister has just finished her degree and is currently experiencing the wonders and horrors of the world of fashion PR.

She left her first internship last week after being hauled into the MD’s office, sworn at, and told ‘now f**k off and don’t cry’. This was the accumulation of weeks of abuse – simply because she was an intern, and if under contract could have hauled this horrible creature straight to a tribunal. So until she was told to get lost, she stuffed envelopes, cleaned out cupboards and photocopied. The rest of the staff ignored her, and she was even told not to put sugar in her tea because ’sugar isn’t for interns – it’s just for us and the clients’.

When she was asked to leave, she was told it was because she’d been asking for more work and this was not something they could offer her – ‘all our interns do is photocopy and stuff envelopes, so if you don’t like it, i suggest you f**k off’.

Through the grapevine she’s heard she was not the first to be treated this way for asking for more to do.

I think there’s very fine line between companies using an intern – essentially someone who may have the capabilities but who does not have the experience – to gain exposure to an agency environment and learn about how agency-life operates, and those who treat their interns as second class citizens, purely because they can.

From my own experience, in both my working life and as an intern (for a high-end fashion house) – there are always agencies who treat their staff badly and those who don’t – at all levels and rungs of the ladder. I’ve had the pleasure of working for pretty much all of them – from those who have allowed superiors to bully me, to those who have made my job the most enjoyable and inspiring thing in the world.

Although an internship is the very first step (and praise to those who can get and keep a good one in this economic climate), you will no doubt be given jobs you feel are not within your remit (as you will during paid work). Although some unhappy worker bees may tell you otherwise, the agency you are working for should encourage a friendly, supportive and approachable environment you should look forward to working at each day. If it doesn’t then get your CV out there and look for something else. You have nothing to lose and believe me – there are other opportunities out there!

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