Archive for April, 2010

It’s Grim Up North

Opera North is offering a Chorus and Orchestra Internship working within the Music Department of England’s only national opera company based in the North, for up to 11 months.

Working alongside the Chorus and Orchestra Managers, the successful applicant will provide administrative support with the opportunity to take responsibility for set projects.

Candidates must be computer literate and able to carry out varied administrative tasks with a good eye for detail. This is the ideal opportunity for anyone looking to pursue a career within arts administration.

This position is voluntary but lunch and travel expenses will be paid.

One of our readers – who wants to get into arts administration is aghast.

I would like to anonymously highlight this internship at Opera North, which came to my attention because the organisation specifically targeted postgraduate students.

It worries me greatly that such prestigious organisations think it is somehow acceptable to offer this sort of unpaid work to talented postgraduates looking to progress in arts administration. It is one thing to offer part time voluntary opportunities, or low-paid full-time work, but this full-time voluntary position guarantees that only certain types of people will be able to access this position and it completely undermines all the good work done by the national minimum wage. Talented graduates have so much to give, why are some members of staff being paid over £30k when these hard-working ‘volunteers’ will not be paid anything?

Interns Anonymous couldn’t agree more.

This will do nothing to dispel the feeling that Opera is an elitist pursuit. Who but the most privileged could afford to work a full time job without pay for 11 months? Opera North should have a lot of explaining to do.

PR lets the side down again


I thought I’d share some of my experiences with you lot…

Since graduating from a red brick uni in 2009, I have done 3 separate internships, none of which have led me to a job. I was hoping to get into the Art PR world. I am not anymore.

One of the internships was great - I was working on a broadcasting event where I was told to only work hours I could manage around part time work. I was given responsibility and was clearly a valued member of a team. In addition, my travel expenses were repaid and although I was struggling for money, as I had to cut my working hours to part time (I was also working in a call centre) I was still able to pay rent and it was definitely worth it. 

Internship number 2 was very different…

Continue reading ‘PR lets the side down again’

An uninspiring internship?

We have been critical in the past of companies like Intern Star who aim to match companies with cheap graduate labour, and make a profit as well.

Inspiring Interns is another such company – which boasts on their website of having 10+ interns working for them at any one time.

A week or so ago we received an account of an internship with them which read more like an advert. We don’t run this site to give free publicity to companies we don’t agree with, so in the interests of fairness we asked another ex-intern to write a rebuttal. Both accounts are below, and you can make up your own minds…

I am currently completing a placement at graduate internship agency called Inspiring Interns. And it’s a company that lives up to its name.

I have found that an ABB A-levels, a 2:1 from a red brick uni and a MA leaves me close, yet so far from an elusive full-time ‘graduate’ job. To my frustration even ‘graduate entry level’ jobs require experience of some sort.

Graduates are faced with a catch 22 situation. Without a job, you can’t get any experience, but without experience you can’t get a job. That’s where Inspiring Interns comes in.

They hook you up with a company who will take you on and train you. The company will pay for your travel and lunch expenses, which many scream is exploitation, but I think is the lucky break that most graduates desperately need. And it’s one of the few offers open to them. Moreover, the majority of Inspiring’s internships lead to paid, full-time roles.

After many a day looking for jobs online, I opted to work for free at Inspiring Interns because I wanted to get out of my house, and proactively do something to get a job.

I’m very lucky. I’m not on the dole. Because if I was, I wouldn’t be allowed to take up this opportunity. I’m not working in Mc Whatever to pay the rent, because I live at home. To put it simply, I’m relying on my parents. But it’s the only way I can move my life forwards.

Most people wait for lucky breaks. I went to Inspiring Interns because they bring them to you.

Across the world, millions of graduates, are sitting at home waiting for a break. They are Not in Education, Employment or Training. Having been told my parents, teachers and politicians, throughout my life that an education will get you ahead, many young people are sat at home disillusioned and depressed, or working in a McDead-end job wondering why on earth they tried so hard at getting ahead in the first place. Luckily with Inspiring Interns, I no longer need to be a NEET.

And the rebuttal:

As a recent intern with friends currently looking for internships, I have recently been made aware of an organisation called Inspiring Interns which proclaims itself as where ‘great interns meet great companies’.

It also proudly boasts that they should know about interns as they ‘typically have 10+ at a time’.

The problem with this marketing spiel is that Inspiring Interns is actually exploiting young people in order to make a quick buck in the recession. You see, none of the interns on their books seem to be paid.

Under their costs section, it details how Inspiring Interns gets £500 per month for arranging the internship – while the intern only receives £220 at most for lunch and travel expenses.

Now, I’m no expert in the legal ramifications of what this organisation does, but this looks to be clearly in breach of the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 (NMWA). By also lining up companies to take interns on which might conflict with the NMWA, Inspiring Interns doesn’t seem to be letting these companies know that they might be breaking the law by offering these internships.

On top of the very dubious work of Inspiring Interns in relation to the NMWA, the company also benefits from using the government’s very own Graduate Talent Pool to advertise these clearly exploitative positions which only a select few can afford. This is somewhat at odds with the whole ‘Backing Young Britain’ campaign the government has been running in recent months…

Oh, and BT – who recently axed their Graduate scheme – awarded Inspiring Interns a trophy for ‘Essence of the Entrepreneur’. An AWARD?! This shows how out of touch BT clearly are if they are handing out awards to people and organisations who are using the national problem of youth unemployment during the recession to make money out of skirting round the NMWA.

I hope that one day soon organisations like Inspiring Interns are not accepted by either interns looking for an internship or organisations who want to commit to offering young people an opportunity which doesn’t involve exploiting them.

Tell us what you think…

Debate about Internships in the Media

You can now check out BECTU’s debate about internships and unpaid work over at their YouTube channel. Part One below.

Interns Anonymous

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