Archive for July, 2010

Save BBC Blast

Journalist Laura Snapes has written a great article on her blog about why BBC Blast, a paid work experience scheme, should be saved from the corporations cost-cutting axe.

It gives opportunities to young people right across the country to make their first steps in journalism… and no doubt played a founding role in landing Laura her dream job at NME.

This is what she has to say about her experience:

In May 2005 I was appointed BBC Cornwall’s Blast Reporter, which entailed spending the summer running my own section of the BBC Cornwall website. I interviewed bands, jewellery designers and the inventor of the first biodegradable surfboard, took photos of the Eden Sessions and played at being a real journalist for the summer. The same scheme went on in the majority of the BBC’s local newsrooms. With our sections being primarily arts-based and aimed at fellow teenagers, our duty as reporters was to file at least one article and diary entry per week in exchange for rigorous BBC training in internet content management systems, professional recording equipment, and safety procedures.

And this on the real impact of the BBC decision:

… the people who will miss Blast – in particular its work experience placements and free event and workshop tours – are a group chronically underserved by commercial media, which is in complete antithesis to the BBC’s justification for proposing various closures on account of intruding on the competition. That group includes young people in geographically remote areas, away from the London-centric media world – regions like Cornwall, where there are very few other opportunities for teenagers to get experience in the limited local press that exists here. It includes kids whose parents/aunties/godfathers aren’t industry highflyers, able to wangle their progeny work experience placements on account of the family name; kids who wouldn’t make it to Oxbridge – still renowned for giving applicants a leg-up into the Beeb – but who nonetheless have incredible skills to offer. Blast is open to kids from any social background, making them feel comfortable in a very middle class industry, and the application process is the same as any fair, equal opportunities job application – proving that you’re worthy of the job because of your enthusiasm and achievements.

Why would the BBC be cutting BLAST at a time when job opportunities for young people are so limited and the current internship culture so often benefits those with money or geographically based in London? Also why did 6 Music get so much attention and this didn’t! Read the full article here. And if you tweet (we really should more.. then join the twitter campaign here).

Labour leadership candidates pledge to support interns

The campaign group Intern Aware have taken advantage of the Labour
leadership battle to get the candidates to commit to enforcing
national minimum wage for interns. They are asking all contenders to
sign this pledge:

If I am elected leader of the Labour Party I will campaign for Labour’s Minimum Wage Act to be fully enforced so that employers must pay their interns what they are due.

So far a rather dapper looking Andy Burnham has signed it, and the Milibands have agreed to as well. No news on Ed Balls… and Diane Abbott would be a suprise because we have heard the number of unpaid interns she has could reach double figures! One spoke to us recently to say she worked unpaid for a year and a half before being given a paid role. Real social justice there Diane, you hypocrite.

On the campaign, I think it’s a great idea to use this attempted renewal of the Labour Party to get interns on the agenda. With more young people graduating in a tough economic climate, it’s time politicians enforced the national minimum wage laws they themselves brought in. Intern Aware need to be congratulated for taking this to the top.

An internship, what is it?

We have been pointed in the direction of a blog by a guy called Martyn Rosney, who hits the nail on the head describing PR internships.

Recently having finished the taught part of my post graduate course I am now in that limbo between the taught section and the thesis submission deadline of my Masters. I was “lucky” enough to secure an “internship”. I was asked to do it for three months with the possibility of a job at the end of it. The remuneration would not even cover the cost of the Luas back and forth from the job. I would learn invaluable skills and get hands on experience. This was not the crux of the internship offer though. I was assured that this three month trial period was not just to see if I was suited to the organisation but more importantly if the organisation was suited to me. What type of industry are we in that a company will offer someone the opportunity to work pro gratis to see if the organisation is suited to the individual. Can you imagine if McDonalds applied this formula? “Well done you are now a member of the McDonalds team but first we would like you to work for free for three months just to make sure that the organisation is suited to you?”

Read the rest.

More news from Westminster

Newbie Labour MP Luciana Berger has tabled this question to the Leader of the House:

To ask the Leader of the House, if he will bring forward proposals to establish a fund for payment of interns working for hon. Members.

Written Questions: Notices given on Wednesday 21 July

Let’s wait and see what the response will be. Hopefully it will arrive before the summer hols.

MPs admit Wesminster internships break NMW laws…

and ask parliamentary authorities to do something about it…

This Early Day Motion has just been published:


That this House notes with grave concern the reduced employment terms and conditions for staff of hon. Members under the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) expenses scheme; recognises the real terms reduction in hon. Members’ staffing budgets and urges IPSA to raise the staffing limit for hon. Members in the forthcoming review; further notes that redundancy rights have been reduced to a statutory basis, removing discretion to reward loyalty; further notes that hon. Members are also prevented from rewarding good performance through bonus payments to staff; urges IPSA to work towards the creation of a human resources department; further urges IPSA to reconsider the decision no longer to deduct trade union subscriptions at payroll; calls on IPSA to amend the expenses scheme so that payments related to maternity leave and cover can be made from a separate budget and not treated as contingencies; further recognises that in practice many Parliamentary internships qualify for the national minimum wage and further urges IPSA to create an interns fund fairly to pay them; further recognises that public anger at the previous expenses scheme was not due to staff costs and therefore opposes any arbitrary publication of staff salary details; and further urges IPSA to work alongside the Unite Parliamentary Staff Branch and other staff associations to resolve these issues.

and these MPs have signed it:

Jack Dromey
John Cryer
Bob Russell
Grahame M. Morris
Mr Peter Bone
Teresa Pearce
Ian Lavery
Kelvin Hopkins
Mr Michael Meacher
Pamela Nash
Luciana Berger
Mr Andy Slaughter
Andrew Gwynne
Mark Durkan

Interestingly Andy Slaughter is a serial user (or is it abuser) of unpaid interns. See here, here and here.

Broken Promises

I took part in the campaign running up to the General Election and beyond as an unpaid intern for five months. I was promised a job if we win, which we did, but my only reward for my hard work was a “strong reference” that is yet to materialise. I worked an average six days a week, 10-12 hours a day in the first four month and around 100 hours a week in the last month (short campaign). I not only had fix tasks to do but had managerial status and sole responsibility for one aspect of the campaign that involved the coordination of around 200 people. I was provided with accommodation and a lunch allowance but the five months had other expenses too. It did cost me in the end and this put me in a difficult financial situation, not having a regular income for more then half year now. I was not offered a job in spite of promises, am yet to find employment and do not receive any help from the now Member of Parliament.

Continue reading ‘Broken Promises’

Sign of the times: intern advisor

I have recently been consulted on my internship ‘expertise’ by the organisation I am working for. Having done several internship programmes in my bid to further my career, I unwittingly found myself being able to give advice on the one area of expertise I had built up – ‘being an intern’.

Continue reading ‘Sign of the times: intern advisor’

Question: What do Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband have in common?

Answer: They were both interns for Christopher Hitchens at the Nation magazine in New York.

From George Eaton’s recent Q and A with the Hitch…

Q: When you were at the Nation, Ed Miliband was your intern. What are your memories of him?

A: We talked a lot about the old left and his father’s distinguished role in it. His brother’s middle name is Wright after the socialist C. Wright Mills, a great friend of Ralph’s.

Don’t you feel enlightened! We wrote about Clegg and internships here. 

It’s not what you know…

Here everyone is mostly concerned about interns having to work for free. Well, frankly, I don’t mind it at all. Not that my financial situation is amazing- it is actually rather awful. I just think when there is a will, there is a way - one can always work evenings and weekends to pay the bills. Working 2 jobs is, of course, never easy, but the experience you get from the internship is worth it.

I don’t mind that interns have to spend quite a share of their time on administrative duties. No one gets fancy degrees thinking they will be printing out hand outs or staffing envelopes, but it is the rule of the game and you’ve got to learn to respect it and try to get something positive from it.

What I do mind though is something that I don’t see discussed too often in the Media - the tremendous role of “glass ceiling” involved in securing the internship…

Continue reading ‘It’s not what you know…’

Guardian Debate

Last week one of the Interns Anonymous team took part in a Guardian podcast debate on unpaid internships. 

You can hear all the action at this link. Our discussion with Ben Rosen of Inspiring Interns starts about 15 minutes in. Enjoy!

Within the Walls of Westminster

I undertook an internship this year through February and March, based in a Conservative MP’s Westminster office. It was an amazing opportunity to experience how politics looks and functions at national level. After getting over the initial feeling of being overwhelmed by the many famous faces you see all around you, it didn’t take me long to realise that I had some challenging work in store.

I felt like I fitted in very nicely to the office environment that the MP had created. It was fast paced and there was absolutely no margin for mistakes or misinformation. One of my first duties was to compose replies for my MP to sign that signalled a polite decline to the many invitations he received to events and exhibitions. This task was expanded when I was given the responsibility to reply to various constituent concerns ranging from benefits, to anger at the length of queues at passport control. Often these concerns were difficult to reply to directly so I would then have to take the path of contacting the Ministers who were concerned (e.g. Phil Woolas Immigration Minister at the time).

Continue reading ‘Within the Walls of Westminster’

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.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 60 other followers


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 60 other followers

Powered by