Archive for December, 2010

Tory PR problems

I can’t help but notice that the Tories are having a difficult week leading up to Christmas.

Maybe their press office has gone on holiday and left the intern in charge?

YES - the Tory Press Office has unpaid interns. Perhaps they’re not the party of the rich after all… you would think they would afford to pay their staff given how much they receive in donations.

Please submit a CV and covering letter, including availability, to
Louisa Watts, CCHQ Press Office, 30 Millbank, SW1P 4DP
or by e-mail to

I’m going to drop Louisa an email and tell her she is breaking minimum wage law. I suggest you do the same. Or perhaps someone upset about tuition fees could try and get hired and cause a bit of chaos from the inside.

Is the Home Office abusing unpaid interns?

Lib Dem MP Bob Russell tabled a motion saying that “those undertaking work experience should not be offered jobs that would otherwise be filled by paid employees.”

The Home Office were allegedly employing 20 interns while making staff redundant.

This situation is not new and has been happening across every industry since we set up this blog. The first example we heard of was a commercial art gallery which sacked its lowest level of staff and gave their unpaid interns all their responsibilities.

The interns working for the Home Office were working in the UK’s main office for immigration and asylum enquiries.

HAT TIP - People Management magazine

Support Left Foot Forward’s Living Wage Appeal

Left Foot Forward have launched an appeal to pay their interns a London living wage through contributions from their readers. Anything that raises the issue of interns pay and ends up with interns paid for the work they do is fantastic in our opinion.

All progressives should pay their interns a fair wage and all those that care about youth unemployment and low pay should get behind this appeal.

You cannot claim to care about these crucial issues if you are ignoring inequality and injustice in your own office.

We all know the so called progressive organisations that don’t pay minimum wage… perhaps you could name them… I will kick off with the New Statesman!

We made it into Private Eye…

Author of Jilted Generation (and friend of interns) Shiv Malik injured covering student protests


Freelance journalist Shiv Malik has been injured while reporting for the Guardian at today’s student protests over university tuition fees in London.

Ed Howker, a journalist who writes for the Spectator and co-author with Malik of the book Jilted Generation, told that Malik had been taken to hospital and was having his head stitched after allegedly being hit by a police baton.

According to a report by Malik published on the Guardian’s protest liveblog, he was wounded while caught between the police line and students in Parliament Square at the the junction with Victoria Street.

Shiv and Ed plugged our site in his book. It really is worth a read. We hope he gets better soon.

Did we ever post this funny intern vid from the TUC?

Why employers shouldn’t get something for nothing

A nice article in the Belfast Telegraph today…

Slavery was supposed to have been abolished in 1833, and yet it is very much alive in the workplace today. One of the grimmest and most iniquitous consequences of the recession has been the impact it has had on the hopes and aspirations of young people.

And one of the most cynical responses to this has been the way so many companies, many operating in the field of PR and lobbying, are supplementing their workforces by taking on young graduates as ‘interns’.


Well said Nick Garbutt for spreading the word!

Some lessons I have learned

I have a BA Hons degree in International Politics, and a Masters degree in Chinese Politics. I have been trying to pursue work primarily as a researcher, though I’ve applied for other opportunities that only barely correspond with my line of study.

In the last year, I have interned at two separate companies with very different standings. One was a UK wide charity, and the other a political pressure group running a campaign in the lead up to the last election. Although both my jobs were very different in their day to day responsibilities, I have found that there are many parallels between my two experiences. Rather than bore anyone with tales of the particular ins and outs of the jobs I did, I feel it would be more appropriate to keep this brief and try and impart some of the lessons I learned.

In both instances, while I did the right thing and was polite and gracious and thankful for the opportunity, I should have been much more forthright. Stand up for yourself.

Never forget that the employer would not be taking you on if they weren’t getting something out of it. This is not work experience, they are taking you on for a reason. Be grateful, but don’t be fooled into thinking you’re a charity case.

Make sure and forewarn your employer at your internship that they are inevitably going to receive a lot of requests for references from every job you subsequently apply for. Don’t be embarrassed to use up your goodwill, you worked hard for pennies in order to earn that reference.

Where possible, try and choose the name of the job that you do yourself. I describe my two positions as ‘Research intern’ and ‘Campaigns intern’ which are deliberately broad so as to be applicable to the maximum number of positions in the future.

Do not let an employer overpromise and underdeliver. If they say they’re going to give you training, or teach you how to do something, make sure they do. Hold them to it; they owe you that at least. In one of my internships the ‘Media training’ I was often promised was eventually scheduled on the one day in an entire month that I had informed head office that I couldn’t do. I was furious, but there was nothing I could do about it.

You will be expected to do menial and mundane tasks – filing, data entry, this sort of thing – this is par for the course. Do a good job and show that you can follow instructions and be part of a team. However, don’t be taken advantage of. You need to be able to learn how to do more than the basic things for your internship to have any value.

Don’t be afraid to claim things on expenses. I was too shy to claim things – silly things, such as balloons for a campaign event, or bus tickets if staying late made you miss a train. Don’t take advantage of expenses but don’t get ripped off.

The most important piece of advice I can give you is unfortunately the grimmest one, and that is, don’t presume that your Internship will lead directly to a job, either with the employer, or elsewhere. Sadly in my experience I’ve found that two long unpaid internships has not increased my employment chances, at least in terms of job opportunities since. What you need to do, and what I should have done better, was focus on genuinely gaining tangible skills that you need to do work in your field. Try and gain the confidence from completing tasks that you wouldn’t otherwise have been able to do. Be as selfish as you can and remember that the only reason you took a job for no money was to come out of it at the other side with better employment chances.

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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