Archive for February, 2011

Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole said to have accidentally fired at Loughborough sports science intern at training ground

Police are to investigate reports that Ashley Cole accidentally shot and wounded a 21-year-old student with an air rifle at Chelsea football club’s training ground.

A Surrey police spokesman confimed that the force would be in touch with the club after a report that the England international fired the weapon at the man at close range on Sunday last week at the training facility at Cobham.

This takes the exploitation of interns to a whole new level!


Unpaid internships break the law but only 12% of managers know it

Internocracy have carried out some fantastic research with YouGov (polling 1,858 adults) to find out how many people know that unpaid internships break the law.

  • Just 12% of managers understand that companies may be breaking the law if they offer unpaid placements
  • 60% of people who have heard of internships think that companies exploit interns as a source of free labour
  • only 10% of under-35s who have heard of internships know their rights when it comes to working as an unpaid intern

Internocracy will be releasing a full report with further figures on The State of Internships in the UK on March 7.


We get plugged in the Sunday Times

Another fantastic weekend’s coverage for unpaid internships.

The Mail have followed up on last Sunday’s scoop that the Tories were flogging city internships to raise party funds.

David Cameron is to ban internships with top City firms being sold for thousands of pounds to wealthy Conservative supporters for their children after the practice was exposed by The Mail on Sunday.

They quote a senior Tory aide who said:

You can rest assured that this kind of auction will not be part of next year’s event. It was badly misjudged.

Misjudged? It goes to the very core of what is wrong with the graduate job market at the moment.

In the story the Mail quote the email we leaked in 2009 which revealed Philip Hammond as is poisonous best:

Tory Cabinet Minister Philip Hammond has defended using an unpaid intern alongside salaried staff, saying in a leaked email in 2009: ‘I would regard it as an abuse of taxpayer funding to pay for something that is available for nothing and which other MPs are obtaining for nothing.’

Other coverage this weekend includes the fantastic campaign group Intern Aware getting plugged on the Today programme. Listen here 1 hour 56 minutes in.

And finally Interns Anonymous’ own Alex Try got quoted in the Sunday Times. Jamie Oliver has apparently claimed our generation are “too wet to work”. He obviously hasn’t met any of the thousands of people slaving away at unpaid internships.

Graduates are also struggling to land proper jobs even after working for free. Alex Try, who graduated with a 2.1 in history from Manchester University in 2008, said: “Jamie Oliver doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” He argued that tens of thousands of well qualified young people are fighting so hard to get jobs that they are working without pay, either as “interns” or on “work experience” placements.

Try, who co-founded the Interns Anonymous website because so many of his friends were having to work for nothing, believes the phenomenon is eroding jobs.

“Entry-level jobs are being replaced by unpaid internships,” he said. “This isn’t just in desirable industries — you are seeing it in all sorts of firms, even people being PAs.”

It is an insidious development, he believes, because most internships do not lead to proper employment. It was only late last year that Try finally landed a full-time post after moving to London.

Phew! Role on next weekend!


No soon have I written this that we spot our friends Internocracy on the BBC News channel. More great exposure!

The Tragic Case of the Perrenial Intern

In 2009 I graduated in Philosophy from a ‘red brick’ university. In hindsight I can concede that throughout my education my attitudes towards finding work were naive and ill informed. Like many young people I made the decision to study my subject of choice aged 17-18. As we know the economy was then in a rather healthier state, meaning that for a number of years graduates from good universities in all subjects had encountered less trouble finding employment. Consequently the advice I received from school and home was to either choose a subject which would lead directly to a career I was keen to pursue, or if I did not yet have a particular career in mind, to study a subject I had enjoyed at school. I chose the latter - accepting the prevailing “any degree is a good degree” philosophy.

Upon graduating I immediately began teaching English as a second language at a school in my home city of Manchester. I knew this was not a long term solution and began to look into a career in the media. I stopped teaching and began writing to local newspapers eventually securing a two week internship with a regional magazine near my home. This was my first taste of working as an unpaid intern and it was not especially interesting. The editor rarely gave me any work to do so I spent most of my time staring at a computer screen, browsing the Internet. It was not entirely useless and I could have perhaps been more proactive, however I sensed a mutual understanding that I was to stay out of the way as far as possible.

After failing to secure any more journalism experience in Manchester I eventually got another two week internship for a small charity working as a ‘social media intern.’ Once again I quickly understood my role and kept out of the way. This was my least productive experience in terms of skills gained - the tasks I was given were so pointless and mundane that I didn’t feel I learned anything. By this point I was beginning to feel demoralised.

Some time later I got the opportunity to intern as a Media Assistant for a national campaign. I worked closely with the regional coordinator and felt the experience was positive. I gained real skills including pitching to the media, writing press releases, communicating with MPs and I was paid a daily stipend of £10 on top of expenses. The internship lasted 3 months and by the end I felt more confident about securing paid work. However this proved difficult and I soon began to feel that I had exhausted most of my opportunities in Manchester.

Up until this point I had been living with my parents and I was fortunate that they were willing to support me financially when a month later I secured another three month internship with a PR firm in London. I fully expected this to be my last - in part because the firm had assured me there was a high probability that I would be offered a job at the end of the period. The interview had been ridiculously and unnecessarily gruelling so I was surprised to discover I was merely the latest addition to a team of four graduates in a press office run almost exclusively on intern power. Unfortunately, the office was lead by a most patronising and disagreeable woman who was of a similar age to the rest of us and appeared to delight in making us feel worthless and subordinate.

In one sense the experience was positive as I gained important media and public relations experience, yet much of it was self taught and I was offered little training or support. Naturally all the interns felt a little exploited when, one by one, we were told the firm could not afford to take us on when our respective three month periods expired. Evidently they had never intended to offer us proper employment, a fact which did not hit me as hard as one of the other interns who had left a good job for the opportunity of a career break in communications. To date this is my first and only experience of blatant and unadulterated dishonesty. I made a personal pledge not to apply for any more internships so as to avoid becoming yet another tragic case of the perennial intern.

Since then three months have passed and I have been unable to secure a job despite attending several interviews. At the time of writing I am about to embark on yet another internship. Nevertheless I am positive about the future. I feel liberated from my previously unrealistic career expectations and have undoubtedly learned a lot in the past year and a half. It is not that I no longer retain the same ambitions as before rather that now I realise how hard I will have to work to realise them, and how much time it will take.

My experience as an intern has been mixed. I have gained some good skills and like most I have had some unpleasant experiences. However I think it would be unfair and ungrateful of me to express bitterness - though I have in the past. Pursuing a career you like is not easy and nor should it be. There is a sense in which many graduates had unrealistic hopes about the ease with which they would walk into the career of their dreams. These were largely fuelled by the advice of previous generations who had lived and worked through happier times. The recession took many by surprise but we should remember that the healthy state of the economy which preceded it was abnormal, as was the ease with which middle class graduates, particularly in the arts, secured employment. I think that those campaigning for the rights of interns are fighting a noble cause - the system is in many ways profoundly unjust. I also think that interns (myself included) should refrain from expressing the sort of bitterness which could be and is often interpreted as privileged whining (‘I didn’t complete my degree to make coffee!’) - not least because it is counter productive to the wider cause, that of improving social mobility.

Incredible! Internships raised twice at Prime Ministers Questions today!

First Milliband challenged the PM on selling city internships then Hazel Blears popped up to praise an internship scheme run in Parliament which pays the London Living Wage.

Have a gander here.

Mapping Unpaid Interns

As part of a project on the exploitation of interns the fantastic Rebecca Hughes has been mapping every unpaid intern ad posted by an MP since January. The map speaks for itself, with every party, from every part of the country implicated. It’s a fantastic visual use of data.

Check out her website here.

View MPs and constituencies adverting for unpaid interns in a larger map

Remember what Philip Hammond said about unpaid internships…

It seems an appropriate time to remind ourselves what Tory transport secretary Philip Hammond said about unpaid internships, and the flouting of NMW law in his own office, a year or so ago:

[it’s] an abuse of tax-payers funding to pay for something that is available for nothing

Will Labour take advantage of the Tory internships scandal?

Highly unlikely. Patrick O’Flynn the chief political correspondent of the Daily Express said on twitter that:

This is the most compelling political story of the day. Will Labour spot it and exploit it to the full?

I doubt that very much, because a host of Labour MPs are currently advertising for unpaid intern posts. Just leaf through the job adverts on W4MP. It would be a fantastic argument to take to middle Britain. Sadly their own hypocrisy and flouting of minimum wage law leaves them silent. Even the Statesman, which is run on unpaid labour, has written about the story. The best line of the day has to go to Andrew Marr. He commented on his show this morning:

This money is going to be used by the Conservative party, presumably, to tell us we’re all in it together.

You can watch it 10 minutes 50 seconds in here.

Daily Mail knocks Tory internships auction

From the Daily Mail:

David Cameron was accused of ‘gross insensitivity’ last night after it was revealed that internships with City hedge funds were sold to wealthy Tories’ children for thousands of pounds to raise cash for the party.

At the Conservatives’ Black and White Party, millionaire Tory supporters paid around £3,000 each for their children to have the golden chance of spending a week or two with a number of top finance companies and banks. If they do well and win a full-time job, they could join the ranks of City tycoons who earn multi-million pound bonuses.

But Labour claimed the auction was ‘grossly insensitive’ when tens of thousands of young people cannot obtain jobs.

More great publicity challenging the crime that is unpaid internships. With graduate unemployment getting higher and higher this issue is not going to go away.

I think its really interesting that the Mail is writing about this issue more consistently than any other paper. I know this is a issue about social justice and fair pay, but this is not just about poor kids versus rich kids. The vast majority of graduates are effected. You might term yourself middle class, and your parents might live in the nice house and have two cars. But that doesn’t mean they can support you working for free in London for 6 months.


Andrew Neil has blogged about the story.

Our letter to IPSA protesting unpaid parliamentary internships

On Friday 11th February Interns Anonymous and Intern Aware submitted a joint response to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority which regulates MPs Expenses. We considered the legal position of unpaid interns, whether internships hinder social mobility and whether internships are discriminatory.

Calling upon the latest case law, our own surveys and academic research we argue:

-    That nearly all Parliamentary interns are performing work and are therefore due the National Minimum Wage.
-    That internships exclude too many and shrink the gene pool of those able to work for MPs.
-    That since the resources necessary to undertake internships (access to contacts, access to London and access to money) are not equally distributed amongst people from different ethnic backgrounds and those with a disabilities, internships are a form of indirect discrimination. Consequently, any decision to continue to allow unpaid internships is incompatible with IPSA’s obligations under the Equality Act to promote equality of opportunity for all.

Our submission ends by concluding that:

We believe the best way to ensure that politics as a career is open to all and to ensure that MPs have excellent candidates to call upon when recruiting staff is for the present system to be abolished and replaced with paid apprenticeships run over the summer and Easter recesses [so student accommodation can be utilised for those not currently living in London].

To read our submission in full click here: Letter from Intern Aware and Interns Anonymous to IPSA

Students protest against ‘Modern Slavery’

Students at the University of Westminster support Intern Aware’s campaign against unpaid internships.

A survey taken by over 220 students at the University of Westminster revealed that 83% of the students who had undertaken internships weren’t paid. Margaret Simonowicz, herself a student intern who didn’t have enough money to buy herself food, is raising awareness among fellow students. “The serious issues caused by unpaid internships have been in the public eye for more than a year and still nothing has been done about it. People still aren’t aware that unpaid internships are, in most cases, illegal” she said.


Life is like a coliseum, you never know what you're going to get

Andy Burnham mentioned unpaid internships in the HofC tonight

With many thanks to Kerry McCarthy MP for recording:

Charlotte Leslie (Bristol North West) (Con): Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise the massive gap between state education and private education in securing the top jobs in this country? Does he recognise that private schools offer more academic qualifications and that by not enabling state schools to offer those academic qualifications he is essentially relegating state school pupils from those top jobs?

Andy Burnham: I do not accept the hon. Lady’s analysis. I went from a state school to Cambridge and my dad said to me, “It will open every door for you in life. You will just walk into any job you want.” He said that because I took some persuading to go, as I was not convinced that it would be for me. My dad was wrong, because it did not open every door. It is the networks and the conversations around the dinner party table that open the doors to those top jobs. I am talking about the people who can sort out two weeks’ work experience in the holiday period, because that is what gets people through. What further restricts opportunities for young people is the culture of unpaid internships, where young people are expected to come to London to work for free. That is beyond the reach of many working-class young people in this country, who simply cannot afford to work for free for three months in London. That is what ensures that the top jobs remain in the reach of a small social circle, as the BBC creatively and accurately reported last week.

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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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