Archive for June, 2011

Underpaid and overworked?

Documentary team looking for contributors…do get in touch with them!

We are looking for current or future interns to contribute to an investigative documentary for a major broadcaster. If you’re currently working as an intern and feel you should be being paid at least the minimum wage for the work you’re doing, or you’re about to start an internship and don’t know how you’re going to afford it please get in touch with Sean at Snapper TV- or 07730575867

Survey for Interns in Europe- DO IT!

The European Youth Forum is taking the initiative and trying to improve internships ACROSS EUROPE. To do this they need to get a handle on the problem- so y’all need to tell them about it! We like people who think big so please help them by filling in their survey if you have interned or are interning…

A survey “Interns Revealed” is circulating until July 7 to collect enough responses to back the advocacy work with the very much needed numbers and statistics. Any help from your side to spread it will be greatly appreciated.  We have 2000 responses so far, only 188 from UK so we would really need you help with this.

How paid staff view interns

Currently I am reading Ross Perlin’s book while coming to the end of two 3-month part-time internships, one with a tiny NGO and the other with an MP, and trying to figure out where I go from here.

I have come to the conclusion that doing more unpaid internships after this is not a good idea because it won’t look good on my CV: people will assume that I am from a privileged background and that daddy and mummy are providing for me so I can work for free, whereas the reality is that I studied hard as an undergraduate, secured generous funding to do a PhD and, post-PhD, have some of that funding saved up to enable me to explore different career options in an economic climate where every paid job I apply to has several hundred other applicants.

With regard to the assumptions people make about interns, my experience in the MP’s office is particularly amusing. On the one hand the office relies on a steady stream of interns doing identical work to paid employees. On the other hand, I have heard the paid employees making remarks that display resentment towards “rich kids who can afford to do unpaid internships.” These remarks were not directed at me, but were directed at a particular well-known journalist who is perceived to have got to her current position after 2 years of unpaid internships. Nevertheless it struck me as particularly foolish, clumsy or rude that these remarks were made in front of me when I have contributed so much to the work of the office, and when the work of the office relies on the contributions of at least one unpaid intern at all times.

On the whole, I have found both internships incredibly useful, giving me experience, knowledge and access that would otherwise be extremely hard to come by. On the whole, the paid staff I have been working with have been extremely patient, kind and generous with their time. They have gone out of their way to make sure that much of the work I am doing is related to the particular interests I specified at the outset, and they have also gone out of their way to help me with job applications, making recommendations for where and how to look for jobs, and where and how to apply. In both internships I have been either put in touch with contacts of paid employees who might be able to help me with specific jobs, or paid employees have put in a good word for me with someone they know in the office where I am applying for a paid position.

I believe that the main problem with internships is that in my experience what is happening is that an unpaid individual with no rights is doing identical work to a paid employee with full rights. Yes, an internship presents an opportunity for an individual to get a foot in the door. The danger is that in the current economic climate an internship may become the only way to get a foot in the door - and, as a result, become the norm. If the MP’s office stopped taking on interns they would simply have to reduce their workload or apply for an increase to the office budget to pay for more staff.

Ultimately this is what I believe they should do, but currently there is no incentive for them to do so. The state could provide that incentive. I believe that tighter regulation of internships is needed to ensure that unpaid interns are not doing identical work to paid employees, and that interns who are doing identical work to paid employees are paid the national minimum wage.


We somehow missed this from a while ago…



Imagine a day without interns on Wednesday 8 June, 12-2pm

Calling all interns! Unpaid or underpaid internships are illegal. Interns “should be paid if they have a list of duties and work set hours,” as per National Minimum Wage legislation.

Come show politicians your support for the INTERN BILL OF RIGHTS! The NUS, ULU, Unite, Intern Aware, Interns Anonymous and Ross Perlin, author of Intern Nation, want politicians to come face-to-face with the exploitation faced by young people working for free across the country – show how much you contribute to the UK economy outside the House of Commons.

Please let us know of your interest- and/or to get more inf0- email with your name, postcode and state whether you are currently doing a internship.

This is how sad your employer will be without you...

Even the NHS isn’t safe

The following was sent in to us by one of our kind readers:

I am horrified to see on the NHS Jobs website, that there are “business apprenticeships” for basic admin work.  Although there is a  certain amount of learning and training on the job connected with any specific role,  there is no excuse to pay a low rate (£95 for 37.5 hrs in London)  for a filing, photocopying, phone messages, administration job.   In my experience, everyone in lower grades of admin. work in the NHS is subjected to  very heavy workloads.  Surely anyone who is doing a necessary job such as keeping patients’ records in order deserves to be paid a reasonable salary.

Employers have the right to ask for applicants to have Business Studies qualifications, or good GCSE results, or A levels or a degree.   Anyone with such qualifications and perhaps a couple of weeks work experience obviously has the ability to carry out an administrative job and no year of “training” is necessary in an NHS admin role.

I have  broad experience of working in the NHS as a PA secretary and administrator, and I can see absolutely no excuse for the NHS to take advantage of young people in this way.






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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