Archive for February, 2012

What the hell, NHS?

Someone brought this to our attention - an advert for an unpaid psychology assistant position - click here for the full text. You need to commit to two days work per week for 6 months but NOTE, they will “look favourably on people who could make a greater commitment”. So you mean you will look favourably on people who can BUY A JOB? For goodness sake, I know the economy is in the shit and the government has less than no money but the NHS budget is ring fenced, you think they could bloody well shell out £6,000 for a part time assistant position. If only to adhere to NMW Law. 

Fashion, fashion, fashion

After interning, Lauren set up a campaign…what a great idea!

My name is Lauren Briggs and I’m a third year Fashion Communication student at Northumbria University. It can be quite daunting to be faced with graduation this year when Fashion is known to be one of the most notorious industries for exploiting interns. The demand for work experience today is probably at the highest it’s ever been and I’m soon to be catapulted straight into the frantic internship system.

I’ve already dipped my toe into the industry as an intern. My one-month unpaid placement within the press office of a well-known high street brand opened my eyes to the real problems of internships.

Although my experience was an enjoyable and worthwhile one, the tasks set out to me were essential to the company and would have been carried out by a paid employee if I had not been present. I believe I should have been paid for the work I was doing. The travel expenses the company provided me and my own savings were just about enough to fund my month in London. Unfortunately therefore, I could not carry out the second placement I was recommended for by my supervisor at the time with a very well known PR company. This placement would have improved my CV considerably and perhaps led to a job opportunity.

The company I was with took on two or three interns every four weeks to carry out a list of day-to-day duties that were essential to the business. I worked alongside two other interns who, like me, were trying to get as much experience listed on their C.V.’s as possible and had already made their way through three or four internships in the past year. I asked them how they could afford to intern for so long without any pay and they both replied, “I can’t!”. 

Another thing I discovered whilst I was interning was the difference in respect I received. The employees I worked alongside in the office were all very lovely and treated me very well, however as soon as you are introduced to members of staff outside the office as “the intern”, you’re somehow immediately relegated to so many things – unnoticed, unimportant and unnecessary. It is understandable why the majority of people look at interns in this way; perhaps because we are there to learn and experience the industry and therefore carry no importance or relevance to the paid members of staff working hard at their paid jobs, however interns often work just as hard, if not harder than some paid employees. Think about it, interns are constantly trying to impress and forever trying to stand out and therefore get the job done to the absolute best of their ability.

The feedback I received from an anonymous intern in my own research on the subject validates this. She was working at a very well known fashion house alongside 11 other interns. There were only 6 members of paid staff. The interns worked 12 hour shifts with a half an hour break whilst the paid staff often went home hours earlier. The jobs the interns were given were more demanding, more essential to the designer and made up the majority of the workload.

I’ve heard the same kind of story from so many interns across the UK and I’m eager to see change. The action taken by HM Revenue & Customs is the first step towards change, but I hope this move will advance further and influence other industries to pay their interns.

My own experience as an intern has inspired me to start my own campaign, The Internship Project, The main aim of the campaign is to promote the enforcement of the National Minimum Wage and work primarily with interns, students, graduates and young people to make internships fairer. The campaign launches on the 16th February 2012 and I hope that I can gather as much support as possible to really make a difference.

Can’t the Sunday Times pay their fashion interns?

Someone emailed us a link to this shocker of an advert from the Sunday Times - this seems wrong for the following reasons:

  • The intern will be working full-time without a salary for a minimum of 6 months.
  • The advert is clearly trying to avoid NMW regulations by stating that the internship is only suitable for students on a year out, looking for placements. Aside from the fact that we basically think students on placements should be paid if they are doing work (which common sense suggests they will be after a month at a work place), it’s kind of strange that they’re only advertising half way through the academic year - if the intern completed the suggested 9 months, they would be working up till November, which is past the end of the academic year.

If you think this looks a bit dodgy too, please tweet your displeasure…

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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