Archive for the 'Coverage' Category

What should be done about internships? Let’s talk…

Guardian Careers held an online chat with us as one of the ‘experts’, it was really interesting and I recommend you take a look at everyone’s comments. As usual some really negative and really positive accounts of internships and some in between. The main problem we have with unpaid internships continues to be that they are closed off to people who don’t come from rich backgrounds and who therefore can’t afford to live in London, Manchester, Cardiff or wherever for months on end with no wage. This has not changed and won’t until people who deserve a wage are getting paid a wage.

HOWEVER, we’ve been thinking in a different way about this lately and I wonder what you think- alongside representing all of the bad stuff about internships (which we love doing), we’re also keen to emphasise what you people can do to avoid the internship catch-22 situation- how you can think about the job search in a different way and take control of your own prospects. For example, Alex (IA co-founder) applied to his current really great graduate scheme job on the strength of the work he has done setting up and promoting Interns Anonymous. Other people we’ve been in touch with, have started up their small businesses after becoming exhausted and bankrupted by the internship treadmill. And someone else has set up her own mini-charity because she was fed up with interning as an office assistant- so she now works in an office for a wage and does what she wants to do out of hours.

We’d really like to get interns and graduates together- in person!- to think about different ways to find jobs, different ways to make money, different ways to get experience- which is why we’re in the early stages of thinking about a series of get togethers, which will feature an interesting speaker, hopefully free booze and a really sociable environment- so that you can talk to each other, come up with ideas and find out about opportunities that are not internships. Although we’re hoping to find sponsorship the events will probably have to cost something to cover venue hire, possible speakers’ fee- we’d like to gauge interest so please do let us know what you think.

Thoughts on a postcard or in the comments box please-and have a look at the Guardian comments and debates here.

Bright ideas welcome...

Can you fill me in?

OK so we haven’t published many posts recently but just like Greg Knight, we do work for you.  First of all I’d like to introduce you to some new additions to the Interns Anonymous TEAM, who will shortly appear on our ‘about’ page, if all goes to plan.

This is Joe, he is a maths teacher who used to be an intern and in his spare time (teachers don’t normally have spare time) he likes to read about contract law and National Minimum Wage legislation. One day he will rule the world through his extensive knowledge of all of employment law.

This is Kim, she is working in the Department of Health after having done some interning and also not being able to afford interning (and feeling angry about interning). Joe and Kim have come with us to meetings, generally helped strategise and frankly been crazily well informed. Hurrah! (p.s. I promise they aren’t unpaid interns…)

Second of all I’ll give you a short run down of the meetings we went to at BIS and Nick Clegg’s policy unit. At BIS we were discussing guidance for employers re: NMW legislation, so what should the government say to employers who are thinking about taking on an intern and wondering whether or not they should pay them? The civil servants we talked to were very receptive to our opinions but on the other hand budget restrictions and cuts to the NMW staff make it difficult to see how any impact is going to be made by the updated guidance. We’ll see.

At Nick Clegg’s (alas sans Clegg) we went to a ‘round table discussion’, except it was in a small airless room in the Cabinet Office around a rectangular table. This was very interesting and we were glad to be asked- there were all sorts there (unions, interny people, employers’ representatives) and encouragingly we all agreed on a lot of points. The slight elephant in the room (at least for me) was the disconnect between professed policy aims and the message from politicians. One example of this is the lack of political will regards changing the internship situation in Westminster (i.e. that most internships are unpaid and therefore the preserve of those from wealthy backgrounds)- a sense that it was impossible to urge MPs to get their own house in order- it’s these kinds of contradictions which make talking about internships frustrating a lot of the time.

In other news, Intern Aware  have been doing stirling work- this story about Lyn Brown  would be a classic if it wasn’t so depressing. When will they learn, the blighters!

Becky from Internocracy apparently trounced Inspiring Interns at a debate on the ethics of unpaid internships at the Frontline Club

And finally, here is an interesting article from an intern about, well, internships- and some recent controversies. Please keep writing in with your internship stories, good, bad and ugly and we’ll keep you filled in…

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


We somehow missed this from a while ago…



Two fantastic events for you people

1. Intimate bookshop talk exploring the culture of work… Ross Perlin is travelling all the way from the States to Clapton in East London to talk about his new book, ‘Intern Nation’ (see post below)

WHEN: Wednesday, June 1st, 2011 at 7pm

WHERE: Pages of Hackney bookshop, 70 Lower Clapton Road, Hackney, London, E5 0RN


CONTACT: 020 8525 1452

2. Ross Perlin, Ed Howker and Shiv Malik: The Betrayal of Britain’s Youth

Our favourite people Shiv Malik and Ed Howker, writers of Jilted Generation, step up to defend young people once again- and now with an American ally, Ross Perlin.

WHEN: Saturday, June 04, 2011 at 2.30pm

WHERE: Abney Public Hall, Stoke Newington Literary Festival

Another book mention! ‘Intern Nation’ by Ross Perlin

We’re very pleased to announce that another book has been published which mentions Interns Anonymous- Perlin has taken an entertaining look at internship culture in the US and mentions the UK along the way:

Ross Perlin’s myth-busting exposé of the brave new world of unpaid work is a witty yet serious investigation of the well-trodden part of internships. Writer, multi-linguist and former intern, Perlin takes the reader inside the private and public sectors, journalism, boutique charities and mega corporations such as Disney. Furthermore, he inspects how many thrifty universities run lucrative study-abroad “destination internship” schemes and exchange student labour for cheap academic credit where little to no learning takes place. Referring to historians about what unleashed this phenomenon, Perlin unravels the cultural and professional rhetoric surrounding internships, from its beginnings in the nineteenth-century hospital to its next base in the political realm, on Capitol Hill.


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!

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.

We made it into Private Eye…

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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