Archive for the 'Employment' Category

Which? route to take?

There are loads of people with horrible experiences as interns but my story is different. I graduated with a history degree from the LSE last year and spent 3 months searching for an entry-level job. I have some work experience but not really a lot and given the economic situation I wasn’t very optimistic. I didn’t apply for any internships because they were mostly unpaid and although my parents proposed to support me financially I decided to try it on my own. I became really desperate and applied for any jobs even those for which I was clearly over-qualified and which, to be honest, I’m quite sure I would have dropped out fast.

Continue reading ‘Which? route to take?’

Where do you draw the line?

Almost all MPs hire interns. Hundreds, probably thousands, go through Parliament each year. This is a fact we have highlighted on these pages many times over the past year.

We have heard from interns feeling exploited and abused and those who had great experiences and managed to progress from being an intern to a researcher or a caseworker.

We don’t often highlight particular adverts here… but occasionally… just occasionally… something stands out as beyond the pale.

Let me introduce you to David Lidington MP. He is looking for an intern.

Continue reading ‘Where do you draw the line?’

Expenses-only engagements are illegal, say Employment Tribunals

The Employment Tribunals, sitting in Reading, have ruled that workers engaged on an expenses-only basis are entitled to payment at least in line with the national minimum wage, in addition to payment for the holiday they accrue.

The decision arises from a case brought by Nicola Vetta, a former art department assistant, against London Dreams Motion Pictures Ltd.

Read more here:

The role of internships for employers

I originally found your site after reading this BBC article.

I wanted to read about your points-of-views to make sure we treat our interns (currently 2) as well as possible.

Most of what I read is extremely fair and I too find it sickening that some companies see it as a way to get free labour. I hope this isn’t as prevalent as some of the articles make out.

One thing I was a little worried about is that it seems some people what internships banning or a minimum wage implemented.

I was concerned that this would ruin the good opportunities for others. The guys that we currently have on board, I hope find working with us extremely useful for experience and know that they will be offered a fair wage a they progress (in fact one of them was offered a wage 4 days in to his internship as he is so good!). But we wouldn’t have been able to take the risk investing training and time into unproven employees. I know some have qualifications but there so many people with qualifications AND experience looking for work it just wouldn’t make sense to take them on.

That said we have taken a gamble on a couple of people without even qualifications. One great, one awful.

What I really want to say is that internships are a great way for agencies to test a persons ‘ unproven skills and have a workforce bolstered for little or no cost, and they can be a great way for people to prove themselves and make themselves an invaluable asset.

However we have had a few interns that have missed the point or had a bad attitude and I would say from most of the people I interview graduates have extremely unrealistic expectations. For instance one guy who joined us on a three month contract demanded a £15k wage after just a month - and a month of arriving late and leaving early! It’s a pity as he had a lot of potential and if he had a bit more dedication would have fitted in very nicely.

I hope some of this is a useful view of things from an agencies perspective.

From intern to employee

It’s official folks: it can happen. 

I’ve made the transition from parliamentary intern to parliamentary researcher in just three and a half months.

A while back I wrote the piece “valuable but difficult: living on the biscuit collection”.  I was depressed and demoralised; I felt more like throwing the towel in than Daniel Hannam did when DC back-tracked on that “cast- iron” guarantee. 

But, I persevered. I had to - what was the alternative, to just give up on everything I had worked so hard for? No, I wasn’t giving up that easily and with every application that was rejected I became more determined that I would get there eventually, and I did. And you will too.

Here are my tips for making the most of your internship in parliament:

1.               Make peace

The sooner you accept the nature of the beast the better in my opinion. Interning is a necessary evil and you need to make peace with the fact that you will be doing this for the next six months to a year.

Continue reading ‘From intern to employee’

Media interest in interns and Internships

Two bits of national press this week. Firstly, the BBC featured the issue of parliamentary internships on BBC Radio Five live and simultaneously on the BBC website. And today the Guardian have included an interview with my colleague Rosy in the Work section. Interestingly the journalist who wrote the article, Huma Qureshi, is an ex-intern herself, and got her job at the Guardian/Observer after a stint of unpaid work! The message is clear: it can happen!

An entirely positive internship - despite being broke for the duration of it!

One of the modules of my MBA required me to do an internship. As a materialistic female with dreams of free cosmetics and the prospect of wearing shoulderpads and stillettoes when I finally graduated, I asked to be put forward for a marketing department in one of our better known, international cosmetic companies. The university, however, suggested I try a parliamentary internship and, to my horror, I was accepted by an MP. I spent two days a week for three months following a charismatic MP around the Westminster Village, watching him get interviewed, watching him debate and meeting some remarkable people, including Secretaries of State. I drank subsidised beer, learned about politics (of which I had previously known nothing) and made some lifelong friendships. On graduation, the MP offered me another internship within one of the organisations he chaired so that I would be able to look for a job “from a job”. As the interviews began, a paid job became available within this not for profit organisation and I spent over three years working there. I forgot about money and make-up, learned how to run an actual company, continued to network with Parliamentarians and industry leaders who valued my position and developed an interest in sustainability. I’ll never make millions, but my internship has put me firmly on the path of something interesting and with a strong network of my own. A number of us who began our careers in this company have created an alumni of interns and a vast number have gone on to great things, including a career in politics. I think an internship is great if you have no idea what you want, or are trying to break into a tough industry. They are a little unfair, I appreciate, and few can afford to be unpaid, but if you are able, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

An entirely positive experience - despite being broke for the duration of it!

Perseverance

Having graduated with two masters from some of the most prestigious institutions in the world, I was naïve; I expected I could go straight into employment. But that idea turned out to be a metaphorical house built on sand. Instead I quickly understood I needed to do internships.

My first internship was very hard to come by, it took a lot of time effort and applications, but the thing I found most helpful was being creative. For example when I watched the television I would have a pen and a piece of appear beside me, and whenever I seen an organization appear on the television I would like to intern with, I would write their names down and cold apply later on. This tactic actually helped me get my first internship.

The problem with my first internship was I lived almost at the opposite end of the country from even the interview, so I had to catch a plane flight on my own expense to just go to the interview. I was fortunate and the think tank accepted me and there pay was very good for an internship, it was two hundred pounds a week, this helped me a lot. But for me the worry remind of getting housing, now I was very lucky as I had long lost relatives that lived in the very north of the city I was interning in, but nonetheless this area was cheap enough that I could of rented even if I didn’t have relatives.

The internship itself was very good, the staff treated me with a lot of respect, the boss of the think tank interacted with me on a very regular basis, and the work load was continuous which I very much appreciated. I couldn’t sing the praises of the people there enough. But what I have learned is this for my internship with this think tank what I put in I got out, so if I turned up at 7.30 in the morning and worked through to 7 at night  the staff recognized this and treated me with more respect. If I could bring new understanding, arguments and knowledge to the table they included me in more discussion. Lastly because they were very good to me they helped me network in a area of work that is notoriously hard to break into(and the networking has lead directly to my internship I am doing right now). I worked very hard from them and they rewarded me in return.

Continue reading ‘Perseverance’

Who are you to judge, Snooty McSmugarse?

Everyone hates unemployed people. “Sponging off the state” you might hear them say, with their Marks and Spencer shopping bags filled with swanky dead animals you never knew were edible. “Lazy scum” scream others from their shiny hybrid Mercs. “The shit on the sole of society’s shoe” yells the conservative voter in the corner there, with his rich daddy who got him his first job in the big wide world and still buys his underwear for him.

Get over it, we’re not all that bad.

It’s not as if I’m unemployed through choice. I mean, I know it’s my fault, I picked a stupid university course to study, an overpriced city to live and study in and a rubbish trade to try and earn my living, that being the scabies-riddled shit heap world of journalism.

Plus, Jesus, didn’t I time it well? Let’s graduate in an economic crisis, the one time when magazines and publishers don’t want to take risks, when employers are downsizing and the only people getting jobs are old timers with cobwebs up their arses and significantly more substance on their hand-written, coffee stained CVs.

I’m not bitter - much. It’s just lame when people pass judgement without actually knowing how difficult the situation is. Some people have worked hard and done well, notably the more talented, well-organised and better connected females with much prettier faces, and the people who aren’t reserved, mumbling, pessimistic arseholes like yours truly.

So when employed friends or family give me stick for not being employed I tend to let it slide. Or force myself to realise they’re only trying to help, without realising all they’re actually doing is coming across as patronising little buggers. There’s not always a simple enough solution to people’s recommendations of “just get off your dirty arse and get a bloody job” …just what the hell do you think I’ve been trying to do all this time?

So what happens? You start doing unpaid internships where you’re sat in the corner of a poorly ventilated room, doing everyone else’s unwanted dirty work and watching them reap the rewards in the form of a monthly wage. It’s all in the name of experience, right? Yeah, sure, here’s a list of all the things I’ve ever learnt from internships and work experience placements:

1) Papercuts hurt like fuck

2) Hot water hurts like fuck

3) Spitting in your editor’s tea will make the days go faster*

4) Stealing is really, really fun and makes you feel A LOT better

Number two is actually a little harsh, as two of the internships I’ve done have actually been awesome (stand up Artrocker Magazine and Rocket PR – you guys are safe, this doesn’t apply to you, I’d never spit in your tea), but the rest of them, especially anything based anywhere around Oxford Street, you’re a bunch of goons.

The other thing that really grinds my gears (lame Family Guy reference, I’m just as bad as the rest of them, sorry) are people that work in the job centre. I thought it was the sensible option to go on the dole. I get £52 a week, which ain’t exactly helpful, but the people in there seem to think they’re the love child of Sir Alan Sugar and Simon Cowell.

Yes, this did actually happen

Yes, this did actually happen

Here’s an example; I was two minutes late for my last sign on – which I cunningly blamed on the Sittingbourne buses that plod along the roads like a bunch of dying raccoons who’ve accidently munched a few skag needles. And oh my, the looks I get walking in there. Waving through the groups of chav scum loitering by the door (you know, the types that still sniff glue and hold their ball sacks all day), the eyes given to me by coffee slurping ‘big shots’ in that building tear through my wirey frame like a flaming samurai sword slicing through a plastic bowl of piss.

My fellow job centre peoples

My fellow job centre peoples

It’s like they’re supposed to be big shots. They’ve got their jobs and we’re causing them some sort of inconvenience for not having jobs and requiring their help. They act like they shouldn’t have to be there. But wait, hang on, don’t they need us just as much as we need them? I mean, fuck, if there weren’t any jobless people there’d be no need for the job centres, so don’t look down on me like I’m causing you problems, arsewipe. I’m giving you work to do so you can feed your inbred children, so do your job and help find me a job rather than jabbering on to eachother about how you think you might be going through the menopause or some shit. Ah thank you!

Plus who are you to judge, Snooty McSmugarse? You work in a bloody job centre. I think that means a nice old ‘nuff said’ is in order.

So sod you lot. As soon as I get a job I’m posting a card through their letter box with some scribbles simply saying “cunts”, poorly scrawled with my own poo, of course.

Brad x

This article originally appeared on Brad’s blog and if you’re twitter inclined then follow him there.

“Good luck”

When I graduated, my Dad (who’s a civil engineer) asked me, “So what are you going to do about getting a job then?”. I replied calmly that I’d probably have to move to London and spend 6 months or so working for various companies for free to get enough ‘industry experience’ to bolster my CV and make contacts to eventually (hopefully) get a job. I’ve since had to explain this to several other people who work for different industries, and each time I’ve done so I’ve been met variously with disbelief, outrage, pity and no small amount of people wishing me a sarcastic ‘good luck’.

That said, I managed to get a placement outside of London and after working there for a month (luckily) they took me on. So I guess the system kinda works.

Just try explaining that to my Dad.

This comment originally appeared on the Creative Review website.

Guardian article: The eternal Intern? No Thanks

Rachel Bowen has written an article for the Guardian on her internship experiences.

As my European experience draws to an end and I reflect on my year as an intern, I can only feel angry that despite gaining valuable experience, I appear to be as unemployable as when I graduated last summer. I am not doubting the value of internships – I know I have learned useful skills and more about my own capabilities in the past year than I did in 16 years of education, and I am immensely grateful to all the people who have given me a chance to prove myself and provided an insight into different careers. What I am concerned about is that internships are simply seen as another hoop for already debt-ridden graduates to jump through and that, although they may lead to higher future returns later in a career, from where I stand at the moment they seem to stall rather than launch that career.

But enough is enough; I have made a promise to myself that my days as an intern are over. I am no longer prepared, and I cannot afford, to let my skills be exploited for free. I am ready for a real challenge, real responsibility and perhaps most important, a real salary …

I’d be interested to know if her frustration is shared by other interns- let us know!

If people want to work unpaid, we shouldn’t stop them

I have read some of the articles about interns and I do agree that you need resources to be able to do an unpaid internship for any length of time and this does discriminate against less privileged members of society. However, in my area of work with international students, we find that internships are so important to them, they will save money from their student jobs and do menial jobs at weekends, whilst doing placements, in order to be able to fund the experience.

It is increasingly evident that without experience, it is very difficult to get career progression, particularly in industries like the Arts, Media, Finance etc. Unpaid experience is often the only way to bolster a C.V. and give the graduate a chance to get on the first rung of their chosen career ladder. Large companies do have structured placement schemes and many can afford to pay minimum wage, but for most small and medium sized enterprises, paying an intern is beyond their budget. Employers also feel that time is needed to dedicate to raw recruits and that the experience they will have will be invaluable and build up much needed practical knowledge, work skills and understanding of business.

Continue reading ‘If people want to work unpaid, we shouldn’t stop them’

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