Archive for the 'International' Category

R-E-S-P-E-C-T (worst internship ever)

Most of the posts on the site talk about internships based in the UK- here’s one from a graphic design graduate who spent a summer working for a web design company in Philadelphia, U.S.A, land of the free (labour):

I had an internship last summer at a web design company. I am a graphic designer who has graduated college but took on an unpaid internship to learn more about the industry and learn about web design. I made all of this clear in the interview. My “boss” every day treated me with no respect. Yelled at me when I didn’t understand things and asked for help. To the extent that one time I asked for assistance on something I didn’t understand and he laughed at me and said “Jesus Christ you think you’re ever gonna learn about web design?” in front of the whole office. Furthermore, I asked for assistance on a new website and in front of the whole office he yelled at me “THIS COMES UNDER THE CATEGORY OF FIGURE IT OUT YOURSELF!” Figure it out myself? I’m an unpaid intern trying to learn from industry pros (although it’s hard for me to say he was anything close to professional). This should come under the category of help out your unpaid intern who’s doing your work for free. My “boss” took every opportunity to embarrass me in front of the office. By the internship’s end, he looked at my portfolio site where I claimed that I helped out on various projects at the internship and stated exactly my extent in the project. He then embarrassed me in front of the whole office yelling “Why the hell are you going to take credit for someone else’s work?” What the hell???? I spent all summer working on those projects and for me to state that I assisted on the projects is worthy of spilling out to the office that I’m taking credit for other people’s work? Even though I receive ZERO mention on their website for the graphic design and coding I’ve done for their projects. The featured projects on their site are all projects I worked on! Needless to say, after those outbursts I quit…

and I’ve never quit anything in my life. It would have been nice to be a little bit appreciated. I was never offered a lunch on them. I was never invited to company functions unless I had to videotape something for them. I had a really crappy experience there and tell everyone in the area that they’re a bunch of A-Holes, with the exception of the lower level people. Sorry to make this so long, but my experience has really frustrated me- that I worked a whole summer for free as a college graduate doing work that any designer would be paid at least $20/hr to do, while a 15 year old at McDonalds is doing the most unskilled labor and being paid more than I was.

Maccy Ds

Benevolent corporates

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’

Interning in Germany… a different experience

I interned for a company in Germany whose main role was to teach English to business employees, but they also did some translation and editing work. I was given work to do in all three areas. I was really grateful for the experience itself but I thought I should be paid, especially as I had relocated to Germany for the period, and asked for a small salary. Maybe it was a bit cheeky but when I thought about it, each translation and piece of editing work I did and each class I taught would have been given to a permanent member of the company if I hadn’t been there, and that person would have been paid. The company were really great about it and not only gave me a small salary to help towards my rent but also made me a paid-up temporary member of teaching staff, so that I got a fee for each class I taught.

Maybe my experience was atypical but I can’t help feeling that, in Europe, a more sympathetic attitude is taken towards interns. This company didn’t even normally pay interns but they did their best to help me out and never once did it seem that I was being taken for granted. In France, interns are nearly always paid; generally about 300 euros monthly. It’s really not much, but I think it has symbolic as well as monetary value. It says: “We can’t take you on as a paid worker but we’re grateful for the work you do” rather than, “You’re just another useless student who’s lucky to get a free Pret sandwich out of us”.

An International Element: from Brussels, with love

In parallel with the ever-expanding internship business in London, the ‘stage’ and ‘stagiaires’ have become an institutional phenomenon in Brussels. The Commission takes on some 600 each semester, the Parliament several hundred more, and the countless lobbyist and consultative companies in the European capital live and breathe the intermittency of rolling internships. I am currently in my second.

Continue reading ‘An International Element: from Brussels, with love’


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