Archive for the 'Nepotism' Category

Quit your bellyaching

 Like many of our generation, I have taken the route of an internship with a Member of Parliament. There are some interesting responsibilities, press releases, case work etc. Then there are the usual pitfalls; the lack of direction in the office mainly. One of the key problems for interns is that those directly responsible for them often forget that the principle reason for you being there is to increase your skills. Often the lines are blurred between Bob, the unpaid intern who is here for the benefit of his career, learning essential skills for public affairs, and Bob, the office lackey who is here (almost literally) to sweep up after us. To a negligent supervisor, recently graduated university students often do seem to be there to do unpaid grunt work. When you’re on the receiving end of it, it is practically sickening.

 It can leave you with a feeling of intense resentment towards the world of public affairs and media, which thrives on this practise and often ostracises outsiders.

 Whilst undertaking this internship I have been reading The Triumph of the Political Class by Peter Oborne. I don’t think I could have picked a worse book to cement these feelings of bitterness.

 ”As they professionalized and grew more homogenous the Political and Media Classes began to restrict membership to the middle classes, and increasingly to each other’s sons and daughters. This was in large part because of the special pay structure of the Media/Political Class. Though stars in both arenas were capable of making very large sums of money indeed, new graduates are impoverished. A young researcher reporting to an MP, or a television producer starting out, are both extremely poorly paid. They are, however, expected to work in Central London, which is prohibitively expensive and only possible with subsidy from well heeled parents”

 The whole of the public affairs and media domain is made possible by backhanders, press leaks, favourable stories and a slimy mutability between actors serving themselves and their friends. Even my university’s careers page recommends the practise of ‘networking’ in order to progress in this arena. The story goes that Peter Mandelson got his big break in the world of politics by offering a cup of tea to a senior Labour figure who missed his train. Upon the Minister seeing Mandelsons’ poster of him on his bedroom wall, the young prince of darkness’s fate was sealed. Am I expected to hang around London with a hot coffee in my hand, waiting for a stray Milliband needing some refreshment to pluck me out of my provincial nightmare?

mandy

I wonder which lucky bastard bought this for him

 The underlying request amongst most users of interns anonymous is that these internships should be regulated with a statutory minimum pay. This might seem like the reasonable thing to do when so many of us are suffering at the hands of that amorphous tentacled monster in London. However, as media and public affairs have been professionalized, certain principles have slipped. Our constitution is gradually eroding and our reporting remains as unreliable as it was during the yellow press period of Hearst’s America. The prospect of increasing the regulatory powers of the state sector and paying interns in the media will only entrench these problems or create further negative consequences.

Continue reading ‘Quit your bellyaching’

Internships: The rich and well connected - A Case Study of Euan Blair

Subject: Euan Anthony Blair

Profile: The son and heir of the former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair

Future big shot

Future big shot

To quote Wikipedia:

“He is known principally for being found inebriated in Leicester Square as a teenager, having a flat purchased by his mother for use while a student at Bristol University and having his appendix removed.”

After graduating with an unspectacular 2:1 in Ancient History from Bristol in 2005, the typical graduate life of struggle and drudgery did not befall Euan. The money and connections kicked in.

In 2005, he spend two months interning at a French radio station owned by France’s richest man, Bernard Arnault – a sometime private guest of the Prime Minister at his country house, Chequers.

A year later he landed another internship working for Republican politicians in Washington DC.

“The former Prime Minister’s son spent his time making photocopies and helping to set up hearings for the committee – ‘just general intern-type duties’, according to a spokesman.”

I am sure having the surname ‘Blair’ was no help at all. After another few weeks interning for Democrats, Euan left to pursue an MA… but not just any MA, an MA at Yale with a scholarship of £50,000.

This came as some surprise to other Yale students, who had no recollection of such a grant being made to a postgraduate before, particularly one with an unspectacular 2: 1 in ancient history. Maybe it was the internships that swayed it?

And now what for our well connected friend? He is about to begin a 30grand graduate traineeship with Morgan Stanley, where his father’s former right-hand man, Jonathan Powell, is a top executive.

Employers should train us, not demand intern experience

I’ve done loads of stuff. I’ve interviewed the British energy minister, evaluated an human rights organisation’s entire year of work for senior directors, written a scoop on the U.S. attorney general and his views on Guantanamo prisoners, worked in Siberia, set up a citywide youth organisation, run a graduate recruitment scheme and taken a TV crew to London Fashion Week. And I’ve done it all for paid jobs – I’ve been lucky and landed some great work. 

 

Continue reading ‘Employers should train us, not demand intern experience’


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