I’ve just read an article on graduate internships from Saturday’s Guardian newspaper. It’s about the predicament that our country’s recession has left university graduates in. If you haven’t read it, you can here, or read on to get my own summary.
If you’re a graduate you will most likely agree with Huma Qureshi when she writes about how some employers can treat graduates with unfathomable amounts of shit. Her article outlines just a few examples of graduate interns being treated like crap and she recommends the Interns Anonymous website which has many more horror stories. The site also has plenty of advice, links to the latest news and praise for ethical employers.
In my own experience I have encountered both good and bad internships, none of which have been nearly as bad as some stories from the above news article. I, like many others, have accepted a lowly paid internship because every employer refuses to offer payment to someone without experience. It is seemingly the only way to get into the media industry.
Some are valuable providing that the employer actively encourages learning and development. Most offer travel expenses and some offer food expenses too but I understand this isn’t enough for people who pay rent. I know too many people that struggle to pay rent, bills, tax, travel and food from the remainder of their student loan or savings.
My current position is good. Although I get paid a small amount it is enough to cover my daily travel and food costs. I’m learning too. Each day I learn something new and my skills are developing at a rapid rate. I get involved in a variety of clients and briefs and most importantly: I get treated like a real member of the team, not a photocopier.
I believe that if employers do not pay interns then they absolutely must shower them with knowledge, experience and support.
I know personally in the region of 20 - 35 people doing UNPAID internships in varying industries. Such companies have used the recession as an excuse to replace paid employees with unpaid interns. They use highly educated, hungry-for-work, graduates as slaves. I find these companies to be incredibly idiotic, because these interns will soon leave and one day become the MD’s and CEO’s of allies, potential clients or competitors and they’ll hold a grudge.
If you’ve got similar stories, advice, opinions or just something to say. Comment below.