Young, Unpaid and Angry

No, I am not talking about the riots, but unpaid internships.

Once the culture of the arts, unpaid internships are now quite common in many industries but these companies could face legal action as they are breaking employment laws.

Having started my career as an unpaid intern and having hired interns desperate to get a foot in the industry, I find this young, unpaid and angry generation could be shooting themselves in the foot. We are in a global recession and jobs are hard to come by. In my experience of the arts, graduates who have sought unpaid internships have found themselves in paid work soon after.

I do understand and empathise with those who find unpaid internships unethical and exploitative. Internships are not fair or inclusive as not everyone can afford to work for just expenses to gain experience.

Unfortunately, there is very little support from the government for companies to provide this experience in any other way, leaving unpaid internships as the only option. The cost of putting interns on a payroll would end up being too costly for most companies to consider, leaving many with no experience at all. I guess one has to weigh up which is the greater evil…

Nevertheless, the value of internships should not be underestimated. It really can provide invaluable experience and contacts and be a launching pad for a successful career.


3 Comments to “Young, Unpaid and Angry”

  1. Hi Bunty

    I’ve also done an internship, unpaid but with expenses, and it led to emplyment for me in the same company. I think the government need to set a minimum term that an intern can work unpaid so that neither company nor intern feel exploited. Some companies in London really do exploit interns by offering 1 year unpaid experience and I think this is excessive.

    Outside of London, however, I feel companies are reluctant to take on any interns at all.

    • I think that is a fair comment Bubbly. A minimum term provides boundaries and supports the internship network.

      Also many interns are taken up whilst at Uni. Maybe outside if London this needs to be explored more.


  2. I know of whole companies, especially in the music industry, that are almost entirely run by unpaid interns. It’s become so embedded in the work culture, asking for a real paid job is seen as cheeky!

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