Archive for October, 2009

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”.


Parliamentary commission highlights role of interns:

The House of Commons Commission’s report on Employment of Members’ staff by the House , published yesterday, sets out proposed changes to the staff-employer relationship in the House of Commons.

There isn’t a great deal in the report to cheer interns, whose status it recommends remains that of non-employees. It does however highlight the fact that if expected to: ‘work at specific times or to complete specific work, they are no longer volunteers but employees and some employment legislation will apply, such as the minimum wage’.

Young, talented and working for free

Behold! Interns Anonymous and Judgement Productions present a short but sweet documentary on internships.

NB: We are keeping this post at the top of the page for now – but please scroll down to see new posts as they arrive.

In a series of interviews, interns talk about their highs and lows, how they afford to work for free, the ways in which internships restrict social mobility and alternative systems to those that operate in the UK.

Graduate jobs crisis is only going to get worse

A sobering article in the Times from Martin Birchall, a managing director of High Fliers Research and editor of The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers.

The plight of graduates has been making headlines since the start of the year. Predictions of the likely fate of those who left university this summer vary, but several estimates suggest that up to one in six new graduates will be unemployed. And that’s not to say that all of the remainder will find work — a third are expected to take refuge in further study or opt for a year out.

The recession has taken its toll on the graduate job market. About a fifth of entry-level vacancies — outside vocational areas such as teaching and medicine — have been cut during the past two years, taking graduate recruitment back to 2005 levels.

This may not sound particularly dramatic — the official graduate unemployment rate that year was a modest 7 per cent, about 15,000 individuals — but, in the four years since then, the student population has grown substantially, spurred on by the Government’s target for 50 per cent of school-leavers to go on to university. This means that an extra 40,000 graduates completed degrees this year, compared with 2005, turning a relatively modest downturn in graduate vacancies into a crisis for university-leavers.

Continue reading ‘Graduate jobs crisis is only going to get worse’

Sports Journalism: From the Guardian Careers discussion on Internships

I’m a recent NCTJ graduate seeking work as a sports journalist. I have already completed one unpaid internship and intend to start another very soon in London.

I fully appreciate that for some people internships, especially long-term ones, can be difficult to commit to due to financial restrictions. But, for me it all boils down to how much desire you have to succed in your chosen career.

After completing my studies earlier this year I found it hard to find full-time work as a journalist and decided that completing an internship was the answer. However, I didn’t have much money so I moved home to save on rent and embarked on a three-month money saving mission. I took the first two jobs I was offered on a building site and in an Ice Cream parlour and I saved enough money to move to London and begin an Internship.

I fully believe that the money I made knocking down walls and selling Calippos, Fabs and Madagascan Dark Chocolate Magnums to enable myself to do another internship will lead me into the career I so passionatly want to succed in.

During my first internship I felt I was genuinely producing better stories than some of the staff reporters and politely took it up with the editor. He agreed I was contributing well to the running of the website and agreed to pay me full expenses. He said that me doing this demonstrated maturity and confidence in my ability. I have since started to do freelance work for the same website.

My experiences of interning have been very positive and have given me an insight into the world I want to work in. Without this experience I feel I would be far less equipped to find full-time work and perform well once employed.

Guardian- Week 11: Diary of an intern …

The Guardian is publishing an intern’s diary every week:

In the interests of honesty the identity of the intern will not be revealed, nor will the paper be identified and any colleagues mentioned will have been renamed

The new head of content has begun after several of the paper’s more senior journalists deputising over the past few weeks. He’s wasted no time in stamping his authority on the place, although he’s worked for other papers in the group and everyone knows him quite well.

The bloke is also a very funny and outgoing kind of journalist, and I think he’s already made things a bit more relaxed around the place. His language is more than a bit colourful, although that doesn’t bother me one bit. I’ve struck up a bit of a rapport with him as well so hopefully he’s going to become aware of my talents.

Podcast recording is a bit of a hotchpotch this week due to circumstances Ricky and I can’t control. Still, this week’s isn’t necessarily worse off content-wise, but we’ve run into some potential problems which have meant it’s not as good as the previous two.

A graduate on work experience has started pestering me a little bit. I tried to think back to what it was like for me when I’ve done similar placements, but to be honest this is really starting to grate. I’m all for being keen and enthusiastic but this person is doing my head-in with their constant querying.

Ricky agreed to give me yesterday off so that I could cover a local awards ceremony on video for the website today. I’m a bit bemused as to why I was sent on this, after all, there are about three or four others with significant video experience and this is a big, important job. It went on for quite a few hours, but I managed to have a decent conversation with a photographer during a break in proceedings. He was very supportive and friendly, so that certainly made me feel more valued.

The awards ceremony ended in the early hours, after which I had to return the equipment to HQ. Ricky kindly let me have an extra hour in bed to get some kind of rest before the day’s work.

However, I was then sent on another video assignment in the afternoon. This is the first time during the eleven weeks that I feel I’ve been taken advantage of. I’m not that good at this kind of task and due to the fact I’ve barely any experience, I was shattered from ‘going the extra mile’ as the editor politely told me at last night’s event, and yet I’m being sent out to do something no-one else could be bothered to take responsibility for.

Guardian careers Q and A session

The Guardian careers section is running a Live Q&A session online this coming Friday. The session will focus on internships and the exploitation of graduates vs. the importance of experience in your chosen field.

A panel of experts (including us) will be online and able to answer any questions you have about internships.

The session is running from 1pm-4pm on Friday 23rd October.

If you want some advice on the best way to go forward with your chosen careers then visit guardian careers this Friday!

Interns Anonymous

We want this website to be a forum for interns to share their experiences and discuss the ethics of unpaid employment. Most importantly, we want this site to be a place where YOU can tell us your story.


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