Interns Beware

We got this letter in the mail…

There is an organisation called The Work Foundation whose ‘mission’ is to promote ‘good work for all’. One of The Work Foundation’s aims is ‘to improve the quality of working life’ but, unfortunately, they do not apply their own principles to their own organisation. The Work Foundation advertised a vacancy this September looking for ‘exceptional interns’ to work for them for three months at minimum wage; so ‘exceptional’ they stipulated that all candidates should have a research based Masters Degree in economics or in a field related to employment. The Work Foundation is taking advantage of present extraordinarily high graduate unemployment, to recruit over-qualified researchers to do work that their full time paid staff were doing, for minimum wage. Such ‘exceptional’ interns would have spent thousands of pounds on their Masters Degrees, all for the promise of minimum wage for three months. It is not ‘good work for all’, it is an example of outrageous hypocrisy and, what is worse, it is exploitation.

However, it is legal exploitation. Because they are paying minimum wage to their interns to do work that their staff would be paid a salary to do, they are not doing anything illegal. The most infuriating thing of all is that The Work Foundation is better than most intern exploiting organisations; at least they offer minimum wage.

The worst perpetrators of graduate exploitation are the policy makers, the politicians. Look on and you will see dozens of vacancies for unpaid internships advertised by politicians, all hungry to take advantage of the unemployment many protest so passionately about. Pick any such advert from a politician and I would bet a Parliamentary intern’s annual salary that politician will have at some point publically complained about income equality or social mobility or the poverty of aspiration or that most politicians are from middle class background and are not reflective of society. Those politicians are bigger hypocrites than The Work Foundation.  Ask yourself which section of society can most afford to work unpaid in London for up to six months, to be able gain sufficient experience to begin a career in politics? I can assure you it is not the poor.

A bunch of hypocrites?

Which is why I was encouraged that all the male Labour leadership candidates signed up to the ‘Intern Aware’ statement, declaring ‘I pledge that if I am elected leader of the Labour Party I will campaign for Labour’s Minimum Wage Act to be fully enforced so that employers must pay their interns what they are due.’ However I spoke to a graduate seeking a career in politics who is not an enthusiast of the ‘Interns Aware’ campaign. She worked on a Labour candidate’s leadership campaign and she told me that because the candidate “signed the ‘Interns Aware’ statement, I am classed as a ‘volunteer’ and not an intern – so now I can’t even claim travel and lunch expenses!” Belatedly the ‘volunteer’ was eventually offered expenses as the leadership race ended. Nevertheless I cannot help but think that Labour candidates signing up to ‘Intern Aware’ pledge and then changing the status of their ‘Interns’ to ‘Volunteers’, was hardly in the spirit of the pledge. However, it does very much fit into the spirit of hypocrisy that plagues politicians; the phrase ‘put your money where your mouth is’ remains to ring true.


4 Responses to “Interns Beware”

  1. 1 anonymous 10/18/2010 at 11:55 am

    I would also add that you have to be aware of the companies like Inspiring Interns ( – the only purpose of the company is to serve with finding unpaid interns for the companies. I found out that employers pay 2k for whole internship period to Inspiring Interns. II are happy, employers are happy with finding qualified interns and the only victims are interns themselves. They don’t get paid at all.
    On top of that II company received the BT entrepreneurship award of the year… well.. maybe this is a good business, but definitely not a good deal for students. be aware

  2. 2 Andrew, Inspiring Interns 10/18/2010 at 3:47 pm

    Thank you for your thoughts, anonymous.

    Our main aim as a company is to find jobs for graduates. Companies (particularly SMEs) are doing very little hiring at the moment, and are taking on practically no-one with limited experience. Our internships help graduates gain this experience, and get their foot in the door at companies that otherwise would not have employed them. The result is 65% of our candidates get graduate jobs where they interned.

    We believe this 3 month learning experience is a great investment for your career, and often of more commercial value than a year long (and expensive) masters. I would also add all our internships cover lunch and travel expenses as a minimum, and many are paid roles.


    Andrew, Inspiring Interns

  3. 3 Shiv Malik 10/25/2010 at 9:41 pm

    Just to add, the work foundation has now gone bust… Unpaid interns- the first sign of a failing organisation.

  4. 4 cam4 01/07/2013 at 2:14 pm

    Hi mates, how is the whole thing, and what you would like to say concerning this article,
    in my view its genuinely amazing designed for me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

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.


Interns Anonymous accept no responsibility for the contents of the blog, comments or any other content on this site that is posted or provided by third parties. This website is designed to act as a forum for interns to share experiences and opinions about their work, therefore, we will not censor opinions we do not agree with. The opinions stated in blog contributions do not represent those of Interns Anonymous. We disclaim all liability for such content to the fullest extent permitted by law. If you have any queries please email us.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 130 other followers


%d bloggers like this: