Archive for February, 2011

Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole said to have accidentally fired at Loughborough sports science intern at training ground

Police are to investigate reports that Ashley Cole accidentally shot and wounded a 21-year-old student with an air rifle at Chelsea football club’s training ground.

A Surrey police spokesman confimed that the force would be in touch with the club after a report that the England international fired the weapon at the man at close range on Sunday last week at the training facility at Cobham.

This takes the exploitation of interns to a whole new level!



Unpaid internships break the law but only 12% of managers know it

Internocracy have carried out some fantastic research with YouGov (polling 1,858 adults) to find out how many people know that unpaid internships break the law.

  • Just 12% of managers understand that companies may be breaking the law if they offer unpaid placements
  • 60% of people who have heard of internships think that companies exploit interns as a source of free labour
  • only 10% of under-35s who have heard of internships know their rights when it comes to working as an unpaid intern

Internocracy will be releasing a full report with further figures on The State of Internships in the UK on March 7.


We get plugged in the Sunday Times

Another fantastic weekend’s coverage for unpaid internships.

The Mail have followed up on last Sunday’s scoop that the Tories were flogging city internships to raise party funds.

David Cameron is to ban internships with top City firms being sold for thousands of pounds to wealthy Conservative supporters for their children after the practice was exposed by The Mail on Sunday.

They quote a senior Tory aide who said:

You can rest assured that this kind of auction will not be part of next year’s event. It was badly misjudged.

Misjudged? It goes to the very core of what is wrong with the graduate job market at the moment.

In the story the Mail quote the email we leaked in 2009 which revealed Philip Hammond as is poisonous best:

Tory Cabinet Minister Philip Hammond has defended using an unpaid intern alongside salaried staff, saying in a leaked email in 2009: ‘I would regard it as an abuse of taxpayer funding to pay for something that is available for nothing and which other MPs are obtaining for nothing.’

Other coverage this weekend includes the fantastic campaign group Intern Aware getting plugged on the Today programme. Listen here 1 hour 56 minutes in.

And finally Interns Anonymous’ own Alex Try got quoted in the Sunday Times. Jamie Oliver has apparently claimed our generation are “too wet to work”. He obviously hasn’t met any of the thousands of people slaving away at unpaid internships.

Graduates are also struggling to land proper jobs even after working for free. Alex Try, who graduated with a 2.1 in history from Manchester University in 2008, said: “Jamie Oliver doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” He argued that tens of thousands of well qualified young people are fighting so hard to get jobs that they are working without pay, either as “interns” or on “work experience” placements.

Try, who co-founded the Interns Anonymous website because so many of his friends were having to work for nothing, believes the phenomenon is eroding jobs.

“Entry-level jobs are being replaced by unpaid internships,” he said. “This isn’t just in desirable industries — you are seeing it in all sorts of firms, even people being PAs.”

It is an insidious development, he believes, because most internships do not lead to proper employment. It was only late last year that Try finally landed a full-time post after moving to London.

Phew! Role on next weekend!


No soon have I written this that we spot our friends Internocracy on the BBC News channel. More great exposure!

The Tragic Case of the Perrenial Intern

In 2009 I graduated in Philosophy from a ‘red brick’ university. In hindsight I can concede that throughout my education my attitudes towards finding work were naive and ill informed. Like many young people I made the decision to study my subject of choice aged 17-18. As we know the economy was then in a rather healthier state, meaning that for a number of years graduates from good universities in all subjects had encountered less trouble finding employment. Consequently the advice I received from school and home was to either choose a subject which would lead directly to a career I was keen to pursue, or if I did not yet have a particular career in mind, to study a subject I had enjoyed at school. I chose the latter – accepting the prevailing “any degree is a good degree” philosophy.

Upon graduating I immediately began teaching English as a second language at a school in my home city of Manchester. I knew this was not a long term solution and began to look into a career in the media. I stopped teaching and began writing to local newspapers eventually securing a two week internship with a regional magazine near my home. This was my first taste of working as an unpaid intern and it was not especially interesting. The editor rarely gave me any work to do so I spent most of my time staring at a computer screen, browsing the Internet. It was not entirely useless and I could have perhaps been more proactive, however I sensed a mutual understanding that I was to stay out of the way as far as possible.

After failing to secure any more journalism experience in Manchester I eventually got another two week internship for a small charity working as a ‘social media intern.’ Once again I quickly understood my role and kept out of the way. This was my least productive experience in terms of skills gained – the tasks I was given were so pointless and mundane that I didn’t feel I learned anything. By this point I was beginning to feel demoralised.

Some time later I got the opportunity to intern as a Media Assistant for a national campaign. I worked closely with the regional coordinator and felt the experience was positive. I gained real skills including pitching to the media, writing press releases, communicating with MPs and I was paid a daily stipend of £10 on top of expenses. The internship lasted 3 months and by the end I felt more confident about securing paid work. However this proved difficult and I soon began to feel that I had exhausted most of my opportunities in Manchester.

Up until this point I had been living with my parents and I was fortunate that they were willing to support me financially when a month later I secured another three month internship with a PR firm in London. I fully expected this to be my last – in part because the firm had assured me there was a high probability that I would be offered a job at the end of the period. The interview had been ridiculously and unnecessarily gruelling so I was surprised to discover I was merely the latest addition to a team of four graduates in a press office run almost exclusively on intern power. Unfortunately, the office was lead by a most patronising and disagreeable woman who was of a similar age to the rest of us and appeared to delight in making us feel worthless and subordinate.

In one sense the experience was positive as I gained important media and public relations experience, yet much of it was self taught and I was offered little training or support. Naturally all the interns felt a little exploited when, one by one, we were told the firm could not afford to take us on when our respective three month periods expired. Evidently they had never intended to offer us proper employment, a fact which did not hit me as hard as one of the other interns who had left a good job for the opportunity of a career break in communications. To date this is my first and only experience of blatant and unadulterated dishonesty. I made a personal pledge not to apply for any more internships so as to avoid becoming yet another tragic case of the perennial intern.

Since then three months have passed and I have been unable to secure a job despite attending several interviews. At the time of writing I am about to embark on yet another internship. Nevertheless I am positive about the future. I feel liberated from my previously unrealistic career expectations and have undoubtedly learned a lot in the past year and a half. It is not that I no longer retain the same ambitions as before rather that now I realise how hard I will have to work to realise them, and how much time it will take.

My experience as an intern has been mixed. I have gained some good skills and like most I have had some unpleasant experiences. However I think it would be unfair and ungrateful of me to express bitterness – though I have in the past. Pursuing a career you like is not easy and nor should it be. There is a sense in which many graduates had unrealistic hopes about the ease with which they would walk into the career of their dreams. These were largely fuelled by the advice of previous generations who had lived and worked through happier times. The recession took many by surprise but we should remember that the healthy state of the economy which preceded it was abnormal, as was the ease with which middle class graduates, particularly in the arts, secured employment. I think that those campaigning for the rights of interns are fighting a noble cause – the system is in many ways profoundly unjust. I also think that interns (myself included) should refrain from expressing the sort of bitterness which could be and is often interpreted as privileged whining (‘I didn’t complete my degree to make coffee!’) – not least because it is counter productive to the wider cause, that of improving social mobility.

Incredible! Internships raised twice at Prime Ministers Questions today!

First Milliband challenged the PM on selling city internships then Hazel Blears popped up to praise an internship scheme run in Parliament which pays the London Living Wage.

Have a gander here.

Mapping Unpaid Interns

As part of a project on the exploitation of interns the fantastic Rebecca Hughes has been mapping every unpaid intern ad posted by an MP since January. The map speaks for itself, with every party, from every part of the country implicated. It’s a fantastic visual use of data.

Check out her website here.

View MPs and constituencies adverting for unpaid interns in a larger map

Remember what Philip Hammond said about unpaid internships…

It seems an appropriate time to remind ourselves what Tory transport secretary Philip Hammond said about unpaid internships, and the flouting of NMW law in his own office, a year or so ago:

[it’s] an abuse of tax-payers funding to pay for something that is available for nothing

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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