It can be a hard knock Life for Interns….
As I head into my third month of interning I am becoming increasingly aware of the debate about the ethics of unpaid internships. To me, this issue seems to be a rolling stone gathering a great deal of moss, with even PR Week in its New Year’s resolutions suggesting that unpaid internships, despite the current economic climate, can sometimes be exploitative. As an unpaid, expenses only graduate intern I feel that I am more than qualified to comment on this. With graduate debt increasing as well as graduate unemployment, not paying interns who contribute to a company does on some levels seem unfair. However the other side of the coin is that good internships in offices with great people (not ones where you are largely ignored and treated like some sort of skivy all in the name of ‘experience’) are worth their weight in gold (and worth the lack of a pay cheque). Clareville has given me no end of opportunities and a fantastic insight into how PR works. Not only are the people friendly, supportive and encouraging but they also allow me a level of responsibility that will be invaluable when I get a permanent role. I have been made to feel valued as a member of their team which, at a time when jobs are hard to get and rejection is rife, has prevented me from, at times, descending into a pit of despair. So although I understand and empathise with the argument that interns should be paid, my advice to all interns is to look at the bigger picture and perhaps focus on what your internships does for you. Definitely try to secure an internship at an agency or company where you will be treated well and with respect and above all consider the alternative … moping around the house watching endless episodes of the Jeremy Kyle Show and looking like a guppy fish when asked at job interviews ‘so what have you done since university?’. At a time when degrees mean less and less and your double first from Cambridge doesn’t even guarantee you a job, companies are having to sort the wheat from the chaff, and showing commitment with no commercial reward is a good way of proving yourself worthy of wheat status.