Monday, 10 January 2011

Unpaid interns

Gah, internships. Currently depressing myself by reading interns anonymous for horror stories of over eager graduates getting stomped on by beluga caviar demanding employers. For anyone that comes here in search of refuge, nestle in my warm bosom whilst I tell you I have only ever had good experiences in all of my internships.
That's not true: but whilst there have been some dodgy moments, I have never had to:

  • make coffee; infact, they always offer to make it for me, which I naturally refuse because I am English and therefore overly polite to the point of labarador-esque obedience
  • fix a dishwasher, toilet, or any equipment which requires some sort of vocational training
  • pick up or order lunch
  • clean any kind of surface: mop: vacuum: empty bins
  • complete tasks without any kind of direction (sample from my friend interning for a politician: get me those figures on the commission! It was her first day. Three months on and she still hasn't got him those figures. he hasn't noticed)

However, on the dark side of the moon, which I'm using as a phrase similar to: 'on the other side of the coin' (It works, kind of) I have:

  • after being told I couldn't help with anything else, sat at a desk for three hours. After going home twenty minutes early, got hauled into the office and bollocked. Which made me cry (quietly, and in the loos)
  • had over a hundred calls to make in one hour for a radio show
  • got sent home three days into a two week internship, because there was: 'nothing for me to do
  • constantly being told from everyone in the industry, it's dying, only the established make it (which doesn't logically make sense: they've got to die one day), you need hundreds of contacts, you need an MA, you need rich parents

It's the really the naysayers that are the worst. My advice? When they tell you it's impossible, it's usually due to a fierce over-protectiveness of their industry, similar to a golden eagle defending her eggs. Take that and let it make you stronger. Keep plugging. Sometimes it's best to find a smaller company who can spend more personal time with you, however, a big name company looks good on the ol' CV, and one of the big brands that I interned for let me publish a coupla things online.

Send in a written cv - it looks more thoughtful than an email

Follow your application up. Call, and don't get discouraged by any inevitable rudeness. A follow-up call to Tatler was pretty much the most condescending anyone has ever been to me. Well done, Tatler, because word of mouth travels fast, and what I thought may be a false reputation of an office full of over-priviledged trustafarians has been proved all too true.

You don't need rich parents. It helps and it will be hardcore if you go it alone but it can be done. Try to intern in a nearby city rather than fleeing to London. You can live at home, and free travel means low costs that hopefully be managed by a part-time job.

I know that this statement in itself is disingenous. It took me a long time to get even a menial job; unfortunately, graduates aren't first choice for retail/restaurant, as they assume you will be temporary and any training will be wasted on you. Try a temping agency, and once you've worked for a certain establishment a couple of times they might be keen to cut the cost of the agency and put you on the books.

Keep in touch with everyone. I know we British are very uncomfortable with schmoozing and brown-nosing, so think of it as keeping contact with work friends rather than advancing your career. I got an interview for a big-pay job after shooting off an email to an office I did work experience for (unfortunately, I didn't get it)

If anyone has any tips or experiences they;d like to share, chime in, please

Bon chance!