There are loads of people with horrible experiences as interns but my story is different. I graduated with a history degree from the LSE last year and spent 3 months searching for an entry-level job. I have some work experience but not really a lot and given the economic situation I wasn’t very optimistic. I didn’t apply for any internships because they were mostly unpaid and although my parents proposed to support me financially I decided to try it on my own. I became really desperate and applied for any jobs even those for which I was clearly over-qualified and which, to be honest, I’m quite sure I would have dropped out fast.
Anyways, I am now an intern at Which?, fully paid (though minimum wage) and able to support myself financially here in London. I have enough money to pay the rent, buy food and go to the cinema once in a while. I don’t really go out and I had some savings with which I bought a bike to avoid further transport costs. I find it horrible that graduates should work for free and I find it even more horrible that some people do. While I understand their desperation it is simply not fair as it only feeds into the system of exploitation. Nevertheless I acknowledge that I am extremely lucky. The staff are awesome – they are nice and treat you like their equal. Also, I get the same benefits as every other employee (pension and reductions on many purchases). And unlike interns in other companies I get to do proper work like everybody else here: I am currently doing economic research in finance and renewable energy, attend all the staff meetings and can join other team members when they meet MPs to lobby or consult with other companies or organisations.
I think companies that claim that they don’t have money are often just lying – which?’s only income is through the sales of their magazine. They don’t make a huge profit and most of the profit they do make goes back into funding their market research and paying their employees a decent wage. I can only recommend it as a great place for work experience and can only hope that other companies and organisations will follow the lead and pay their graduates appropriately.