I know it’s a bit late, but we wanted to share some of the highlights of 2010, and look forward to 2011.
During the past 12 months we’ve had a letter printed in the Times, met with both the Low Pay Commission (who investigate violations of the minimum wage) and the TUC, appeared on a 5-Live radio phone-in, were featured in a double page spread in the Daily Mail and got name-checked in a book – Shiv Malik and Ed Hawkers’ fantastic Jilted Generation.
More importantly we have heard from hundreds more interns about their experiences. Sadly the situation for graduates and unpaid workers doesn’t seem to be getting better.
A new government has come in and thus far have not shown an interest in internships. Nick Clegg did mention interns during the election campaign – a crack-pot idea to create 50,000 internships for unemployed young people. This was our most-read post during over the past year.
The graduate unemployment rate is still rising and tuition fees are set to increase – with no debate about the value of university education in getting a job.
Nick Clegg, worried about his liberal credentials in a Tory dominated government – has been given his own policy unit, with a special focus on social mobility. We wait with baited breath to see whether internships get a look in.
Some things are improving – more journalists are talking about the issue (even if their own newspapers continue to use unpaid interns), and some interns are standing up for themselves. The Independent is being sued by a combination of the NUJ and an intern who thought he should be paid for the several months work he did. Good luck to them, and we hope this sets a precedent for many more interns and ex interns.
Our second most popular post was also a newspaper intern horror story – this time from the Sunday Times. Our third most popular post detailed the experiences of interns at Proud Galleries. We have had a great response from other interns who have worked there, all the clichéd stuff – standing in for cleaning staff, no flexibility for interns with financial difficulties, unpleasant working environment. But some of our other posts have happy endings- lots of interns who have written to us go on to get jobs somewhere down the line and, luckily for us, some are inspired to keep speaking up about their experiences- so if you are interning, don’t despair!
What about our hopes for 2011? We are looking forward to a hard-hitting Low Pay Commission report in the next few months: something that really makes ministers understand the problems in the graduate job market. We also hope more young people will start saying enough is enough. We have had protests on the streets about student fees. But what about jobs? Or house prices? We hope everyone who cares- young and old- will become more emboldened, and a bit more organised. Otherwise nothing will change.
And our site? We will continue to plug away. Trying to get this issue in the newspapers, exposing bad practise and posting up your experiences.
We would also like this site to become a bit more personal. We’ll start posting under our own names, say a bit more about ourselves and our graduate experiences – and if anyone else wants to get on board…we really would welcome the help.
Happy new year!
Alex and Rosy