Here in Ireland, I recently completed an internship in a small government-funded arts centre and am now currently interning in the National Gallery in Ireland. In the latter place, I was required to work between 35 and 40 hours a week, drive back and forth from my home which is 30 miles each way, spend over €50 a week on petrol, work most Friday and Saturday nights yet was entitled to a mere €100 a month on transport, which I only received four times out of the eight months I managed to stay there! Nobody was terribly friendly the entire time I was there and instead I endured endless nights of rubbish poetry readings, crap singers, plays and performances attended by all those enjoying their nights out with their friends and family!
The scheme I was on is called a Work Placement Programme and is devised by Fás, an employment agency here in Ireland. This so-called scheme is to allow graduates and desperate jobseekers to work in their desired area to gain vital experience for full-time employment. What started out over a year ago as an interesting opportunity has turned greedy employers, keen to save a few bob into unkind, opportunistic gobshites, dumping excessive workloads on once-enthusiastic graduates. It has gone to shit with fellow peers in the same situation relaying stories of how some are getting grilled for up to an hour in interviews for these ‘opportunities’, others getting rejected for someone with more experience despite it being billed as a learning role and finding what can only be described as junior managerial roles advertised on the site. There is no regulation and it is complete and utter exploitation. I undertook the job to gain experience in my field as I’ve a BA in Fine Art and a HDip in Arts Management and so far, have received more P.F.O. (Please Fuck Off) letters and e-mails from paid jobs, I don’t know where to go! Thank God, my current internship is a great deal sounder, is with a fantastic institution and takes a mere two and half days a week, while at the same time I try and finish my Masters degree, in the hope that someone out there sees that I’ve done my time and is willing to part with their space change and pay me for once!