Letters from Ireland: not another fecking work placement programme

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!

(and breathe!)

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3 Responses to “Letters from Ireland: not another fecking work placement programme”

  1. 1 glenn_uk 04/18/2011 at 1:24 am

    Might be worth dropping a note to these people saying I’m not going to visit their slave plantation on my next tour of Ireland since this is the way they get things done. Better still, the Ireland tourist board should know me and the misses are going to another country altogether.

    This stiff interview process – I wonder if they mock up a genuine high-pressure atmosphere to make hopeful interns think they’re really getting in on a serious opportunity here, for which they should be breathlessly excited. That way, they might not cotton onto the fact they’re being stiffed, exploited, abused quite so fast.

    This crap has got to stop. What’s the point in having a minimum wage, if skilled staff get to undertake necessary work for a corporation and get nothing for it whatsoever? Has anyone checked if it’s even legal under European legislation? (Goes without saying British law gives it the thumbs-up)

  2. 2 IrishGraduate 04/22/2011 at 7:18 pm

    As a fellow Irish graduate, I relate and empathise with your predicemnt.

    I am from Dublin myself.

    On finishing my postgrad in May 2010, I went on over the next nine months to complete three ‘internships’ aka work for nothing, all with a view to receiving ‘experience’.

    In one internship, I had to write a report, which was sponsered by a well known Big 4 firm for €10,000. The launch even made the main broadsheets in Ireland.

    I rememeber going to the meetings / launch with the company and thinking to myself, ‘Do they actually know that this report was written by an unpaid ‘intern’ in a cold basement?’

    I remember the toilet overflowing on one occassion.

    It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so true!

    In any case, as with yourself, I would apply for paid jobs and mostly only receive PFOs, while in some interviews I attended, I had to respond to passing remarks about how I had no (paid)’experience’.

    There were others that were outright interrogation, questioning everything I said, ‘You didn’t do that, you were only an ‘intern’ ‘.

    Some in particular, pigeonholed me as X, even though I only had 6 months experience on my CV.

    At the moment, I’ve just started a paid job. Great, right? Well, without giving away any specifics, let’s just say that the job spec was very high (Good experience, postgraduate qualification, top grades, professional etc), but the pay is only €18,000 a year!

    I remember when I first read the job spec – especially the organisation that it is for – and then seeing the pathetic wage on offer and busting out laughing!

    But to honest, I’m desperate.

    It’s very demotivating that I earn only marginally more than the minimum wage after so many years at Uni and so much sacrifice in the ‘internships’ , but so it is.

    All I can say is things have improved by virture of the fact that although I’m still being de-facto exploted, at least I have a wage, as low as it may be!

    I have to be grateful.

    Remember OP, your’re not alone.

    Send me a mail if you want to have a chat!


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Interns Anonymous

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