Archive for June, 2012

Graduate Talent Pool – still unreliable, still dodgy

We have taken the original post down for the moment…

Internships and PhDs in the humanities: notes from the USA

This article was written by Sofia Rasmussen, who has written a lot of great stuff about PhDs, internships and jobs – this gives us an idea of what interns experience in the USA

Not all internship experiences will be great. In fact, most won’t be. Sure, it’s a line on a resume, something to bolster your academic career or add legitimacy to your online phd programme and maybe you’ll get hands-on experience in the field you hope to make permanent someday. But, with properly tempered expectations, participants can and will make it through them. Know that the average internship is underpaid, if paid at all, and those The Devil Wears Prada horror stories are based in reality. Interns are treated poorly, looked down on, stuck in mail rooms and warehouse positions with little to do with the actual industry.

An intern at Anne Bowen, who would prefer to remain nameless, reflects on her experience, “As design assistant, I had the honor of working very closely with Anne herself. On a day to day basis, I was expected to cater to her every whim (which included dropping everything at any time to do what she deemed as more important), clean up her dog’s droppings from the carpet, and change light bulbs, all while single-handedly managing any and all production and making sure deadlines were met and dresses were beaded.” For a student planning a career in fashion, it’s hard to see what true knowledge is gained by changing light bulbs and cleaning up after a dog.

A grad student who goes only by Jane said of the internship program in clinical psychology at  Alliant National University, “The APA internship match rate is a joke. You will not get a decent job after completing 5 years of doctoral training here. Plus you may never graduate because they abuse and dismiss students. Some of the programs have a 50% attrition rate too.” This is one of the biggest internship problems: despite long hours and hard training, you’re no closer to your career than you were before you stepped through the doors.

Gawker was privy to a leak from the New York Sun’s Guidelines for Interns:  “Internships will be terminated for any intern who, between 6pm and the end of the press run, fails to answer calls to his or her mobile phone for more than 30 minutes. It is therefore recommended that subway rides of more than 30 minutes be avoided.”

That’s not a dramatization of the intern experience at the New York Sun; it’s an element of the internship that the magazine freely admits. The magazine also warns interns in their manual that any intern who even asks about a byline, let alone complains, will be terminated. Not really any impetus to stick with a career in publishing.

It’s no secret that a bad interning experience can break a potential career. Though some internships do turn into full time job offers, and there are dozens of companies with great internship programs that an intern would be happy to take long term, it’s important to view the average internship as a learning experience. Have hope! Even the worst internship comes with one huge plus: when you go into an interview, and you’re asked about the worst working conditions you’ve ever had, you’ll have an answer. And a solid one at that.

At an unpaid internship at a designer label

I was…

>> forced to work over 8 hours a day – sometimes over 10 hours a day (they made me sign a contract in which I had to agree with this)

>> given no payment, no meals, no accommodation, no transport money

>> forced to be available to work on public holidays and week-ends

>> given hard physical, mindless or non-educational work(such as tidying-up)

>>  not given proper training

>> advised by the supervisor not  to ask any questions related to their work as it disturbs them and makes me too nosey

>> not (in the least) to expect a job offer

>> to treat my employer with great kindness and gratitude

>> not even thanked for my work after working at least 480 hours for a profit making company

>> sent on dozens of errands lasting almost all day – even when it was pouring with rain at 10 degrees – with two 20kg heavy suitcases to pull

>> given a letter of recommendation that did not mention the tasks that I HAVE done, but those that I have NOT done(the tasks that were not offered to me in the first place)

>> given a letter of recommendation that makes it look like I have refused to do tasks given to me(which is not the case, since they were just not given to me) and underlines knowledge that I lack, rather that my skills and capabilities

>> after spending hard labour and at least over £1200(money for accommodation, transport and food) on this 3 month internship, giving the company valuable material to make profit on, I was given nothing to help further my career

Generally at this company:

>> when sick, interns still come to work and take painkillers as not to attract attention

>> many interns keep quiet about bad treatment and many hours of no sleep as not to ruin their career

>> the interns have no one to legally support them when they are not even given a decent letter of recommendation

The small UK company is a high fashion label of the fashion industry that “employs” about 15 interns per year. Its owner has only one permanent employee.

This is not only about no wages, but about bad immoral treatment, modern day slavery. I was treated with no respect and it made me feel worthless, even though I know they have gained so much from the work I have done for them. Is this humane? Is this legal?

We need to put an end to this! Please monitor internships and set-up a representative that fights for or rights and black lists such companies!

Also graduates suffer – they don’t find any paid jobs because of all the free labour…

To whoever sent this email in – do get in touch (as anonymously as you like) as we’d like to help you out


Interns Anonymous

We want this website to be a forum for interns to share their experiences and discuss the ethics of unpaid employment. Most importantly, we want this site to be a place where YOU can tell us your story.

Disclaimer

Interns Anonymous accept no responsibility for the contents of the blog, comments or any other content on this site that is posted or provided by third parties. This website is designed to act as a forum for interns to share experiences and opinions about their work, therefore, we will not censor opinions we do not agree with. The opinions stated in blog contributions do not represent those of Interns Anonymous. We disclaim all liability for such content to the fullest extent permitted by law. If you have any queries please email us.

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