Archive for October, 2012

Sneaky unpaid work trial

Our correspondent wished to name the company and we cannot verify the details of their story

I applied for a ‘creative content trainee’ position with MEC in Manchester after finishing my degree. MEC are one of the world’s ‘leading’ media agencies and are owned by a very large American company. I had two interviews – at which we discussed my experience (of which I had little, only university projects) and my creative ideas for two clients they had at the time (how to help them with SEO/ drive traffic to the website). After passing these interviews I was invited to do a three day trial at the office. During these three days I worked 9-5, barely allowed myself a lunch break, and worked my butt off to find a lot of blogs they hadn’t already found, which they could use to host guest posts. I negotiated with bloggers, worked on the project in the evenings at home and contributed a much needed alternative and fresh perspective on the project at hand. When the three days finished I was shown the door and contacted a week later to say I was ‘not experienced enough’.

OK let me dig into this.

As a poor graduate with no income, three weeks rent for the whole assessment (from interview to final decision) is a bit of an inconvenience. They knew exactly how much experience I had, as we had discussed this in not one, but TWO interviews. The very fact that they advertised the role as trainee led me to believe that little experience was required in the first place. The most annoying part of this was that they had dragged the experience out, set me up to believe I was seriously being considered for the role, took all the work I had put in for them and said cheerio without paying me. I was so furious that they had blatantly used me that I replied to the head manager to ask why they had wasted my time and money, and could they please pay me for the three days I worked. I got no response.

Aside from this I found some of their practices dodgy. For example, I was asked to create a fake alias and gmail address with which to contact bloggers and websites. I expected to use a company email address or at least, I assumed the permanent staff in the team would. I was shocked to find they all had fake names, twitter and gmail accounts. Not very ethical for such a large company?  

I am certain they did this to a number of graduates as the post was advertised on their website for about 4 months. Getting unsuspecting and naive grads to undertake a three day work trial appears to be a little loophole they took advantage of – saving costs, and stealing fresh ideas they couldn’t think of themselves.

This was only three days, but I wanted to flag this company for the attention of other graduates thinking of applying to any MEC vacancies. Don’t waste your time and energy!

A two month long trial shift: fashion fails again

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse…we get this in the mail. Our correspondent included two tweets as screen shots, we are posting them because they asked us to. 

I have recently been unfairly dismissed from the owner of a design house because I told them they were being unrealistic with the volume of garments demanded to be produced per day… 

I started a ‘trial month’ that soon turned into a two month trial the day I started and later found that other graduates on trial had been there for three months or more.

I relocated because it was a requirement. I was told I had to work full time and was given no funding whatsoever. I was expected to pay for rent, bills, food and travel myself.

After the first few days it soon became apparent that there was only one full time paid member of staff. The rest were interns. I also met the owner of the company (for the first time) after 5 full days of work.

I was expected to work a minimum of 10 hours a day. We were never told what time to we would be allowed to leave in the evening until the last minute.

I was put on the production line immediately. With no training whatsoever I was making garments to be sold for profit.

Feeling concerned about the businesses set up (majority unpaid interns, looked like there were no job prospects despite being invited for a ‘trial period’) I broke down, told the design assistant that I had concerns. She asked the owner to speak to me. She saw that I had been crying… laughed at me and asked what was wrong. She then went on to say that she didn’t have time to see how everyone was feeling, she was always too busy. “I’m a cold heartless bitch, that’s just the way I am” As if I was just supposed to accept that and move on….

I decided to stick it out and hope things would get better…

 

They didn’t.

Last week, at the end of my third week working for the company I was asked to fill out a timetable that had been put on the wall for each intern. I explained that once I had made a certain style of dress I would know how many I could make in a day. Her response was “It’s not about how many you want to make in a day, it’s how many you HAVE to make. If you have 50 dresses to make in a day you have to make 50” I then explained that she was being unrealistic in her expectations and that it only made sense for me to put down as many as I could feasibly make in a day. She then went on to say “don’t argue with me I’ve been working in this industry for years” I started to walk away after saying that I couldn’t talk to her about this as she was being unreasonable. She then shouted at me “get your stuff together and leave, go home”

I was given no appreciation for the work I had completed. She didn’t care who I was, I was just a number. Free labour.

To add insult to injury she later put this on twitter…

Image

Seeing this was heart wrenching. I felt embarrassed and stupid. Having such a bad experience in an industry that I had previously felt so passionately about has almost put me off entirely. The worse thing is that evidently this happened before hence ‘another intern has been asked to leave’ yet most are too ashamed to tell anyone. I’m furious. Having met so many talented interns at this placement I am concerned that their hopes and dreams will be shattered too. 


Interns Anonymous

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