Archive for the 'Arts' Category

IdeasTap has some exciting opportunities for y’all

The arts charity IdeasTap is looking for an arts or media intern to write a weekly anonymous column about their experiences at the bottom rung of the career ladder. Whether you’re interning as a journalist, PR, on a film set or in a theatre, they want to hear from you. The winner will be paid £100 per 500-word column. Intern X will be taking over from IdeasMag’s current anonymous columnist, Actor X.

Applicants must be interning regularly in order to be eligible, as the column will run for an indefinite period of time. It is fine to complete several internships during your reign as columnist, as long as the placements more or less follow each other. Apply here Applications close on Tuesday 22 November at 5pm.

IdeasTap is a creative network and funding body for emerging arts talent, and IdeasMag is their in-house publication, featuring interviews with successful creatives and advice on making it in the arts. They are also currently recruiting two paid office interns– one in editorial, another in development.

Women’s mags: not all lip gloss and smiles

I have been interning at a variety of magazines since graduating from university last year. Currently I’ve been seeking internships in women’s mags as that is my chosen field. It’s a really competitive area, but when I managed to land a 5 week placement with a well-known mag – ohmygod so excited! I knew the name would look great on my CV. I was super excited but that excitement quickly wore off once I got there.

My first day, I was eased in. Logged in the new beauty products that had come in for the team, called and e-mailed some PRs about samples and press releases and the (never done before) activity of getting the lunch for the boss. I know as an intern I’m expected to do the dirty work, do the things the paid can’t be bothered to do but really? I was interning in a building which happens to have an assortment of food places situated at the bottom – several floors down. It would have taken her FIVE minutes to get in the lift, walk out the door and into the take-away but nope, instead she handed me £10 and asked me to buy her some lunch. I was cool with that, thinking it was a one off – it happened again the next day too.

Now the beauty team claim to REALLY need an intern, they are supposed to be an important part of the team. First of all, my desk was nowhere near the teams, I was given no temporary e-mail, had to use my own personal one which created problems at later dates when contacting PRs. The team were nice enough but the work…there wasn’t much.  At a push, I was busy for half to 3/4 of the morning with logging the new products and then would have to spend most of the day asking for something to do.

During the time I actually spent with the team I asked to leave early on a few occasions – once because of the riots, another for a family member’s birthday and I was REALLY sick in my third (and final) week. They knew I wasn’t feeling too hot, but they didn’t care. I was told I couldn’t leave early on a Wednesday (it was blatant I wasn’t well and shouldn’t have really gone in but I did still) until I had finished everything. I finished as much as I possibly could and was finally allowed to leave at 3pm – not really worth it but I was home and in bed by 4:30pm. I called in sick for the Thursday as I wanted to get better but when I e-mailed my superior to say I was feeling rough, I received an angry reply about how I’d had too much time off and asked to send over the information for some props for a shoot – not ‘hope you feel better, see you Friday.’

I didn’t even rest on that day as I was on the phone trying to find a prop, which was much harder to find than anticipated. The Beauty Director finally e-mailed me at 4pm to say ‘don’t worry, we have some – for free.” WHAT, I’d spent the entire day on the computer and phone, not sleeping and resting to battle my cold. 

The Friday morning I came in to a desk piled up with products – completely unnecessary to be honest. They could have neatly put all of the new bags to one side of my desk but they had just thrown them all over the chair and computer area which meant I had to spend the first ten minutes of my morning cleaning up the desk so I could actually GET to my computer. The team arrived gone 10am and I was promptly asked to go downstairs to get a Starbucks for one of the writers – a Starbucks she would have just walked past. I spent the afternoon of that Friday doing absolutely nothing, I’d asked around 5 times for something but there was nothing.

The icing on the cake was that the director strolled into the office at 5:30pm after being on a shoot all day and interviewing a celebrity. Instead of talking to me, she was met by one of the fashion team where they tried on some new shoes for a wedding and gossiped about the celebrity etc – during office hours. The previous day the director had asked to chat with me, now if it was something important you might put it higher on your list than trying on your Jimmy Choos and gushing about your wedding next year!

I left the office gone 6pm as I had just been sitting idly for the previous two hours, waiting to talk to my superior. She was busy chatting about a famous singer so I didn’t see it my place to interrupt an important conversation…I checked my e-mail that Friday evening to find I had been fired. She had emailed me at 7:30pm to say I had made dozens of mistakes (she only gave one example), that I had asked to leave early too many times (3 times over 3 weeks) and in general I wasn’t enthusiastic or hard working enough. 

I was GUTTED. I take my placements as a job, professional and I always do my best. She hadn’t bothered to even say hello to me when she eventually strolled in yet I was being told I was the one not making an effort? She had even made it seem like I was trying to steal expensive products form the cupboard (wouldn’t even imagine doing such a thing). I replied to her e-mail that night but guess what? It’s been nearly two weeks and she hasn’t contacted me. I had to phone the assistant in the end to get some answers – I didn’t think you could really be booted from an internship for not being chatty enough. 

I would love to warn people about this person but unfortunately I can’t do it on my own blog without sabotaging my future career. If I had been making obvious mistakes then why had no one informed me before? I have always thought that internships are for learning and to be taught but I wasn’t taught anything. The only thing I’ve come away with is my confidence in a pile of rubble. They didn’t help me in the slightest and I just needed to get this out there!


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!)

How can a museum with a public subsidy of £40m and self-generated income of £30m get away with not paying their interns at least NMW?!

The museum in question is the Victoria & Albert museum.

They expect their intern to work for them at least six months, four days per week, seven hours a day.

What makes this job advert so interesting is the brazen acknowledgement of the current problems graduates and finding when trying to secure jobs in the arts. They write:

However, with jobs in the cultural sector at a premium, and many graduate students unable to secure job interviews without demonstrable work experience, the experience offered through this internship is invaluable, and past interns have gone on to secure a variety of posts in the cultural sector.

Is this a threat? Is it goading? Are they saying that without this internship you won’t be able to get your dream job? Positions like these only perpetuate the problem!

The advert can be found here: V&A Internship.

Victoria and Albert - hardly a work of art themselves.

Victoria and Albert - hardly a work of art themselves.

Youth Ambassador

I work for a museum as a Youth Ambassador and am unpaid. I was brought in to try to engage the youth and entice them through the doors.

I work closely with the museum’s curator, who is really lovely and happy to have me there. I largely work independently and am trying to build a website, and organise events. This was terrifying in the beginning, as I felt that I had no idea what I was doing. 4 months on, I am beginning to feel more at ease.

There have been some discouragement, such at when talking to some museums they have declared that they don’t want young people to come to ‘their’ museums, that they don’t have a place at them. I think this is ludicrous, because most of these museums are publically funded and if they cut themselves off from these people they are not provided the service they have been entrusted to do.

I think that being an intern is now a right of passage into the job market. Having a first class degree isn’t enough anymore – you’ve got to prove you’ll will to be a slave in order to get a job now.

The Music Business

In mid-April we caught up with a former intern at a national orchestra who has managed to land a job with the same company he interned for. This is what he had to say about his experiences in the education and fundraising departments.

Q: Where are you working now?

A: I’m working for an Orchestra.

Q: And what do you do?

A: I work in the education department.

Q: Brilliant, how did you get that job?

A: I started off as an intern in the fundraising department. And I soon realised that I didn’t want to do fundraising so I asked to help out in music education whilst I was doing my internship. Then a part-time role came up. So when I finished my internship I started doing that and I never left.

Continue reading ‘The Music Business’

It’s Grim Up North

Opera North is offering a Chorus and Orchestra Internship working within the Music Department of England’s only national opera company based in the North, for up to 11 months.

Working alongside the Chorus and Orchestra Managers, the successful applicant will provide administrative support with the opportunity to take responsibility for set projects.

Candidates must be computer literate and able to carry out varied administrative tasks with a good eye for detail. This is the ideal opportunity for anyone looking to pursue a career within arts administration.

This position is voluntary but lunch and travel expenses will be paid.

One of our readers – who wants to get into arts administration is aghast.

I would like to anonymously highlight this internship at Opera North, which came to my attention because the organisation specifically targeted postgraduate students.

It worries me greatly that such prestigious organisations think it is somehow acceptable to offer this sort of unpaid work to talented postgraduates looking to progress in arts administration. It is one thing to offer part time voluntary opportunities, or low-paid full-time work, but this full-time voluntary position guarantees that only certain types of people will be able to access this position and it completely undermines all the good work done by the national minimum wage. Talented graduates have so much to give, why are some members of staff being paid over £30k when these hard-working ‘volunteers’ will not be paid anything?

Interns Anonymous couldn’t agree more.

This will do nothing to dispel the feeling that Opera is an elitist pursuit. Who but the most privileged could afford to work a full time job without pay for 11 months? Opera North should have a lot of explaining to do.

PR lets the side down again


I thought I’d share some of my experiences with you lot…

Since graduating from a red brick uni in 2009, I have done 3 separate internships, none of which have led me to a job. I was hoping to get into the Art PR world. I am not anymore.

One of the internships was great – I was working on a broadcasting event where I was told to only work hours I could manage around part time work. I was given responsibility and was clearly a valued member of a team. In addition, my travel expenses were repaid and although I was struggling for money, as I had to cut my working hours to part time (I was also working in a call centre) I was still able to pay rent and it was definitely worth it. 

Internship number 2 was very different…

Continue reading ‘PR lets the side down again’

Shooting yourself in the foot?

An Event on Film and Television Internships

Date: Thursday 18th March
Time: 7:00pm
Location: The University of London Union, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HY (nearest tube stations: Goodge Street & Russell Square)

In the wake of the recent London Dreams case, which retrospectively awarded an unpaid intern the National Minimum Wage for the hours she worked on a feature film, there has been much debate within the industry about the effect this decision will have. Does the verdict represent the long-overdue protection desperately needed by the industry’s most vulnerable workers, or the death of creativity and collaboration which often provides a stepping stone for those who are new to the industry? Should it be viewed as a victory or a disaster..? 

Continue reading ‘Shooting yourself in the foot?’

Gallery Girl

I graduated in July 2009 having already done a substantial amount of work experience in between university engagements. I went straight into an internship as a gallery assistant at a contemporary art gallery in East London. I was paid expenses up to £10 a day. However I worked with them for two months (July & August) and did not receive my August expenses payment until December. I have to say I learnt a great deal in this time; in my final week I was actually the manager of the gallery (the manager of the gallery was at this time still an unpaid intern herself, but with the promise of paid work when her 6 month internship was complete).

In September I began a six-month internship at a major national museum, working on exhibitions with six other interns. I am the youngest (I’m 21) and least educated (I only have a BA). I am also the only one still living with my family. As I am only required to work four days per week, I began another internship (in the absence of a job and with the need to do something else other than this first internship), at a small local authorities gallery. This second internship has been incredibly rewarding; I have been able to co-curate an exhibition which has been a fantastic opportunity to complete, and this organisation has always been very grateful and supportive of the work I have done for them.

Continue reading ‘Gallery Girl’

Arts internships: chance of a lifetime or cut-price labour?

A great article in the Guardian this morning referencing the Arts Groups recent report on unpaid internships.

A young acquaintance of mine recently got her first paid job in theatre. She left university two and a half years ago and, since then, has worked part-time in a bar, while also undertaking a series of unpaid or expenses-only work experience placements and internships. Six, to be exact. Now approaching her mid-twenties, she has just got her first salaried employment in the arts. She counts herself lucky, even though it is only a part-time job. She knows people who have been working unpaid in theatres and companies even longer.

Unpaid work has become the accepted route into the creative professions. The Arts Council’s jobs website is awash with such unpaid opportunities, and there are theatres and companies who have become over-reliant on this free graduate labour and couldn’t run without it. Effectively it has become institutionalised.

Well done Lyn Gardner and well done the Arts Group.

Playing it cool

As an intern on a national newspaper I often have to pinch myself when that magical beep allows me through the security gates every morning, just being in the building is enough to make the experience worthwhile most of the time. Despite this though, it is often very tough. When the initial buzz of being party to an industry you’ve spent so long daydreaming about wears off, the reality of working long hours for no money can be extremely difficult – both mentally and physically.

One of the hardest parts of being an intern with no salary is getting up early and getting home late, spending long hours completing tasks which are essential to the running of your section all the while knowing that you’re not being paid for your efforts – a knowledge that leaves me feeling demoralised and demotivated at the end of a long week. Although my editor is supportive and often allows me opportunities to write and gather content for the section, when the office gets busy lines get easily blurred and it becomes very easy for employers to forget an intern is there to gain experience, not make cups of tea and deliver scripts around the building. What becomes so ultimately heart-breaking about the entire intern experience is the knowledge that when my time is up here, i’ll be just the latest in a long line of interns who’ve gone before me, despite how much I impress.


Internships are a balancing act

Which leads me to the-near impossible balancing act that interns know only too well -the fine line between appearing enthusiastic, dedicated and available and being dubbed the irritating, over-cheerful suck up, the latter of which ought to be avoided at all costs. Even after you master the art of making an impression while staying out of the way, there remains the simple fact that no matter how hard you try, chances of getting a job are pretty much non-existent, as every editor/reporter/cafe attendant will tell you.

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.


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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