Guardian Careers held an online chat with us as one of the ‘experts’, it was really interesting and I recommend you take a look at everyone’s comments. As usual some really negative and really positive accounts of internships and some in between. The main problem we have with unpaid internships continues to be that they are closed off to people who don’t come from rich backgrounds and who therefore can’t afford to live in London, Manchester, Cardiff or wherever for months on end with no wage. This has not changed and won’t until people who deserve a wage are getting paid a wage.
HOWEVER, we’ve been thinking in a different way about this lately and I wonder what you think- alongside representing all of the bad stuff about internships (which we love doing), we’re also keen to emphasise what you people can do to avoid the internship catch-22 situation- how you can think about the job search in a different way and take control of your own prospects. For example, Alex (IA co-founder) applied to his current really great graduate scheme job on the strength of the work he has done setting up and promoting Interns Anonymous. Other people we’ve been in touch with, have started up their small businesses after becoming exhausted and bankrupted by the internship treadmill. And someone else has set up her own mini-charity because she was fed up with interning as an office assistant- so she now works in an office for a wage and does what she wants to do out of hours.
We’d really like to get interns and graduates together- in person!- to think about different ways to find jobs, different ways to make money, different ways to get experience- which is why we’re in the early stages of thinking about a series of get togethers, which will feature an interesting speaker, hopefully free booze and a really sociable environment- so that you can talk to each other, come up with ideas and find out about opportunities that are not internships. Although we’re hoping to find sponsorship the events will probably have to cost something to cover venue hire, possible speakers’ fee- we’d like to gauge interest so please do let us know what you think.
Thoughts on a postcard or in the comments box please-and have a look at the Guardian comments and debates here.