Archive for the 'Policy' Category

How’s about this for a good internship?

I wanted to share my experience of internships, for once it’s positive!

My story: after a period of indecision over my future following University along with lots of travelling abroad, I got an internship working for a group of public sector bodies. To give you an overview, they wanted to compile a report looking at how the region could adapt to the effects of climate change (increased flooding, higher temperatures, higher rainfall etc). They could’ve hired an environmental consultant who would’ve cost ££££, instead they wanted to help graduates get some experience, so they got 3 interns in.

I was given a set project: researching and writing case studies for the report over a 5 month period on 15 hrs a week (ed: this works out about 10 quid an hour). In return I got industry contacts, constant support, career advice, free training, goals for the project and they let me lead on organising a workshop for victims of flooding. What was even better was they paid me £3,000 for the whole thing and I worked from home, keeping costs down.

My view is we both got a lot of this arrangement. They got a solid piece of work at a low price and I got not just a job, but a career: I’ve since gone on to get full time employment in the climate change and environmental field off the back of this work.

It’s a fascinating area to work in and I’d never have thought of it as a potential role for me if it weren’t for this internship. Support, a small salary and supervision over a short time period is all graduates need, it’s not difficult. I want to encourage employers to see that internships can be incredibly productive for both parties; they just need to stop thinking that they can exploit the good will, hard work and knowledge of young people looking for a start in their lives.


Interns Anonymous needs YOU to influence future government policy

At the end of the month Intern Aware and Interns Anonymous will be meeting with representatives from the National Minimum Wage team at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills to discuss the guidance on and enforcement of the National Minimum Wage for Interns.

We are really interested in hearing about your experiences of internships. Are you doing identical work as paid employees? Are you producing reports and articles that are subsequently used and yet you receive no pay? Have you seen entry level jobs replaced with rolling internships?

We are especially interested in how employers have encouraged interns to work for no pay. Have you been promised a reference that has never appeared? Have you been promised paid work in the future? Have you even been threatened with blacklisting if you fail to complete an internship?

We need as much evidence as possible to convince the Government that this is a real and pressing problem and we want to hear from the widest possible group of interns. PLEASE HELP and email us- <internsanonymous at gmail.com>!

I know it's a cliche but you can't beat a bit of good old fashioned propaganda

Our letter to IPSA protesting unpaid parliamentary internships

On Friday 11th February Interns Anonymous and Intern Aware submitted a joint response to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority which regulates MPs Expenses. We considered the legal position of unpaid interns, whether internships hinder social mobility and whether internships are discriminatory.

Calling upon the latest case law, our own surveys and academic research we argue:

-    That nearly all Parliamentary interns are performing work and are therefore due the National Minimum Wage.
-    That internships exclude too many and shrink the gene pool of those able to work for MPs.
-    That since the resources necessary to undertake internships (access to contacts, access to London and access to money) are not equally distributed amongst people from different ethnic backgrounds and those with a disabilities, internships are a form of indirect discrimination. Consequently, any decision to continue to allow unpaid internships is incompatible with IPSA’s obligations under the Equality Act to promote equality of opportunity for all.

Our submission ends by concluding that:

We believe the best way to ensure that politics as a career is open to all and to ensure that MPs have excellent candidates to call upon when recruiting staff is for the present system to be abolished and replaced with paid apprenticeships run over the summer and Easter recesses [so student accommodation can be utilised for those not currently living in London].

To read our submission in full click here: Letter from Intern Aware and Interns Anonymous to IPSA

Why Interns Need a Fair Wage

We’ve been away on holiday for a week, so almost forgot to mention the fantastic report written by IPPR and our friends at Internocracy last week

Brilliant media coverage. Highlights here, here, here and here

It even included Uni Minister David Willetts saying:

…the exploitation of interns is unacceptable and employment legislation must not be breached

Parliamentary reformers forget about Interns

IPSA (the Independent Parliamentary Standards Association) have today published their new scheme for Parliamentary Expenses, back-tracking on their earlier proposal to make the payment of parliamentary interns mandatory within Parliament.

IPSA have said they will create a standard contract for the employment of parliamentary interns, but they won’t include payment. This still seems at odds with National Minimum Wage Laws. Only last week the Low Pay Commission reported on non-compliance with minimum wage laws in politics.

Phil Willis MP, who has been an ardent campaigner for interns’ rights, said:

Once inflation, contributions to National Insurance and staff pensions have been taken into account, staffing budgets are effectively reduced under the new scheme. Not only have IPSA failed to make payment for interns mandatory, but by reducing the resources available they have made it even less likely than MPs will be able to do so.

So not only have they decided not to comply with the law – they are also reducing the opportunities for young people to gain access to parliament.

Breaking News: +++ Low Pay Commission Reports on Unpaid Internships +++

The evidence we received on unpaid work experience indicates that there is systematic abuse of interns, with a growing number of people undertaking ‘work’ but excluded from the minimum wage.

It is becoming increasingly commonplace in certain sectors, particularly the media, entertainment industry and in politics, for employers to demand a period of unpaid work experience as a means of getting into the industry. The Government’s Fair Access to the Professions report highlighted the issue of unpaid internships and how they serve to limit career choices to those who can afford to work unpaid and those who live near London.

We further encourage BIS as part of this work to engage directly with the sectors in which lengthy unpaid internships have become the norm. We invite BIS to present its proposed strategy to us by the summer.

The Low Pay Commission Report can be read here.

More to follow…

NUJ to update work experience/intern guidelines

A new set of guidelines will soon be launched for news and media organisations that take interns and work experience students.

The guidelines, designed by the National Union of Journalists and industry training organisation Skillset, will be a guide for employers to protect young journalists from exploitation. The two groups have re-evaluated previous guidelines from 2007 in response to a rise in the number of graduates who feel compelled to work for little or no wage.

“While most people we raise this with recognise the problem exists, most are surprised by the extent to which major media organisations are relying on free labour,” said NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear last year.

A sentiment many readers of this site will agree with.

Is a Degree worth £20,000?

The Guardian writes:

“Up to 30,000 applicants could be turned away from universities this summer following a surge from mature students attempting to escape the recession.”

But given that a degree is now often not enough to get entry level graduate positions, is it really worth forking out £20,000 to pay your way through a university education?

Will a succession of internships be more beneficial? Sadly for those unable to find a university this summer, most internships only advertise for recent-graduates. Catch 22. Only those already indebted to the tune of thousands are allowed to undertake unpaid work for months and months.

Guardian article: The eternal Intern? No Thanks

Rachel Bowen has written an article for the Guardian on her internship experiences.

As my European experience draws to an end and I reflect on my year as an intern, I can only feel angry that despite gaining valuable experience, I appear to be as unemployable as when I graduated last summer. I am not doubting the value of internships – I know I have learned useful skills and more about my own capabilities in the past year than I did in 16 years of education, and I am immensely grateful to all the people who have given me a chance to prove myself and provided an insight into different careers. What I am concerned about is that internships are simply seen as another hoop for already debt-ridden graduates to jump through and that, although they may lead to higher future returns later in a career, from where I stand at the moment they seem to stall rather than launch that career.

But enough is enough; I have made a promise to myself that my days as an intern are over. I am no longer prepared, and I cannot afford, to let my skills be exploited for free. I am ready for a real challenge, real responsibility and perhaps most important, a real salary …

I’d be interested to know if her frustration is shared by other interns- let us know!

If people want to work unpaid, we shouldn’t stop them

I have read some of the articles about interns and I do agree that you need resources to be able to do an unpaid internship for any length of time and this does discriminate against less privileged members of society. However, in my area of work with international students, we find that internships are so important to them, they will save money from their student jobs and do menial jobs at weekends, whilst doing placements, in order to be able to fund the experience.

It is increasingly evident that without experience, it is very difficult to get career progression, particularly in industries like the Arts, Media, Finance etc. Unpaid experience is often the only way to bolster a C.V. and give the graduate a chance to get on the first rung of their chosen career ladder. Large companies do have structured placement schemes and many can afford to pay minimum wage, but for most small and medium sized enterprises, paying an intern is beyond their budget. Employers also feel that time is needed to dedicate to raw recruits and that the experience they will have will be invaluable and build up much needed practical knowledge, work skills and understanding of business.

Continue reading ‘If people want to work unpaid, we shouldn’t stop them’

I don’t see a penny of it

I am 23 years old, graduated two years ago and am currently on my second internship. I do a full 42.5 hour week for a public affairs organisation, and I pretty much get given anything that’s going spare….in short I’m completely disillusioned with the political scene.

I am proud that we have a minimum wage in this country, however a lot of companies bypass the law by offering “internships” which amount to unpaid full time work. I am doing this internship in a desperate attempt to get some paid work. I am in a very bad financial situation because of it, and I’m unsure how I will pay my rent and other bills at the end of next month. Something seems seriously wrong about this, I have a degree yet I’m only good enough to work for free? Where else in the world would refined educated knowledge go for free? 

The company I currently work for clearly need the labour, they’re just not prepared to pay for it. The work that I do for free is sent to a paying client and I don’t see a penny of it. I don’t see how this can be legal and I don’t understand why no one has done anything to rectify it. In light of this could someone please provide an answer to the following questions:

Is the concept of an “internship” legal?

If not, can I claim any money from my employer?

Will anyone adhere to or enforce this country’s minimum wage rules and stop this blatant exploitation of young labour?

Worcester University develops new paid internship scheme

The Independent has published an article about Worcester University’s new paid internship scheme. Graduates get paid to do 4 days a week interning in a local business and spend the other day gaining a qualification in business. Good thinking from the Vice Chancellor David Green- he managed to channel money from various funds into this scheme, whilst the government are still umming and aaahhing- rather than acting. The scheme allows students to get work experience, an extra qualification and to avoid further…debt. 

 

Clever David Green- Vice Chancellor of Worcester Uni

Clever David Green- Vice Chancellor of Worcester Uni


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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