Archive for the 'Private Sector' Category

Photocopying and parties with the stars- internship at a media company

After my college graduation, I began my three month internship at a high profile media company. My job description was very general. The main tasks included going through the newspapers every morning and composing folders of all newspaper clippings related to the company and delivering them to the heads of each department. I also wrote numerous press releases for upcoming shows and series, but I often found myself jumping in for other people when and where needed. Sometimes this meant updating the press website, uploading pictures and rewriting press releases. At other times I updated the contact lists or made photocopies and ran various small errands.

The majority of the employees are in their twenties or early thirties and the atmosphere in the company is very laid-back and relaxed. Every Friday they throw themselves mini-receptions on the work floor. Everyone pitches in and two or three employees go out to get the booze and snacks. Around 5 pm everyone stops working and it’s time to start socialising! Work is sometimes discussed, but the majority of the time the conversations are about their personal lives and an absolute favourite is of course, ‘who’s doing who, where, when and how’.

The company lacked any form of hierarchy.  Everyone knows who the big boss is, but no one seems intimidated by him or any of the heads of the various departments. Jokingly insulting each other happens on a daily basis and I even witnessed the head of the department and one of the VJ’s re-enacting a scene from “Celebrity Death match”. The throwing of things (including full beer cans) across the room and into ventilators is considered extremely funny. Being in the middle of a scene like that, is like finding yourself in the middle of a ‘’Jackass’’ episode. The jokes told most often by the male colleagues, were always extremely vulgar to the point where they were sickening. One of the compny’s VJs, particularly enjoyed pulling down his pants and flashing everyone around him.

The contact between the colleagues of the Press office was anything but good. For a communications department, there was very little direct communication. Despite sitting right next to each other, all communication was done through email and issues or questions were never presented straight up. Despite the internal rivalries and horrific backstabbing scenes in the Communications department, there were also some great experiences.

I was able to attend the Kids Choice Awards and the TMF Game Awards, as a backstage crew member. These were amazing experiences and allowed me to see how such huge events are run from behind the scenes, backstage and inside the press rooms. Also very exciting, was when a Belgian rock-band came to play in our cafeteria and everyone was let off early to attend this private mini-concert. This was not the only time celebrities came to the office. Pop and rock stars were constantly walking in and out of the studio and it was not uncommon to find oneself face to face with the artist of the week.

Another great thing about working for the company is all the free goodies you get to take home, from simple key chains and stickers, to hats, t-shirts and bags, just to name a few. They were also incredible at organizing parties and everyone who’s anyone wants to be seen at these events. As an employee, you are of course also invited to these parties as a V.I.P. The amount of financial and time investment that goes into these events is simply amazing.

Looking back, my three month internship, allowed me to experience both the positive and negative aspects of working in this industry. I met new people, I experienced new things, I had to learn to deal with new situations, but most of all I believe it was a valuable experience, in that it gave me a chance to learn a lot about myself and what is that I am looking for in a future job.

A tale of two internships

It should be obvious but if you need convincing, here’s why you should pay interns:

Paid Internship in Public Sector

I started an internship in a central government department 3 months after graduation; I applied for the position through the Graduate talent pool. This internship was for a 3 month period (later extended to 6) and paid c. £24,000 pa (+ pension & standard civil service benefits). I really enjoyed my time there and felt that I learnt a lot; I was entrusted with important tasks and even given the opportunity to lead on certain high profile projects.

The team I worked with were very friendly and supportive. I was consistently involved in team and group meetings which enabled me to gain a greater understanding of my role and the workings of my team and the department. I was provided with clear guidance on what was expected of me, and was even supported in attending training courses and shadowing ministers/civil servants.

Unfortunately, I was told that, whilst the team would have liked to have kept me on, the fact that I was not recruited through standard civil service methods, and ongoing budget cuts and headcount reductions, made this impossible. Nonetheless, I feel that this (PAID) internship was incredibly valuable, and that it was an excellent example of all that internships should be about.

Unpaid Internship in Private Sector

After this I moved to London and sought full time employment, or just temping work. I was unsuccessful and after a few months I was offered an unpaid 3 month internship at a small private company in the centre of London. I have been in this position for about a month now. My transport expenses are paid and I am allowed a couple of pounds a day towards lunch.

The bulk of my work consists of simple administrative tasks but it obviously has a value as much of it is presented to clients. I have not been given particularly clear guidance on what is expected of me, nor on best practice within the sector. I have been repeatedly left out of team meetings and I feel that the opportunities to gain experience and improve my skills are very limited. I have found that I am considerably less motivated in this roll than in my paid internship, where I felt far more valued. Despite the fact that I am now haemorrhaging money living in London, I feel that I need to persist with this internship to demonstrate both private sector experience and commitment; even though the development prospects are limited and the employment possibilities virtually nil.

Soon after completing this internship the money I saved from the Civil Service internship will be gone, and I will not be able to continue living in London. I have continued to apply for paid positions whilst in this second internship, with no success. I am doubtful that this unpaid internship will have been worth the expense; it adds little to my CV. I am unsure what I will do if I am unable to find paid employment soon.

Which? route to take?

There are loads of people with horrible experiences as interns but my story is different. I graduated with a history degree from the LSE last year and spent 3 months searching for an entry-level job. I have some work experience but not really a lot and given the economic situation I wasn’t very optimistic. I didn’t apply for any internships because they were mostly unpaid and although my parents proposed to support me financially I decided to try it on my own. I became really desperate and applied for any jobs even those for which I was clearly over-qualified and which, to be honest, I’m quite sure I would have dropped out fast.

Continue reading ‘Which? route to take?’

Surely this is illegal? Or The Intern Industry keeps growing…

It should come as no surprise that in the same month that thousands of graduates are jettisoned from university into a fierce recession companies like ‘InternStar’ are being launched. Their reason for being: to find unpaid work experience for graduates without any prospect of work/ to find cheap labour for struggling businesses.

InternStar connects quality interns to internship opportunities in small- and medium-sized British businesses with exclusive access to some of the most ambitious and talented university candidates, young graduates and postgraduates.”

Continue reading ‘Surely this is illegal? Or The Intern Industry keeps growing…’

Human Touch

Work experience and internships are not just about adding that bit of glamour to your CV, or networking your way into a cushy graduate job. The benefits of meeting new people because they might be nice – rather than they might offer you a job are completely bypassed in the panic to prove yourself in the job market.

Continue reading ‘Human Touch’

Interns and business during the recession

The UK finds itself in the grips of a recession which shows no sign of passing any time soon and so businesses must ask themselves: is it the right time to use interns?

Continue reading ‘Interns and business during the recession’

A wage for all workers

Though I understand what motivates skilled graduates to take unpaid work, and that NGOs, the public sector, private companies (and pretty much everyone these days) take on interns to produce results within tight budgets, I believe that if these employers genuinely can’t afford to pay all of their workers they should face up to their fate and either downsize or go under! If not, they should be paying workers according to the law at national minimum wage. Continue reading ‘A wage for all workers’


Interns Anonymous

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