A little while ago I wrote a post called Under 25 and underemployed: an open letter to David Cameron, because most bloggers seem to write at least one open letter not actually intended for its subject. In it I griped about the Conservative slogan ‘for hardworking people’. I talked about, among other things, the fact that ‘hardworking’ doesn’t always mean ‘making money’ – for example, with regard to unpaid internships.
And as for “leaving us to our own devices”: by this, I presume you mean prancing around council houses marvelling at our lack of responsibility, or drinking White Lightening in a parking lot, or whatever other lazy stereotype you can come up with. I know the word of the moment for you is ‘hardworking’*. I also know that you must have no imagination, because you don’t seem to be able to conceive of any sort of effort that would qualify someone for any other category than ‘hardworking’ or ‘lazy’. In your speech, and everywhere else, you equate ‘hardworking’ with ‘earning money’. You don’t recognise that someone could work hard and not be paid for it – which would be a perfectly reasonable assumption if you were naive enough to think that thousands of companies have replaced salaried workers with unpaid interns and you weren’t Prime Minister of Great Britain.
Something your government is failing to regulate, by the way.
It should be apparent to anyone reading this that I am extremely wary of unpaid internships. A great number of them are highly exploitative and are being used illegally as a source of free labour. Chances are, if a company recruits interns for a month or more at a time on a rolling basis and needs them for their business to function, the internship is illegal.
In an ideal world I’d love for all internships to be paid, though I recognise that there is at the moment a place for unpaid, short term work experience or internships where interns are provided with actual experience and training.
You can imagine my incredulity, then, when I received a 400-word comment from someone advertising a paid-for internship service. The company has a starting price of £1400 for participation in the month-long internship programme. Included in that fee is accommodation, visa and lessons – but the internship is unpaid.
I thought I’d share it below, because it made me giggle. I’ve redacted the name of the company – if you really want to know, you can probably find out using Google.
PRs take note: this blog is not a vehicle for your self-promotion. I know you’re just doing your job, but with this comment there are particular exacerbating factors that mean I feel not in the least bit bad about calling this out. Attempting to exploit this blog (which brings me no monetary gain) for free advertising, especially if you are going to use the comment section to do it (ie. attempting to advertise on this blog without asking me first) is rude, if nothing else. It won’t work. This applies particularly if you are advertising something which I strongly object to on principle, especially if I have expressed that strong objection in the post you’re commenting on. And finally, if you’re going to try and self-promote, don’t patronise me while doing it.
It was great to read your article. Notably that unemployed graduates are seeking not just work, but careers that they can enjoy and to put into practice what they enjoyed at university. This may seem like a luxury in today’s economy, but ideally it shouldn’t be.
Side note: here comes the patronising bit:
It’s fantastic that instead of settling for temp work that may have been irrelevant to your future goals, you sought out relevant work experience, for example by becoming editor of your student newspaper.
When speaking about the types of work experience that other graduates obtain, you mentioned internships.
Clearly this is the point at which the PR lady stopped reading, as she seems to miss the dig at Cameron for failing to regulate internships properly.
Perhaps it’s important to note that the quality of internships can vary starkly, both due to the responsibilities given to interns, and to the potential career opportunities that some companies do offer their interns.
As someone who works in an overseas internship provider, *** **** ******** ([web address]), we noted that approximately 66% of employers in a 2012 survey valued work experience and interview performance over an applicant’s academic background.
Furthermore, 72% of interns found compensation to be the least important factor when considering an internship. They valued career opportunities and work value as the number one most important factor.
Note that the writer doesn’t say ’72% of people considering an internship’. I would be very surprised if the stats weren’t significantly different if they’d interviewed those people. That’s because people who can afford to do free or low-paid internships do so because they can afford to. So of course compensation isn’t necessarily going to be the most important factor. It’s also a misleading question, becuse if someone were solely concerned with compensation rather than training, they might as well get a job in a pub. Training and experience are the primary purposes of internships; of course those are going to be the most important factors.
Considering the year-on-year increasing trend of companies to hire those with not only internship experience, but also international internship experience, *** **** ******** as the leading provider of internships in Shanghai, to students and graduates from across the globe has seen sharply increasing numbers of applicants and successful internship placements.
As an English company, we are the first company to offer a Code of Ethics which reflects our deeply ethical philosophy and it can be found on our site’s homepage. Due to our Western background, we can provide legal protection for our interns that simply cannot be found with other companies.
We are made up of an international team of professionals who are dedicated to offering top internships with leading companies in the industry of your choice that will boost your long-term career prospects.
As such, we are the lowest priced internship provider in Shanghai and we are the only company to offer free career consulting as standard to all our interns, post-internship!
Offering language training and accommodation in your cover price (at, I am sure, a massive profit) does not make me like your unpaid, minimum-of-one-month internships any more. You don’t get brownie points for charging less than other providers.
We are always happy to assist people both in and out of Shanghai, even if it’s just for some professional advice or a chat about opportunities and connections here!
Get in touch!
Thanks for the offer, but no.
*** **** ********