Interns should work for love, not money. Part 2.


Last year I posted on a topic that is quite close to home, internships. I covered this topic after reading the Cozette Mcreery interview with Elle online, she believed that interns should work for love, not money. This outraged me and pretty much everyone that read it by the looks of the comments the article received. Read my take on it and find the link to original Elle interview here.

The reason I’m covering this area again is because in the previous post I kind of commented it on it from an inexperienced angle, it’s never nice to read negative ‘truths’ about an industry you hoped to go into, hence leaving me  thinking that I was in some position to comment on it. But what’s even worse now, is that I can talk about it after 1 month of interning and being exploited myself.

I’m going to try and do this post without naming names. As much as I’d like to name and shame, I still, for some reason, have an ounce of respect for the person in question. Therefore do not want to bad mouth them. What I do want to focus on is my pure dismay of their behaviour; it just totally conforms with everything Cozette stated in Elle and to be frank, I’m disgusted, disappointed and totally in awe of how someone in such an industry as fashion journalism/PR can dismiss a hardworking and loyal person such as myself when they know from first hand experience just how to difficult it is to be given a chance.

Friends reading this will now how hyped I was about starting out, and Im pretty sure after all my moaning they’ll know how p*ssed off I am at the way I have been treated. Basically, I became a blogger for a small showbiz site that had a daily feature called ‘get the look for less’. I would trawl the net for 5 hours every Sunday looking for celebrities from recent events that have worn an outfit that can be replicated through high street finds. This started out real fun as it’s something I would do in my personal time anyway, the work itself was fine. It wasn’t until total lack of communication that I finally started asking questions, I was sending away five posts every Sunday for them to be distributed out over Monday to Friday but what I noticed was that they weren’t always being used.

Wanting to impress and do a good job, I emailed asking why this is. I didn’t receive an e-mail for over two weeks, I then went on to the ‘employers’ twitter to see that they had gone to Rome?! Talk about showing some respect for your interns and actually keeping them updated! This was bad enough, but before all this started I was set a piece of work which wasn’t part of the ‘get the look for less’ topic. The topic is irrelevant and I shouldn’t mention it as the client may read, but basically it involved A LOT of work and me spending my own money! I was set the mammoth task 32 hours before it was expected to be handed in, bearing in mind they are fully aware of uni commitments and we did agree on only 5 hours a week. So this was stressful and scary! At the time, it seemed huge as I was eager to impress but now, writing it out, I can see how used I was. (The only perk to doing the task in question was that I was paid £50, the rest of the internship was unpaid and I only got paid for this task because it was in fact her own personal work that she had just split with me. I imagine the client paid her, and she found an ounce of decency and realised I should recieve something. Careless and idiotic as it puts them at risk, but then this is a trait that runs throughout.)

With some of my work being used and some of it not, I had no idea where I stood. But I continued to create the posts as I didn’t know what else to do. It took a total of 3 weeks and 4 days of having my emails ignored for me to finally just give up. I’m so disappointed in the behaviour of the person in question, it has put me off going for any more internships, along with knocking my confidence as to this day I still don’t know why all my work wasn’t used. Being given no guidance, feedback or support appears to be a trait in those who offer interns. Unfortunately I’m not alone on this topic; I wish people would start changing the ways in which they treat and handle their interns. So much needs to change, but where do you turn too?

This is a brief account of what happened, its more a of a rant than anything else. It’s been bugging me for ages! if you have any stories of your experiences good or bad, do share. I’d like to see others who have been exploited but I’d also like to see some positive expierence to give me back some hope!

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4 thoughts on “Interns should work for love, not money. Part 2.

  1. I hate knowing yet people are being taken advantage of! It’s because they know people are desperate to get in to the industry and therefore believe they are willing to work for free and put up with crap in order to do so!

    Don’t give up if it’s your dream, just keep this in the back of your mind and don’t let anyone take you for a fool. xxx

  2. really interesting post (i found it through Jayne’s Kitschen’s blog).

    i always felt that all these beauty & fashion-related companies are so exploitative but to their own bloody detriment. I’m a bloody brilliant writer, im bloody clever, I have 4 years of work experience, I’m bi-lingual and yet they still won’t pay me and I cant go for a normal entry level job. being a final year student i can barely afford living right now let alone work and/or save up money for the 1-3 months of unpaid interning – i for one are not based in london and will have to pay rent and cant just magically make bills disappear.

    i say they are doing these unpaid internships to their own bloody detriment. ANYONE with a brain knows those unpaid will have less motivation, will have higher expectations and will be quicker and more disappointed. So they burn through people like they’re nothing and that’s why they have such a high turnover.

    BUT more importantly, forcing people into unpaid work means they can only really hire people who are either rich enough to afford living off their savings for 1-3 months OR people who are based in london already (or who have very understanding friends / family) – THEY LOSE OUT ON SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH TALENT BY JUST RECRUITING FOR UNPAID POSITIONS. their own bloody loss I say! idjits.

    you are so much better and so much more worth than some shit job supervised by a clearly inexperienced manager with no people managing skills, etc. keep at it and avoid PR at any costs. do communications instead – your work and work ethics will be much appreciated there.

    • Thanks for the feedback.

      I understand your frustration with the inability to find paid work, I have some experience, so driven and passionate and actually willing relocate (in the North) yet most companies would raher have me busting my but for free rather than give me the chance to expand, benefit them and grow with them. Despite the fact many of the companies Ive contacted are large enough to fund me!

      You raise a really good and valid point about location and the ability to work for free. I have encountered the same problem, the only way I could ever do any work for a company based down South would be if the work was based online. Its disheartening how many opportunities there are down south, too. All out of my reach due to financial restraints.

      It is nice to talk to someone who understands and feels they have a lot more to offer than what explotating organisations like to believe.

      I agree with your PR < Comms point, I hope to work in corporate comms, I imagine it is a lot friendlier and rewarding environment. The more I read about PR the less attractive it is.

      Good luck and all the best x

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