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Sam  Sparrow  –  Jellyfielders  Podcast  Episode  2,  Internships   February  16,  2011  

 

Jellyfielders  Podcast  Episode  2  –  Click  to  Subscribe   Internships  and  “Who  Gets  The  Best  Jobs”  (31.03mins  in)     Hi,   I’m   Sam   Sparrow,   and   I’m   going   to   be   your   resident   expert   on   all   things   volunteering,   charity,   what’s   going   on   in   the   world   around   us   and   how   to   do   a   little   bit   of   good!   You   can   find   me   tweeting   prolifically   @SamRSparrow   and   having   a   longer   chat   on   my   blog,   cakeandlife.wordpress.com.  I’m  very  excited  to  be  making  my  debut  on   the   Jellyfielders   Podcast   this   week,   so  get   in   touch   if   you   want   to   do   any   mutual  ranting!       Following  on  from  the  fantastic  “hit  the  nail  on  the  head”  contributions   from  Lea  Rice  on  the  graduate  job  market,  I’m  going  to  get  myself  in  a   tizz   about   the   dirty,   exploitative   world   of   internships,   and   how   the   average  job  seeker  is  getting  priced  out  of  the  market  when  it  comes  to   being  an  intern.     I’m  going  to  make  a  confession  right  here  –  I  have  been  incredibly  lucky   in   my   working   life,   and   I   can   count   on   one   hand   the   number   of   weeks   work   experience   and   internships   I   have   had   to   complete   –   yep   that   is   one,  two,  three.  For  my  generation,  that  is  by  no  means  the  norm,  and  it   definitely  wasn’t  because  I  am  super  posh  or  super  rich  (or  even  super   educated).   There   was   no   grammar   school   or   Oxbridge   for   me.     I   put   it   down   to   a   sprinkling   of   being   a   bit   savvy,   knowing   what   I   wanted,   working  hard  and  then  having  a  huge  dose  of  being  incredibly  lucky.    

@SamRSparrow  

cakeandlife.wordpress.com  

©  Sam  Sparrow  


Sam  Sparrow  –  Jellyfielders  Podcast  Episode  2,  Internships   February  16,  2011  

 

A   little   while   ago,   I   was   getting   my   knickers   in   a   twist   about   a   programme  on  BBC2  called  “Who  Gets  The  Best  Jobs”.    It  took  the  fact   that  Britain  is  actually  a  less  equal  society  than  at  any  time  since  World   War   One   (crazy)   and   used   that   theme   to   investigate   access   to   the   professions   and   internships.     Unsurprisingly   the   programme   found   that   the  best  jobs  are  being  snapped  up  by  an  increasingly  small  gene  pool  of   privileged,  well-­‐connected  families.   You  won’t  be  shocked  to  hear  of  the  fashion  PR  company  Modus  taking   on  20  interns,  paying  them   nothing  and  making  them  do  the  same  work   of   a   fully   paid   position.     When   asked,   their   Director   couldn’t   make   the   link   between   the   huge   amount   of   free   labour   they   were   getting   out   of   their   interns   and   his   profit   margins.     Either   he   was   being   a   little   mischievous   or   else   he   needs   to   go   back   to   basic   maths   class.  This   happens  time  and  again,  particularly  in  the  creative  industries  (which  are   seen   as   sexy   and   desirable   employers).   In   fact,   the   BBC2   programme   showcased   young   people   doing   over   a   years   worth   of   internships,   and   then   wondering   why   it   wasn’t   leading   to   paid   work.   I   could   have   probably  stretched  to  three  months  unpaid,  but  a  whole  year?    No  way.   Even  more  concerning  was  the  employer  who  said  –  “if  they  have  been   doing   this   work   for   free   for   so   long,   why   would   we   pay   them   to   do   it   now?”     I   think   what   makes   me   really   sad   is   that   those   young   people   who   do   not   come   from   affluent   backgrounds   cannot   possibly   support   themselves   through   months   upon   months   of   free   work.     It   just   means   that   the   @SamRSparrow  

cakeandlife.wordpress.com  

©  Sam  Sparrow  


Sam  Sparrow  –  Jellyfielders  Podcast  Episode  2,  Internships   February  16,  2011  

 

exciting,   creative   professions   where   internships   are   the   norm   are   practically   inaccessible   to   those   from   socially   and   economically   disadvantaged  communities.     There  is  a  bit  of  light  at  the  end  of  the  tunnel  though.    Intern  Aware  are   running   a   great   online   campaign   focusing   on   fair   access   to   the   intern   system.  Their  campaign  concentrates  on  internships  getting  paid  at  least   the  minimum  wage,  which  I  think  would  work.    Yes,  there  might  end  up   being   less   internships   available,   but   it   would   mean   that   recruiters   couldn’t   distinguish   between   student   and   non-­‐student   or   between   differing  socio-­‐economic  backgrounds  (i.e.  how  much  dosh  you’ve  got),   thus  widening  the  pool  of  those  who  can  now  go  for  internships.     If   you   want   to   find   out   more   about   their   campaign,   go   to   internaware.org.     There   has   been   a   real   swell   of   chatter   about   this   issue   in   the   blogosphere  and  on  twitter,  and  I  don’t  think  it  is  going  to  go  away  any   time   soon.     With   lobbying   of   our   biggest   recruiters   and   our   politicians   going  on,  I  believe  it  is  only  a  matter  of  time  before  employers  and  the   government  start  walking  the  talk  on  this  –  after  all,  didn’t  Nick  Clegg  say   in  the  pre  election  debates  that  he  wanted  us  to  live  in  a  “meritocracy”.     I  guess  he  said  a  lot  of  things,  but  this  at  least  I  hope  is  true.     How   would   I   fix   it?   Well,   for   me,   as   well   as   being   paid,   an   internship   should   provide   the   intern   with   a   structured   experience,   not   just   tea-­‐ making   and   photocopying.   We’ve   all   been   there,   but   the   work   @SamRSparrow  

cakeandlife.wordpress.com  

©  Sam  Sparrow  


Sam  Sparrow  –  Jellyfielders  Podcast  Episode  2,  Internships   February  16,  2011  

 

experiences   that   have   been   really   valuable   have   been   the   ones   that   show  you  the  ropes  of  your  chosen  profession  –  and  give  you  key  skills   and  knowledge  that  you  can  take  into  your  next  role  and  talk  about  at   interview,  and  hopefully  nab  that  all  important  job.     There   is   a   lesson   here,   and   I   hate   to   be   the   preacher,   but   it   is   this:   if   you   don’t  place  a  value  on  yourself  and  your  time,  why  should  anyone  else?   Get   savvy,   get   loud   and   get   paid   -­‐   it’s   time   to   start   standing   up   and   shouting  from  the  rooftops  “we  are  SO  worth  it!!”     Well  I’ve  been  Sam  Sparrow,  thanks  for  listening  and  see  you  next  time   for  more  chatter  on  all  things  good  and  proper.    

@SamRSparrow  

cakeandlife.wordpress.com  

©  Sam  Sparrow  


Jellyfielders Podcast by Sam Sparrow - Internships