Sincerely, a student & business owner.

Last week, over a chilled pint of Peroni at The Ship. TimeOut’s first pub in Soho that wasn’t a gay bar. Myself and Guy Larsen, a London-based Artist and Filmmaker, discussed among others, the topic of Unpaid Internships.

Now this topic angers me naturally. Being a student, experience is everything, as is who you know. How much does that 2:1 on your degree certificate actually mean in the real world? Sweet FA from my experience.

I’ve had it pretty good. Whilst still a student, I’ve worked with clients such as Social Media Week, Online Influence, The House of Lords, Eventbrite, D&AD and now Ogilvy & Mather.

The topic angered me so much in fact, that I setup my own small digital agency, DOUP (more to come), to help my friends get freelance work that I didn’t want or couldn’t take.

Now here’s my problem:

  • Employers want ‘hard-working individuals’. Don’t get me wrong, money isn’t everything. But how do they expect hard-working individuals when they’re being fueled solely on Passion and motivation? Being skint gets you down. And being down doesn’t sound like a hard-working individual to me.
  • Work is Work, Money is Money. The word ‘Work’ is defined as an “activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a result.”and the word ‘money’ is defined as “the assets, property, and resources owned by someone or something” — Now surely if you are engaging in an activity involving mental or physical effort, aka work, you deserve to own assets or resources, better known as Money.
  • An easy ride. This is a common one. Employees of the company taking on Interns to impress the boss that they can manage, conduct training all whilst coming up with amazing, new, innovative ideas to disrupt the industry. Right? Wrong. This is wrong. Using an Intern to simply show off, or steal their ideas completely defeats the purpose of internships. If you aren’t being fully credited, What’s the point?
  • Does your landlord accept experience instead of cash? Probably not. Point is, experience doesn’t pay the bills, and in the society we live, bills are a pretty big deal whether we like them or not.

Back to Guy, you know, the Artist & Filmmaker from the pub.

His latest book, in a series around serious topics made into children’s book, titled “The Eternal Intern” is about, you guessed it, Internships & their lack of financial gain so to put it.

How was it? You can buy it here:

Now here’s what should be done…

Students need to stand their ground and stop queuing up for free Internships. It degrades their abilities and is a vicious circle.

And employers need to respect themselves and the interns. Not to use it as some free or cheap work, but to provide valuable and meaningful experiences to talent entering the industry. And who knows, maybe one day that Intern you didn’t take for granted might be the one paying your bills. You know, the ones that involve cash. Not experience.

Sincerely, a student and business owner.

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