I was linked a wonderfully terrible post in my weekly email from “Bright Network”, a job site apparently designed around the concept of “so, Russell Group elitism, huh? Employers love that shit!” (I signed up; they wanted to know what university I went to. Didn’t want any grades, didn’t even want my degree classification, just “Did you go to the right uni? Are you our sort of people?“)
The linked blog post, as cringingly equivocal as it is blase and disingenuous, asks “Internships – are they worth it?”
My response, in case it disappears – that may happen, you know – was this:
Of course they’re worth it if you can afford them. Thanks to an economic situation which lets companies think they can justify not paying people for working, and a job market so staggeringly awful that graduates will take any chance they can get, they are increasingly the only way of getting experience. Unfortunately, given that same ghastly job market, most people can’t afford living expenses and travel while working an often full-time job they aren’t getting paid for.
It seems totally fair to tar all unpaid internships with the same exploitative brush: they are exploitative. They exploit a generation of young people utterly desperate for jobs, and a generation of parents who can afford to support their offspring. Worse than exploitation, they exclude the less well off from even getting a toe in the door. Of course the lucky people whose parents give them enough pocket money to make such non-opportunities practicable can see the bright side! To them, it doesn’t matter.
Don’t apologise for internships or dress them up as anything other than a cynical, immoral excuse to cut costs by keeping rich kids amused and screwing over the poor and desperate. We already have a word for someone who works without being paid. It’s “slave.”
For the record, I don’t consider this site anything other than a despicable, nakedly elitist circlejerk of entrenched privilege; I’m there because, as noted, I’m fucking desperate for a job (though I’m happy to publicly sneer at this site because, as well as being disgusting, it’s not actually much use.) Also for the record, I think I nicked that zinger of a last line from Mr Reeve, though I can’t seem to find it in our email exchanges.
Oops, I’ve stayed up too late. Need to get up early to pack a lunch for my unpaid legal work experience…