Life and times of Amy Chen

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insomniactraveller asked: So I've just read your post about interning and I wholeheartedly agree with your rant. I go to university in Germany and I'm supposed to do an internship abroad this September. I'm currently applying for internships in London and it seems that all the internships that do pay, require that you already got your bachelors degree ... really depressing! But I'm still excited to go abroad even though I will have a small budget ^^

Thanks for your reply. Nice to have someone on my side. It’ll be a useful experience. As bad as it was, it was nevertheless good work experience for later life.  I hope you find a good internship :). 

Advantages of London are that a lot of things you can do don’t cost much, if anything (such as galleries and museums) and there are often events on. You should be able to have a fun time even on a budget. 

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A Rant on Interning

The issue of internships is one that fires me up a lot. I’ve recently finished a internship which lasted in 8 months in London as part of my university course and I’m currently doing another on in Manchester. The main issue is that I hate the idea of not being paid for doing work that another person who would be staff would get paid for.  

Internship No.1 - London based interiors soft furnishing company 

8 months full time/ 5 days a week, 10-6:30

After discussing with other classmates, those work hours were average and most had longer. I still feel as though having to work that long for that period of time entitles me to something, and not just the money to get there and back. There were times when I was the highest ranking member of the studio, as I was the veteran intern, and I had to supervise the other interns while both staff were away.

4 Interns, 1 Full time staff, 1 Part time designer, 1 Part time boss

You know your work place is a bit on the unconventional side when most of the people there are unpaid and you see the boss twice a week.

Nice man, Terrible boss

If you hadn’t met him and I told you about how he only employs interns to run his studio, that he only communicates in grammatically incorrect emails, that he’s rarely ever there to run his own company, you’d probably say he’s a terrible guy. Hard to discuss these issues when he walks in all cheerful and camp and when you try and give him any opinion, he just argues against it in that cheery manner. I had to help hire someone to take over my job as social media manager but he wanted to advertise for someone to start as a intern for a few months. I basically said that you should hire someone paid because he needs someone with the right skill level and a intern is’t going to cut it. I also wanted actual members of staff and not interns with barely enough skills to know what they’re doing working at the studio.

I wrote a review of the placement, painting it in a unflattering light but got asked to take it down by my boss once I left. I feel like I shouldn’t of out of principle but he kept giving me his sob story and was all “I’m so sorry you felt that way, why didn’t you tell me?” I couldn’t get a word in edgeways to tell him that because of the the boss-staff relationship, why would I ever tell the person I’m relying on to help me in my future career that he’s unprofessional and exploitative. From what I gathered, the other interns felt the same way, and were under the same obligation to stay, either for something for their CV or as part of their university course (like me).

What is truly the worse thing…

People just treat unpaid internships like their the norm, like it’s fine to just have students do the job of someone who would be paid because they agree to it. I only agreed to it because I had to. How else, in this competitive job market, do I get ahead? My tutor was less that helpful, just saying that that’s just how things are, the law is equally terrible as it states that if you do a internship as part of a course, you’re not entitles to pay whereas if I had done it after uni, I’d actually be able to argue against it. Intern Aware, a organisation that campaigns against unpaid internships, were like “Nope, no can do” because of that loophole in the law. Not even a hint of trying. 

To end, it’s generally a good idea to intern while at university as you will have help financially from student loans (I’m in the UK), you will he shafted by the law.  

Anyone else in the same boat?

Filed under intern interning design work experience rant experience student issues