In recent election news, Labour have come out to say that if they get into power they would ban unpaid internships over 4 weeks:
Hallelujah I say!!
I completed my B.A. in the History of Art and Architecture, and graduated with dreams of working in the arts sector within a gallery or museum. Knowing how competitive the arts industry is, I explored internships as an avenue to gain initial experience and to make key contacts
The arts sector is often a who-you-know industry, rather than a meritocracy. When exploring my options from an art history degree, I thought about working for auction houses only to be told by an art buyer that unless I knew someone in the industry I had no shot.
So, I completed two internships to make up for my lack of contacts.
I do not want to name the two organisations but the two internships were for prestigious galleries in Dublin and London, in two different departments. One was full time, 9-5, Monday to Friday, while the London position was three days a week, 9-5.
Both were entirely unpaid.
No travel expenses, no food allowance, nothing!
In Dublin, I accrued costs for weekly train tickets and lunch, while in London I could walk to work, but when you factor in central London food prices, neither internship was actually unpaid.
And I was lucky to be in a position to be able to pay, which is inherently unfair to those who don't have that luxury but dream of working in the arts sector.
Internships will never go away, and companies/institutions will continue to exploit eager students trying to stand out from the crowd, and gain experience in an industry when you don't have any ready-made contacts.
However, they must pay for these interns, if not minimum wage than the least they can do is cover travel, food, and other expenses! Furthermore, they have a duty to ensure that interns gain something valuable from the experience, through working on a project, sitting in on meetings, etc.
Being the coffee-runner is exploitative and unfair!