Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Putting A Guard Up: Big Name, Little Reward

For a while now I have been surrendering myself to the lowly realms of unpaid internships. Now, as much as people argue the case for abolishing what is essentially free labour, the concept of the free fashion (or near enough any creative or media related) skivvy isn't going anywhere. Unfair? Perhaps. But the idea and "reasoning" for many outlets and companies, particularly the larger and more competitive, behind the concept of the unpaid internship is that this is a way for you to demonstrate your passion and undying enthusiasm for the product, brand or trade so to speak. So here I am, once again offering myself up the media Gods for mundane jobs and non existent wages all in the name of proving my worth.

Well... in theory.

In sum, I have been hankering after a newspaper to add to my CV list of media conquests having already now experienced working life in glossy, PR and online. Therefore, I'm pretty pleased to be writing this post from The Guardian HQ. A paper founded in 1821 and known for its impressive international multimedia presence, surely this is the place to be tested; to be put through my paces so I can acquire the skills and experience necessary to succeed within this hilariously cut-throat industry and impress my future employers? I don't hold much hope other than on paper. The name in itself may well impress but as to whether I'm learning anything that goes beyond my own common sense is somewhat doubtful. However, that is not to say I'm not enjoying myself and by environment alone I can cement my ambitions on this being the career for me.

Yesterday, my first day, involved two tasks. My first task involved the weekend papers, a keen eye and a pair of scissors. Nothing life changing but a required task I had no objection in undertaking. For the afternoon's festivities, I locked myself in a messy cupboard, whacked on a combination of Bruce Springsteen's greatest hits and mundane pop and got on with bagging and addressing marvelously expensive things. And then putting them on my head. Day over. Today? Even less productive thus far with the agenda including 15 minutes sorting post and 10 minutes flicking through and filing some look books. Then "just go on the computer for a bit" which, in layman's terms, equates to 2 and half hours. This is not out of the ordinary for many but for me, I've never experienced such a laid back attitude especially in comparison to my last placement at Fashion156 where, in those long and intense hours, I was trained up to a high level in all things essential. In hindsight, I very much did a job without getting any wages. A little mean perhaps but then again, I took something away from it and left in the knowledge that I was "a perfect representative for the company". My role was fashion assistant and writer, not intern, and to this day I still receive enquiries, lookbooks and CVs from people I previously connected with. As hellish as that internship was at (most) times, it was a "no pain, no gain" situation. Here, there is definitely no pain but my prospects of gain seem minimal.

However, after I've eaten my salmon ands couscous (I can at least act the part) I'm going to force this place into giving me work if only to save myself the £178 worth of clothing sitting in my online basket. Research, perhaps? A few more returns, even? G'wan - this labour is free afterall.

Hello Victoria Beckham sunglassess...
My fashion cupboard hideway.

Until I'm made to do something...
C. x


  1. It mentioned 'the other internship' so I had to comment... I had a really similar experience at the Express, and while it was mind numbing, the real reason I think that places like that and the Guardian can leave an intern without much to do is because their business and day to day runningn of the place doesn't solely rely on the work of interns, and quite right too. Other publications do however, and without wanting to mention names (we know who I'm talking about) I know that I got sick of being lectured about how much of an 'opportunity' this was for me when I was fully aware that nobody was being paid, or was ever going to be.

    Having said that I can imagine it's frustrating when you're used to being on the front line like the other place.

    At least there's no lugging suitcases all over London, that must be bliss!

  2. Ugh, yes i totally agree! I appreciate that everyone has their own set tasks to do here so it's good that interns aren't taken advantage of in that way.

    As for after lunch tasks: I have requested things to do which got a "Yeah totally, I'll just email the courier and we'll sort some returns" (thank god for couriers.)

    However, I've now been reading this week's Grazia for 20 minutes. I'm such a team player.

  3. I'm off to the Observer for 2 weeks in March, which should be interesting. A friend of mine was there recently and said she was given plenty to do, so perhaps its a question of timing - sometimes there's lots and sometimes not.

    Are they nice there? The people at the express were some of the dullest I've ever met, but I like to imagine those at the guardian/observer might be more on my wavelength. Really hope nobody from the express is reading this.

  4. They're lovely actually so wouldn't worry about that.

    Timing is key I think. The assistant mentioned a potential shoot so hopefully that'll mean call ins and prep soon. But I'm thinking of going straight to fashion ed when I come in tomorrow and offer my services in any way. Surely she must be busy? There must be something to help her out with...

    Are you helping out anyone for fashion week by the way?