Politics, Philosophy, Polemics

Archive for the ‘Interns’ Category

Masochists Wanted

In Interns on December 13, 2012 at 3:44 PM

This is a cross post. It was originally published on Harry’s Place on December 13th 2012, 1:15 pm

It would appear that this advertisement for unpaid interns is genuine. Dalkey Archive Press is a publishing house looking for new staff. It makes clear in the advertisement that the “The pool of candidates for positions will be primarily derived from unpaid interns.” While they might take on one or two people in a short term paid position, applicants  should “ assume that [they] will be one of the unpaid interns.”

As well as looking for people who “are very well read in literature,” “highly motivated,” “ambitious,” etc., etc., there is simply no point applying if applicants have “family obligations, writing, involvement with other organizations, degrees to be finished, holidays to be taken, weddings to attend in Rio, etc.” I wonder if you might be allowed time off for a funeral of a grandparent?

Applicants are warned that they will be dismissed for any of the following reasons:

coming in late or leaving early without prior permission; being unavailable at night or on the weekends; failing to meet any goals; giving unsolicited advice about how to run things; taking personal phone calls during work hours; gossiping; misusing company property, including surfing the internet while at work; submission of poorly written materials; creating an atmosphere of complaint or argument; failing to respond to emails in a timely way; not showing an interest in other aspects of publishing beyond editorial; making repeated mistakes; violating company policies.

I can imagine it now – reason for dismissal: “answering a phone call at 7.00pm on a Sunday evening from  your mother who wanted to know what time you were likely to be home for dinner.” What if you want a day off for Christmas? Surely there can be no better response than “Bah, humbug!”

Dismissal can be for failure to meet any goals. One might wonder what these goals might include. In the case of one of the positions available – Personal Assistant to the Publisher – candidates must be able to “know what the Publisher needs or wants before he does.” Perhaps this position is better suited to clairvoyants.

And just in case you were thinking of applying and interested in knowing anything about how your application is proceeding, you are pre-warned:

We will not be able to acknowledge receipt of applications or provide feedback about your application. We will contact only those people whom we wish to ask further questions of or that we intend to interview. Do not contact us about your application.

Hat Tip: Vagenda Magazine via Max Dunbar


Advertising for unpaid interns

In Interns on December 5, 2012 at 3:21 PM

This is a cross post. It was originally posted on December 5, 2012, 3:12 pm at Harry’s Place.

Longer term readers of my blog posts here will be aware that I have argued against the use of unpaid interns. A key reason for my annoyance is that many could be illegal as they would be in breach of the minimum wage legislation. In some industries the practice of use of unpaid interns is not prevalent, but in other industries it seems common practice. It is particularly notorious in areas such as fashion journalism. As implied by an article in this week’s Observer, such practices impede social mobility.

I am therefore delighted to read Shiv Malik’s article in the Guardian that informs us that Hazel Blears has cross-party support for a bill being introduced to parliament to make advertising unpaid internships in breach of the legislation illegal. I hope her bill is passed.

A counter argument might be that banning such advertisements might lead to further difficulties for social mobility as the jobs will be obtained by word of mouth recommendations. Who you know as opposed to what you know will become increasingly important.  However, I do not give that much weight to that argument. What will the young person write on their curriculum vitae who takes such a role if legislation is tightened and enforced? “I worked for XYZ Fashion Magazine illegally so I should be grateful if you do not write to them asking for a reference about the quality of my work, because any response from them might be used as evidence against them in a court of law that they have acted illegally.” It is a nonsense.

The truth is that young people in 2012 are being asked to work for no pay. They are doing similar work, technologically adjusted, to young people in 1992. The difference was that in 1992 the jobs were referred to as graduate trainee jobs, summer jobs, office juniors or entry level jobs, and paid, whereas in 2012 they are often referred to as internships and are unpaid. This development is not a positive one.