Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Listen Up Graduates | What I really think of unpaid internships

After attending my first interview for an unpaid Internship last week, I started to have a think about the pros and cons of these sorts of roles. Are they really all what they are made up to be or does the thought of being unpaid after forking out thousands of pounds worth of tuition fees for the past three years simply put you off? In this blog I am going to share with you my thoughts on what I really think about unpaid Internships and answer that nagging question, is an Intern really for you? Take it from a recent graduate who has applied for numerous roles upon graduating, I know what it is like! My motto is to stay positive, however you have to be realistic in this day and age. Nobody said it would be easy...

So let’s begin with the pros.

The most obvious one being that you are able to gain valuable experience working in your chosen industry. Internships believe it or not are hard to get your hands on these days just like graduate jobs. It’s a dog eat dog world out there especially for graduates seeking work after university so getting an Intern unpaid or not is definitely something to be proud of. If anything it shows you are trustworthy and know your ‘stuff’ in regards to the industry or more specifically the company so to speak.

You get to really show the company what you are made of and why they should take you on permanently. You will be probably be completing some very mundane tasks from day to day including making the tea and sorting out the post and you may even feel like you have taken two steps back rather than forward. However, you will also be expected to get stuck in with some of the more important and creative stuff which is why you're really there!

They only usually last for 3 months. I don't think a company is legally allowed to keep you on any longer than this without paying you. So if it’s not for you, move on and let this motivate you to gain some further experience at a different company or possibly even a paid role.

It looks great on your C.V. Yes anything work related these days are a bonus for your C.V as I'm sure you're aware. Internships are especially great as it shows you are committed and value the experience more than anything.

You are able to network with the very best in the industry. Building contacts at this point in your working life is crucial. As the old saying goes, it is not what you know these days but who you know. Mix with the right people and you may see yourself flying to the top.

Surely there must be some cons?

Well obviously if you live outside of London and you are looking for a creative role like myself, travelling is the obvious one. I have been searching high and low for fashion and beauty PR companies around the Birmingham area and so far had no joy. London is where everything creative happens, in fact where most things happen...

Not only this but finding some money to cover your travel. Most Internships do offer some sort of expenses (they have to really) but it still doesn't cover the ridiculous prices you will be expected to pay for a train before 9am. Oh and then there is the tube…

You’re not guaranteed a job at the end of it. Yes this is true! Just because you are Interning doesn't necessarily mean there is a job waiting for you once it's over. However if you impress the company enough I'm sure they will have no choice but to keep you on. They would be stupid not to right?

They only usually last around three months. Also a con, you may feel that by the time you have settled in and actually starting to understand the company and the role, you are leaving. Therefore make the most of your time Interning by getting stuck in with anything, and everything and most importantly getting those contacts!

You often have to work long hours and at the end of it be expected to do the same all over again the very next day. Some individuals may feel unmotivated if the environment is very hands on and you’re not used to working (yes listen up you lazy students). Make sure you remind yourself why you are there; experience, experience ,experience!

You have to be quite flexible in terms of working hours and will without doubt be told what to do pretty much all of the time. You are only an Intern after all so your ideas may not always be valued. Therefore don’t be too disheartened if you aren't able to show off your full potential, especially to begin with.

Good luck with the job hunt! 


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