Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

All Work and No Pay

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

All Work and No Pay

Article excerpt

Byline: workie Luke Sproule

"NINE to five, what a way to make a living!" Back in 1981, when Dolly Parton topped the charts with her song about the drudgery of office life, working nine to five invariably did result in making a living. Not so today, because for thousands of Londoners like me nine to five is merely a way to find a way to make a living, preferably sometime in the not too distant future. Welcome to the life of the intern, an existence about to be portrayed on-screen by Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn in new film The Internship -- where they play two interns, Nick and Billy, searching for stellar new careers at Google.

London is undoubtedly the intern capital of Britain, with workies flocking here to gain experience in our financial, tech, legal, fashion, PR and media industries. Although most places are unpaid, and the cost of living here high, competition for them is fierce. In the most extreme cases interns even pay to get a place, with a number of firms including Faberge and Coutts auctioning off positions.

I was prepared, based on what I had heard from friends, for a lot of teamaking and this side of interning is certainly accurate. One month in I seem to have become competent at that but I have discovered other tasks -- and for this I am grateful.

Another friend of mine was less lucky during his time interning at a think-tank, being ignored by his boss for the entire two-month placement.

It's worthwhile remembering, however, that just because an intern is given plenty to do, it doesn't mean they're actually doing anything relevant. One friend I spoke to spent part of her time at a governmentfunded organisation baking 400 cupcakes. Another former intern trying to become a writer told me of her time spent at a magazine where the picture desk decided she was perfect to pose for some stock photos, including one in which she was portrayed an alcoholic. …

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