Internships and Unemployment (I’m getting on the soapbox)

I apologise in advance. This will not be a music post today, more of a ramble.
I’m sure if you use Twitter, you’ve seen the tweets from HMV’s social media team today. I certainly saw them. (For those if you who didn’t, google #hmvxfactorfiring).
I sympathised immediately. I’m a 24 year old. I’m job hunting. I’ve spent the past two years since finishing University in a mixture of short lived, low paid positions and interning , another word for free labour.
As I read the tweets, acknowledging the fact that this social media team were potentially throwing away any future career options, just for the purpose of allowing the world to see just how cruel it really is, something hit me.
The twitter account in question was created by a lowly, unpaid intern. The social media team were, I’m stereotyping, but probably around my age. Social media attracts the young, it’s one of the few things where we have more experience.
I went for a job interview today. The company in question (I won’t name them) were running late. They didn’t give me a real reason, or give me an estimate of how long they might be. I waited an hour, with two other girls in the same position and then walked out.
At what point did my time become valueless to them? That I, as a young person, should be expected to wait as long as they see fit just for the privilege of an interview? That I should just be grateful that someone might consider paying me for the time I spend working as hard as I possibly can for them?
When did this world become an exploitation of the young by the well-established? There’s a recession they say. There are no jobs. You must prove yourself before anyone will take you on.
My parents graduated from university and were taken on based on their academic merits. It’s maybe not the best way, not everyone who can pass exams will be good at a vaguely relatable job.
It’s fair to expect someone to gain experience before you take them on permanently. These aren’t good times to take risks.
The part I disagree with is the places that offer unpaid work, promising that ‘there may be a position available at the end’. There is no position. There is never a position. Not unless someone leaves, and even then, you’re competing with people outside the company with more experience.
The last paid job I was hired for, I found out later the intern had applied for too. She knew the company, and the things they’d taught her. I knew things the company didn’t. No prizes for guessing why I was picked over her.
Is it right, what happens now? I’ve been an unpaid worker, and I’ve had unpaid workers. I’ve tried to teach as much as I can, but what do you say to someone when you see that same naively in their eyes? If I work hard enough, if I’m good enough, I’ll get a job.
It’s not about that. It’s never about that. Get the experience, if you can afford it. But learn to flog that to other people, because you’ll be lucky if you get anything there. Unpaid positions don’t become paid when there’s a hundred more people willing to work for free.
I just hope these employers remember that someday it’ll be their children, or nieces or nephews, or neighbours.. who get thrust into the big, wide world with this dream that gets sold to them of a job that they love. Because how long can you lie to these people before they just stop trying?
Off the soapbox now.
RC xx

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