The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Paying Interns

Posted by The Futility Monster on February 27, 2010 @ 10:22

Wow, that's helpful. And it's not even funny. But then again, it wasn't meant to be.

There is a growing campaign at the moment that suggests that we must do something to improve the lot of interns across the country. But especially those working in Westminster. The campaign is called Intern Aware and it is presently stepping up its efforts to lobby for them to be paid at least the minimum wage.

Of course, paid internship schemes already exist.

They are called apprenticeships.

There is little difference between the schemes. Both are about getting young people into work. Both are about giving young people the skills they need to do the job they’re interested in. Both are about the first step on the career ladder.

Only one of them is more elitist than the other.

Internships, of course, can only be taken by those of independent means. That, naturally, excludes vast numbers of the population from taking them.

Declaration of interest: this author was an intern working for an MP for a year. But that was only possible via an entertaining degree course at a certain University. Oh, and lashings of government student loans. Huzzah!

In truth, the internship had the opposite effect. It made me want to get as far away from working there as possible. But still, it worked (and so did I), and I now have over £20k of debts as a glorious millstone of thanks.

Not wanting to get on my Marxist high horse here (wheeled out only on rare occasions), but there is something unpalatable about internships versus apprenticeships. Making interships inaccessible to the working class and huge swathes of the lower middle-class has an unsurprising effect of making sure that those professions accessed only via internships (namely public policy and media) are bastions of the middle and upper classes.

Meanwhile, it’s OK for the working classes, failed because of the political class’s disinterest in their educational surroundings, to stay exactly in their place, by being wedged into manual trades and other “lesser” forms of profession.

Needless to say I have some sympathy with what the Intern Aware scheme is trying to achieve. Politics and the media have got away with abusing willing volunteers (in more ways than just money) for decades.

It’s just gonna be difficult to convince the public at this time that what we need is more money to send more people into the political class.

Good luck to them!

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