• Opinion-lead

    Opinion: Why paid internships are the best way forward for all concerned

Opinion

Opinion: Why paid internships are the best way forward for all concerned

Posted by Maisie Skidmore,

This week the debate over interns has raised its head again with two very different contributions. Here our own (paid!) intern Maisie Skidmore looks at the new row and explains why Intern magazine offers some hope. As ever you can add your thoughts using the thread below…

The arrival of Intern magazine sparked an interesting debate in the It’s Nice That studio this week, over an issue which has, over the last few years, become a melting pot of frustration, resentment and arrogance. Just today D&AD chairman Dick Powell provoked a huge backlash after making a speech which reportedly declared that all graduates should work for free, proclaiming: “Offer anything, do anything. Work for nothing, make tea, carry bags, and learn, learn, learn.” (He has since released a statement to clarify his comments.)

The overall gist of the debate is that interns in the creative industries often work long days for months at a time with no guarantee of improved job prospects at the end.

Last year Vice published an article complaining interns were “rising up off their swivel chairs, shaking their imaginary shackles and demanding what is not rightfully theirs”. The article denounced their efforts to demand more from their work experience, and was largely slammed. Having said that (and you’re probably not going to like me for saying this) beneath the deliberate provocation and the determination to cause controversy, some of the points in this piece do, in fact, carry some weight. 

“Offer anything, do anything. Work for nothing, make tea, carry bags, and learn, learn, learn.”

D&AD Chairman Dick Powell quoted on Dezeen

For one, internships are intended to give young, talented and ambitious people the experience required to help them develop their skills to, eventually, find paid work. They aren’t, and don’t pretend to be, jobs. In fact, many companies in media barely have enough money to pay actual staff for their work, let alone untrained ones. What an internship will ideally do, is cultivate a wide range of skills.

What is more problematic is that we are not talking about a level playing field. Interns whose parents are able to support them financially gain an unfair advantage over those who work hard to maintain their financial independence. This is where Dick Powell’s overarching statements fall short, and where employers can help by paying their interns.

Intern magazine, on the other hand, is taking this difficult topic and using it to create something undeniably positive. Alec Dudson explains that the publication’s intentions are “to be a tactile showcase for the brightest intern and unpaid talent” and "to initiate an important debate about the current culture of internships and its potential implications for the creative industries.”

It’s easy to choose which team we’d rather side with. By solidifying issues which have otherwise been whirring noisily around the internet for some time into a tangible, collective and undoubtedly very beautiful publication Intern looks to salvage what it can from the whole debacle, and to open up the debate to further ideas. 

comments powered by Disqus
Ms-300

Posted by Maisie Skidmore

Assistant Editor Maisie joined It’s Nice That fresh out of university in the summer of 2013 and has stayed with us ever since. She has a particular interest in art, fashion and photography and is a regular on our Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Opinion View Archive

  1. List

    Portuguese graphic designer and illustrator Braulio Amado – who we interviewed here and who currently works for Bloomberg Businessweek – recently got in touch about the huge expense of entering (and winning) design awards. Here he is on the confusing reality of it costing more than $400 to receive awards from the Type Directors Club.

  2. V2-obama-selfie-itsnicethat-list

    Did you know that there are more images published every day now than there were in the whole of the 19th Century? Nicholas Mirzoeff has written a brilliant book about this fact, entitled How to See the World. Here’s Nicholas on the myriad ways in which this mass of visual information impacts our perception and creativity, and the “exciting, inspiring and anarchic” effect it might have.

  3. Tracey-emin_-sex-1-25-11-07-sydney-courtesy-tracey-emin-list

    Earlier this week I came across cover artwork Tracey Emin has created for the new Penguin editions of Henry Miller’s twin novels Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. Knowing full well Tracey Emin is a notoriously polarising force I was still taken aback by some of the vitriol this inspired. By all means opposing opinion and varied taste is what makes life more interesting, but sometimes I think people dismiss her work too quickly.

    People frequently decry her lack of technical skill. “She can’t draw,” they say. I think this tends to miss the point as much as the worn out reproach, “my three year-old could do that.” In the context of contemporary art, perhaps far more important than being an accomplished draughtsman is the ability to produce gesture and affect. Emin can do this. I also happen to respond well to her loose, evocative hand and think her gouache nudes are visually very strong. I remember reading a typically scathing review from Brian Sewell in the Evening Standard a couple of years ago where he described one of her drawings as a “squalid smudge.”

    Elsewhere I’ve read that based on her ability she is undeserving of her success, that there are more talented artists who will never reach her dizzying heights, that her emphasis on sex is gratuitous and that she shows contempt for anything that is pleasing to the eye. I’m not going to pick apart every criticism, but because Emin is successful and someone else is not fails to invalidate her work (I’d also add that the two are not contingent on one another), to channel her sexuality into her work is her prerogative as a woman in the 21st Century, and as for the question of beauty, by now art has shown it can be ugly and still worthy.

  4. Sm_lcc_invite_itsnicethat-list

    The days of beers in the park and ice lollies at lunchtime are nearly upon us, and with that comes degree shows, and lots of them. But who should be charged with designing the identity for a university degree show – should it be the students, or an external agency? Indeed, do degree shows need identities at all? We want to hear from you; you can add your thoughts to the comments section below.

  5. Marcel-ingloriousfruits-itsnicethat-list

    After the Design Museum names its six category winners for the 2015 Designs of the Year, Rob Alderson argues that the victor in the graphics section is a very worthy winner. You can add your thoughts using the comment thread below.

  6. List

    Ben Tallon’s new book explores the difficult transition to going freelance which many in the creative world make, and by which many more are tempted. To mark the publication of Champagne and Wax Crayons Ben has written a piece about how he found taking that giant leap. You can add your thoughts below…

  7. Grayson-perrys-dream-hous-007-list

    A few years ago, you wouldn’t have expected Channel Four to show a documentary about a cross-dressing artist making a house in Essex on a Sunday evening. But that’s the magic of Grayson Perry: there’s no such thing as low and high culture, no such thing as people not being “into” art, no such thing as stereotypes.

  8. List_sarah_lucas_i_scream_daddio_its_nice_that_

    One of my favourite exhibitions of the last few years was Sarah Lucas’ Whitechapel show, described by The Guardian as “Breasts, bums, blokes and their bits.” Naturally, I was thrilled when Sarah was announced as the artist creating the British Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale. Like the work of Jeremy Deller, the artist chosen in 2013, Sarah’s art can be messy and funny and fearless. It’s hard to make sense of, and big issues are frequently masked with a wry humour. Britain could be said to be the same; for all our perceived stuffiness, as a nation there’s a gloriously dishevelled side – a bold sense of “why the fuck not,” experimentation and our famed eccentricity which has made such a small place such a big deal when it comes to creativity.

  9. Oliviacharlesworth-itsnicethat-1

    At a time when debates surrounding art and design education and the way they prepare students for the creative industries are intensifying, Kingston University tutor Zelda Malan explains why it’s still so important that creative courses continue to teach ideas. You can add your thoughts using the comments thread below…

  10. Marianbantjes-designawards-itsnicethat-list

    It’s design award season (like the film world equivalent but fewer red carpets and more pictures of people staring at posters) and as ever the winners will be much discussed across the creative industries. But genuinely useful advice for those who enter has been thin on the ground, until now. Having relaunched her website, the brilliant Marian Bantjes has also started a new blog (huzzah!) and recently wrote a series of tips for those designers putting their work up for awards, based on her extensive experience as a judge. You can add comments below, or just soak up the wisdom…

  11. Newswall-itsnicethat-list

    Yesterday saw the launch of a brand new form of news presentation by Channel 4 in 4NewsWall – a Tumblr-hosted website dedicated to the day’s top news stories, listed chronologically, with each presented by a GIF. Thought up by 4Creative’s Jack Croft and Stacey Bird and developed by the creative team, it’s flashy, image-led and uncluttered – with each GIF offering a click-through button to a more detailed report – and looks set to be an interesting and exciting progression for news journalism.

  12. Graphicdesign_-opinion-itsnicethat-list

    A couple of months ago there was a lot of interest in this survey in which clients described the four worst types of creative agencies as they saw it. Now we have a chance to hear from the practitioners themselves, by way of Graphicdesign&’s in-depth industry study. Lucienne Roberts and Rebecca Wright have partnered with social scientist Nikandre Kopcke to create a questionnaire which explores “practice, perceptions and prejudices alongside the usual questions about age, education, work and pay.”

  13. List

    It’s fast approaching the time of all-nighters (not the fun ones), tears, last-minute panics and all the other things that come with the end of learning and the impending beginning of the terrifying thing they call real life. But like the mum that tells you you’re always the best and most talented and most beautiful, or the best friend that bursts into your house and pops the kettle on/pours the gin, we’re here to remind you of some of the advice that might be able to help you.