• 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. She also oversees our London listings guide This At There.

Most Recent: Opinion View Archive

  1. Robertbye-opinion-list

    The intern debate is still one of the most talked-about issues whenever we meet young designers. This week Robert Bye wrote an interesting article about why, after three months interning in a design consultancy, he believes doing crappy jobs did sometimes make sense.

  2. List

    Assistant editor Maisie Skidmore chimes in on the debate about the presence of full-frontal male nudity in Rick Owens’ AW15 collection which showed in Paris a few days ago. Do you think penises on the catwalk are a step too far? Leave your comments below!

  3. List

    Following this week’s news that plain cigarette packaging could be introduced in England as soon as next year, Studio Minerva co-founder and creative strategy lead Silas Amos tells us about the designs that made his relationship with smoking “always equally one with the branding.”

  4. Artsemergency-list

    Earlier this week James Blunt’s open letter to shadow culture secretary Chris Bryant went viral, in which the musician hit back at the MP’s assertion that the arts was dominated by those from privileged backgrounds. But Jonathan Wakeham of Arts Emergency and The London Comedy Film Festival believes James’ (admittedly amusing) letter missed the point. As ever you can add your thoughts using the comments thread below.

  5. List

    Branding agency Morillas’ chief executive officer Marc Morillas considers the way advertising agencies commandeer symbols of protest for use in advertising campaigns and commercial branding. What do you think about the reappropriation of these symbols? As ever, you can add your comments in the discussion thread below.

  6. List

    It is now one week since the terrorist attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in which 12 people were killed, including some of France’s best-known and best-loved cartoonists. We have already covered the immediate responses of the illustration community but in the past seven days so much has been said and written about satire, cartoons, free speech and the subversive magazine that it’s been tricky to try and make sense of it all.

  7. Unnamed-2

    Back to school, back to work – it’s not surprising everyone’s got anxious, upside down smiles at this time of the year. Most fresh starts are usually followed by fresh resolutions – and we’re no stranger to looking ahead and trying to predict what’s going to happen in our own lives, as well as that of the creative world. With that in mind, we’ve put our slightly mushy heads together and concocted a list of ten animators, designers, illustrators, magazines and artists who are about to spring from the perfectly acceptable “small time” to the much-lauded “big time.” Ready? Here they are in no particular order…

  8. List

    Last week features editor Liv Siddall put out a call to arms to the illustration community, inviting practitioners young and old to push their discipline further and keep their work exciting and fresh. She cited in particular the regurgitation of the same established names at illustration fairs and events as a cynical way to flog tickets and boost sales instead of creating a platform for new, innovative work.

  9. Main

    This week, Features Editor Liv Siddall wonders whether the world of illustration, and the events that champion them, have perhaps become a bit stale. And maybe we should take steps to champion as many new and exciting artists as possible, as opposed to falling back on the same names time and time again.

  10. List

    This week Rob Alderson welcomes the excellent Dazed 100 list of defining creative pioneers but wonders why readers are being asked to help rank the entries. As ever you can join the debate using the comment thread below….

  11. Opinion-list-new

    This week It’s Nice That director Will Hudson talks about why he reckons the new Randall Wright-directed documentary Hockney is so brilliant. You can let us know your thoughts in the comment thread below.

  12. Opinion-list

    This week assistant editor Maisie Skidmore asks what it is about weekly podcast Serial that has got the whole world talking. As ever, we want to hear what you think! Add your two pennies in the comment thread below.

  13. List

    This week Rob Alderson examines Paper Magazine’s attempts to “break the internet” with their nude Kim Kardashian photoshoot. He asks if it’s actually a good cover, and what (if anything) it tells us about the magazine industry. As ever you can add your thoughts below…