Monday, 12 November 2012


I may change the banner of this blog to - 'Hurry Up and Pay Me Already - the (sometimes thankless) life of an intern'

As previously mentioned here I have recently returned from a break visiting family in the U S of A and am feeling Much Better. If I was a Pokemon i'd be in full health

So imagine I'm writing this as my pre-holiday self who thanks to juggling internships, bar work, the odd running job for random film shoots and, god forbid, a social life has not had much time for writing. 

Internships. They mainly fall into three categories; 
The Good
The Bad
The Ugly.

Being paid for working is becoming a thing of the past. Sadly for us recent graduates times are hard and the prospect of finding paid employment is slim without putting in months of interning first. 
And its not just those wanting to work in fashion or media anymore. I know wannabe engineers, lawyers, graphic designers and Art Gallery attendants who are all on board the intern train, hoping the next stop will be Paid Employment...

I've been interning for over a year now, unpaid, in a variety of different industries (radio/film/fashion/PR) and while its not all fun and games I have gained some really valuable experience. 

I never really had a career goal when I went off to Uni. I had a very vague notion of teaching English somewhere in Spain but, lets be honest now, I wasn't really planning much beyond my fancy dress costume for the next BOP*.
So interning can be really useful for those undecided souls like me because you can try a variety of roles and cross them off your 'what I want to be when I grow up' list as appropriate. It also opens your eyes to lots of job possibilities that you may not have even known existed. 

The questions is: at what point do you stop? 
Without a definite end point, when do you say 'enough is enough'?
With so many graduates fighting it out for the few roles available there is A LOT of pressure to keep on interning for fear of loosing out to another wannabe who can afford to intern for months on end without ending up penniless and destitute. 
And that's what gets to me, the stress of Not Knowing and the Financial Worry. 
I can't afford to intern for much longer as savings are dwindling and I can't work any more hours in the bar whilst interning as its not humanly possible. Unless I didn't sleep at all. Or had super powers. Or Bernard's watch. 
Now there's a thought...

But, touch wood, I've been pretty lucky to get the placements I have. There are some real horror stories out there about being made to tidy store cupboards for a fortnight (I actually had to do this while on a placement in Spain) or being treated as free labor with no thanks or any job prospect at the end of it. 
Now if I can just make some money from my designs I might be able to hold out for a little bit longer until the holy grail of permanent paid full time role is finally within reach...

So here's some advice from an old hack for all you soon to be interns;

  • Be prepared to work hard (and not sleep) Bar work and early mornings do not good bedfellows make. If you don't like coffee - well, start liking it. Immediately. 
  • Get Organised. In order to maximize sleeping hours plan ahead. If you have to go straight from the office to working in a bar/restaurant get your uniform packed the night before, make your lunch before you go to sleep and make sure you have time to get a shower as to avoid the dreaded Bad Hair Day. Sounds like being back at school but trust me three months down the line and you'll appreciate any extra sleep time. A lot.
  • Invest in a diary (and a smart phone) There's nothing worse than rushing because you've forgotten you're in work at 5, not 6, or that on the way to a meeting/lecture/show you realize you can't find the address. Google maps has saved my bacon more times than I care to count. God Bless you GPS.
  • Relocation, relocation. Look for work near your humble abode. An extra hours travelling time to get home, especially when its cold or raining is a killer. No matter how fit that barman might be...
  • Lastly - enjoy your internships. That's not to say its going to be all wild parties and crazy nights out but if you can't relax and be yourself, then what's the point? 
And lastly - If all else fails bribery is always an option. I find teabags and chocolate always go down well. 

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