Monday, 11 April 2011

To pay or not to pay?

Can't believe it's been a month since I last posted, I'm truly awful at this!

But it's been a busy month. The usual end of term deadlines, plus, more excitingly, work experience on a local magazine. 

Before going to work experience I wasn't sure what to expect, as you hear about so many placements that result in relentless tea-making and mind numbing filing, with very little else to show, but I had high expectations for this placement-I had arranged it directly with the editor of the magazine, and she therefore knew about my journalistic ambitions and eagerness to gain relevant experience-surely I would not just be relegated to position as office tea maker? 

This got me thinking about the (seemingly ever-raging) debate about work experience and internships-should they be paid positions or not?

Whilst I would never turn down an offer of being paid for a placement, I have always thought that companies who take people on for work experience should be under no obligations to pay them for their efforts. After all, they are going to the effort of, at the very least, finding you a placement and finding you tasks to do to keep you occupied, no doubt causing interruptions to their usual working day. Having said this, I also feel that if you are undertaking the tasks that no one else wants to do (filing, shredding etc.), they should at least give you something in return-tasks related to the experience you are hoping to gain, for instance.

This was the deal I made with the editor of the magazine I was working on. I arrived on the first day and was put to work on a backlog of competition entries from previous issues of the magazine, a task which, from the backlog of data I had to sort through, it seems that either no-one else had the time or the will to do. A boring and unrelated task you may think. But it was made clear from the offset that if I was to spend my first day doing the company a favour by doing this, I would be given a more relevant and interesting task the next day.

And they were true to their word. The following day I was put to work on an article which will hopefully be published in the upcoming issue. My first 'proper' article that I wrote myself from start to finish, contacted people for quotes, pictures etc., and which has led to me being invited to a press conference on Wednesday, a brilliant opportunity to gain some industry relevant experience, and something that looks good on my CV (I realise this sounds shallow, but this is what work experience is about, after all.)

Therefore, I do not necessarily agree that work experience should be paid, as the company is going out of their way to accommodate you, and I believe that if you are trying to break into a notoriously tricky industry such as the media, you must be prepared to work for little (or nothing) on your way up. If, however, a company you are doing work experience with has you carrying out the mundane tasks that no one else wants to do, with few tasks that are relevant to your career aspirations, it is only right that you speak up-you should be rewarded, if not financially, then at least with some sort of experience to show for your efforts.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Laura! We completely agree. Have you read our thoughts? (http://www.inspiringinterns.com/blog/2011/04/why-national-minimum-wage-does-not-mean-a-fair-deal-for-interns/)

    What do you think?

    ReplyDelete