Feeding the trolls – Brendan O’Neill on Unpaid internships

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Another response to Brendan O’Neill.

Masterful troll that he is, the Spiked editor has spurred me to retort once more. Seeing as this is a topical issue, one very relevant to me, I thought I’d post my response here for further discussion.

Original Article –
Why interns don’t deserve pay – by Brendan O’Niell

My response…

“Is there anything worse than when middle-class campaigners use grubby-kneed poor folk as a Trojan horse for the pursuit of their own self-enriching escapades? Resilient working-class kids have for years topped up their internships with Saturday jobs or evening work, while kipping on a friend’s couch to cut outgoings.”

Oh Brendan, how utterly contrived your argument is. As an intern who comes from a low income family, and as an aspiring journalist, I think you’re just a bit out of touch with what obstacles people like me face these days.

I intern 5 days a week, and work weekends when I can. I am on the books of three different temping agencies. I think this is neither fair nor just, namely, that people with wealthy parents have significantly easier circumstances than me. Life would be considerably easier if I was even just paid a menial sum of money for my efforts, rather than next to nothing.

I agree that an internship is an opportunity to learn; I do not contend that interns are “work” for the company “employing” them. But the fact that I can’t claim jobseekers while interning, that I am given no state support is simply ridiculous. I can’t even afford to pay my phone bill, the interest on my student account overdraft, and more and more this just makes internships very unappealing. But without doing unpaid work, the simple fact is, it would be near on impossible for me to become a successful journalist.

Oh yes, but we mustn’t forget the middle-class campaigners now, right Brendan? The people who can actually afford to finance their children’s internships. But I suppose there are plenty of middle class campaigners to argue for the importance of unpaid internships, ones such as, editors of small online magazines perhaps? The same small magazines that quite frequently use and abuse unpaid interns. Now for me at least, this is “easily the most grating argument” used by a greedy businessman such as yourself Brendan.

While I do not disagree that internships are very useful and if not more so to the intern, the fact remains, is they ultimately make the business employing them money. I can find several articles written by interns on Spiked alone that are more successful than a lot of your own articles Brendan. And a lot of your posts are simply written to irk the far left wing, and thereby garner you views and comments. I’ve been following your articles for some time now, and it is my opinion that you’re nothing more than just a glorified troll Brendan.

Interns deserve to be paid for their efforts, even if it is below minimum wage. But you ride off their success; you don’t give them the monetary value their efforts deserve, however small it may be. As someone who has worked for Living Marxism, I’m sure you must understand why this is wrong?

 

Fellow interns, what are your thoughts on unpaid internships?

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