Lets start with the fact that this post is very lengthy and completely my own views. I have discussed my views a lot on social media about work placements/internships. I have particularly expressed my irritation of work placements which you have to work for free. I one hundred percent get that work placements/internships can be highly beneficial for the fact you get (or should get) experience in the industry which you are hoping to professionalise in. That experience you will gain should let you see what it is like to work in the career you’re hoping to go into as well as getting to maybe make contacts, gain additional skills and be part of a team.
I’m an aspiring graphic designer. When I’ve finished my degree I’m hoping to go into the advertising part of graphic design. My dream has always been to work for huge high end brands creating pieces for the outside public space as well as digitally through the mediums of social media. Now, I know I’m not going to get there overnight. I will have to build my portfolio up and get my work out there to get recognised. I also know that experience is definitely vital to get to my end goal.
Now, what I do not understand is that the majority of the graphic design internships/work placements, especially in fashion graphic design are unpaid (to be quite honest I’m not sure about other career paths as I’ve never researched or looked into them). I know the fashion industry is a hard industry to break into and that you have to put your whole heart and soul into it. What I don’t understand is why, we as interns, are not paid at least the minimum wage. After all, we are fresh eyes for a company with brand new ideas which maybe a company hasn’t thought of before as well as creating content for a brand. Whether that be research done for them through creating mood boards of ideas for a brand to maybe even designing actual prints for fashion pieces for a company, a promo video for a company or a look book.
The majority of internships/work placements do however offer expenses paid, which is usually 9/10 travel and/or lunch. I’ve been looking personally into internships/work placements within London as this is usually where all the bigger opportunities are. I recently had an internship/work placement which I stayed a total of three days at. This was because:
- The interviews. I went to a few interviews before I took this interview which I had to pay for from Southampton. Each day in travel alone cost me £34, maybe more if I had to get a train from Southampton in peak hours, as usually I have to reschedule my interview times to afternoon because of this – annoying for both the company and me.
- Getting to the place for the internship/work placement. I was lucky enough to stay with a friend for a week in London which I will forever be grateful for, but not everyone is as lucky as that. I did however have to pay £30 for just the train fare from Southampton to London and back, and thats with a railcard. I know the majority of you are thinking that isn’t expensive but the internship/work placement would have been six weeks long. That’d be way too much money, never mind the cost of getting from Waterloo to my friends and around London for the whole week. On top of paying rent back in Southampton monthly, bills and food. It was way too much as a student with barely enough money to pay rent every month.
- Then there is food and general living costs whilst being there. I was lucky my internship did pay for lunch, but there was of course food in the evening and mornings. I wasn’t going to let my friend make me food every morning/night. She is in the same position as me as a student and it just wouldn’t be fair on her.
All in all, the whole cost of doing an internship/work placement was a major downfall as well as other issues which I won’t talk about on here. The whole internship/work placement just felt like it wasn’t for me. I did, however, learn quite a lot considering the time I was there for. I learnt how to connect with companies, how to produce a look book/make a look book and made an Instagram video for their social media. I, however, felt like I needed a more design based focused internship/work placement within a bigger company, so there was more opportunity to learn from others as that is the whole idea of one.
I was so grateful for the opportunity I had with this internship/work placement, and one thing I’m super grateful was the lessons I learnt along the way in just the small few weeks. I’m on the look out for another one, which pays. They are however, far and few between but with each one I find I feel I could fit in I apply for. They are out there but as you can imagine they are very competitive, but who doesn’t love a little competition? I’m not just gonna apply now out of panic to make my 100 hours for my degree, for any one that I see.
Have you had the same kind of issues with and internship or work placement? I’d love to hear about them if you did!