Exploitation or experience? – an intern’s view

With campaigners calling on Ed Miliband to end unpaid internships and the news of a National Union of Journalists’ tribunal involving an intern’s payment at the forefront of the media, amongst the threatened exploitation, is there still a place for valued, unpaid interns within arts organisations?

Lindsay Blair, an intern at Culturapedia which hosts mailout magazine and mailout.co based in Blackburn, Lancashire is proof that a placement can be worthwhile to both herself and to the company.

“Although there are some companies out there who will hire interns to make tea and file papers, in my experience most smaller companies value the extra hands, even for a week or so, and I have put my skills into practice in a professional environment. This has been really beneficial to me and I believe to the company that I have worked for voluntarily.”
“Working at mailout was a very enjoyable, worthwhile experience. I was welcomed warmly and encouraged to get to work straight away, something which doesn’t always happen on other placements. The small team were very friendly and I felt like a part of them within a matter of days. My ideas for stories were welcomed and I was able to put my initiative to good use by writing several published stories every day for the website and also some for the magazine.”

Lindsay says that out of the many internships she has done in local and national media, mailout is one of the most enjoyable opportunities she has had.

“The whole point of doing placements in journalism is to get a true to life experience of how magazines operate on a day-to-day basis and I feel like I gained a lot of this from my two and a half weeks with mailout. I have gained valuable insight into the operation of a business as well as gaining pieces for my portfolio that I am really proud of.”

Lindsay, who is now working as a News Feeds Correspondent at Adfero, a news writing agency based in central Manchester, says that gaining experience in the media industry is a must for those wishing to get a full time job in that field.

“The best bit about gaining experience in the media is the diversity and excitement that each day can bring. Through working with mailout I wrote about things which I had never really thought about and I delved into interesting subject areas that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do. I will remember my time at mailout with fond memories and hope to maintain contact with the team for years to come.”