Lesson (1) - Do not offer a series of internships that are definitely illegal and break employment law by not paying minimum wage. Specifically don't advertise them on gumtree.
Lesson (2) - When confronted over your chicanery, do not respond with a series of aggressive and insulting comments, insinuating that young people are shiftless and talentless hacks who should be glad dammit of your offer of indentured servitude.
Can you tell where our case study employer Eva Serrano of 'Casa Morada' went wrong:
In an email to The Student, Serrano defended her employment practices and rejected the suggestion that they were illegal and immoral. She said, "We don't believe that working 35 hours per week does in any form disadvantage students from poorer backgrounds because we all have universal access to 168 hours in every week of the year.
"The question here is how badly do you want to get into the highly competitive creative industry. Some will be prepared to make the personal sacrifice of holding two jobs, one paid, one unpaid, during six months to obtain valuable and priceless experience, increasing their chances of future employability, while others simply won't bother."
Serrano added: "A university degree is meaningless nowadays. Any average person with moderate IQ out there can get one.
"A recent graduate on an internship is an "intern" i.e. someone with limited capacity to make a serious and immediate contribution from the start and [is] largely "clueless" as to the challenges of surviving in a competitive environment."
Lesson (3) - When people unsurprisingly go ballistic on your facebook page do not double down and pretend that you are the victim
Some excerpts from the comment sections:
And the doubling down, round 1:
"APOLOGIES …… TIME TO GET THE FACTS RIGHT
For a small business so dedicated to invest in and promote local young talent, the unfairness, hypocrisy and irony of such utterly sensationalist and distorted student article has no end. Voluntary work experience 6 month "internships" are universal and widely accepted in the creative industries. We have in fact run successful voluntary internships in tandem with universities and job centres with great success.
Past interns are now back at university finishing their degree or, through their own choice, and thanks to the valuable experience gained, working for top companies in London. A voluntary internship is generally perceived and understood as a mutually beneficial agreement between a business and a university student or recent graduate with no professional experience whatsoever.
Our mistake was to naively think we could run the exact same internships out with the parameters of university or job centre programmes, which we did with the sole objective to speed up the process and select the very best candidates out there.
Only 3 internships were office based. The rest were project based giving graduates full flexibility to enhance and fill in any gaps in their portfolio on their spare time.
1. If distinguishing between a voluntary work experience graduate "intern" and a permanent member of "staff" is wrong, we are wrong.
2. If responding to universities and graduates complaints about lack of work experience internship opportunities in the market is inappropriate, we are inappropriate.
3. If setting internship voluntary work experience opportunities to the industry standard of 6 months is unbelievable, we are unbelievable.
4. If looking for the most passionate, most determined, most "feverishly following their dream" truly talented graduates out there, with a view to permanent employment, is unfair, we are unfair.
5. If wanting "AUTHENTIC" candidates who can delay instant gratification for long term professional reward is crazy, we are crazy.
6. If standing for what you believe in and "telling it like it is" is called "rude", we are "rude".
Followed shortly by round 2:
"WORK EXPERIENCE INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES ARE NOW FULLY WITHDRAWN.
SHOULD WE WISH TO EXPLORE THEM AT ALL, IT WILL BE WITHIN THE REALM OF UNIVERSITY ESTABLISHED GRADUATE WORK EXPERIENCE PROGRAMMES, UNDER THEIR TERMS AND CONDITIONS, TO AVOID ANY FURTHER MISUNDERSTANDINGS, OFFENCE OR OUTRAGE.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH TO ALL OF THOSE WHO APPLIED FOR YOUR TIME AND INTEREST AND FOR SEEING THOSE VOLUNTARY INTERNSHIPS FOR EXACTLY THE MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL OPPORTUNITY THEY WERE INTENDED TO BE."
Followed by the "We're the real victim! Oh no, those student manifestations!" plea:
STUDENT MANIFESTATIONS OUTSIDE THE BUSINESS
We have been informed that there will be student manifestations outside Casa Morada to boycott the business.
It seems that the INMEDIATE RECTIFICATION ON OUR PART AND FULL WITHDRAWAL OF ALL WORK EXPERIENCE INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES is not enough and some students somehow feel that our business must be turned into a case study in internships code of practice, whilst raising the profile of the case in the media.
It does not take a genius to figure out that someone who seeks out to exploit would not advertise the exploitation on Gumtree, one of the largest advertising platforms in the UK, on sponsored listings for maximum visibility, and would probably take a more clandestine approach.
None of the ads were ever reported to the Gumtree team, over 200 CV's flooded in, and thus we had no reason to suspect we were contravening standard internship recruitment practice.
We were merely and genuinely responding to strong demand from students, graduates and universities for work experience internship opportunities in the market, especially since they are now compulsory and integral part of many university degrees.The main pre-requisites on the employer are that they must necessarily be 6 months and full time, exactly as advertised by us.
We would strongly advise any business out there plunging into the murky waters of work experience internships to seek professional advice on the matter or stick to established 6 months full time work experience internship programmes, working in close collaboration with universities.
To those of you still emailing your CVs and expressing interest in a work experience internship opportunity with us, we are most grateful indeed, but note that such internships have been, once again, fully withdrawn. We are most grateful indeed for your support and for seeing those internships for what they were intended, a mutually beneficial work experience opportunity.
We have not been told when such student manifestations will take place but please email [Email Redacted - ED] to find out.
So concludes our lesson for the week! Follow these three simple lessons and you can avoid being named and shamed in the national newspapers...
But seriously, this is an important microcosm of a worrying large scale trend in the UK. Increasingly students and other young people are being expected to put up with worse and worse job conditions in the hopes of eventually attaining a living wage in the distant future.
This news story has broken at more the less the exact same time as another story where the HEAD OF OFSTED said that the reason that youth unemployment is high is because of the fact that young people are lazy and do not have punctuality or dress skills.
When did it become acceptable to increasingly offer unpaid internships to young people and then simultaneously, when they balk at the idea of long-term unpaid labour, to accuse them of being lazy and untalented? How much longer as a country are we going to put up with this?
Seeing as this is the gift that keeps on giving, some continued highlights:
They sell a three monkeys "See no evil, say no evil, hear no evil" lamp.
I wonder if a starving intern made it.
The Train crash continues....