ONLY ‘MEDIOCRE’ GRADUATES WOULD QUESTION THE VALUE OF UNPAID INTERNSHIPS, SAYS EDINBURGH BOSS
Do some bosses feel it’s their human right to hire unpaid staff? Like many people, we were shocked by the story about Casa Morada, the Edinburgh interior design business that advertised six unpaid, full-time, six-month internships. As each job required 35 hours work per week, the business was advertising 5,460 hours of unpaid work.
But we were even more shocked by their response to being challenged. When Edinburgh-based artist Eugene MacDonald asked why the business expected people to work for nothing, the founder of Casa Morada – Eve Serrano – wrote:
“I fully expect you to proof [sic] to me that you can actually be an asset to my business before I invest seriously in you with a full time contract.
“I deliberately place UNPAID intern positions precisely to sort out the mediocre (you) who will never apply, from the formidable. You will never go far with your present mindset. Rest assured of that. 150 CVs now in, from as far as London, and counting.”
But Serrano was just getting warmed up. She later told The Student:
“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.
“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.”
What a lovely lady. Happily, Casa Morada has now been reported to HM Revenue and Customs (thanks to The Student and campaign group Intern Aware) and the adverts have been removed.
But it got us thinking about some of the most extreme cases of intern exploitation that we’ve heard about, and the shocking attitudes of those who employ – or attempt to employ – unpaid interns.
What’s the rudest thing an employer has ever said to you, when you asked about pay or questioned the value of your internship? Is Eve Serrano a one-off, or do other employers share her disdain for young workers? Please share your stories below…