UPDATE: We have friends in high places! PR guru Mark Borkowski has just tweeted that this advert is “not a good look” for Brazen

An outrageous advert for a PR internship has been labelled “the perfect example of today’s warped relationship between employers and graduates.” Yet, when the firm was questioned by Graduate Fog, staff appeared not to grasp any objections to the “opportunity” on offer.

There is so much wrong with the bizarre posting — from the appropriately named Brazen PR, who boldly tweeted it last week — that we don’t know where to start. The pathetic wage (which works out as £1.42 per hour for a 35 hour work week)? The grandiose offer to work with a “PR legend” – who turns out to be last year’s intern? The rigorous selection process (applicants must create a “personal trailer” video, then attend a selection day)? Or the fact that it appears that the successful candidates will be asked to organise their own leaving party at the end of their placement? You decide:

Brazen Summer Camp advert thin

Here’s what happened when we wrote to Brazen (which represents brands such as Kelloggs, Hilton and Chewits)…

WE ASKED: How does Brazen PR feel the payment offered to these two interns (up to £50 per week expenses), fits with the National Minimum Wage law?

BRAZEN ANSWERED: Brazen’s internship is an opportunity for a graduate to experience life in a PR agency, shadowing and learning from the agency’s talented team. Any successful volunteers are just that; volunteers who appreciate the value of getting hands-on experience and seeing first-hand, how the skills they’ve learned throughout university can be executed to yield amazing results.

WE ASKED: Your advert states that applicants must be available to take up the internships from 13 June to 22 July, which makes clear you are expecting these interns to attend every day. Please can you confirm what hours the interns will be expected to work during that period?

BRAZEN ANSWERED: The internship, now in its second year, was devised in consultation with the PR department at MMU’s Business School and is set for a period of six weeks to allow the successful graduate a full and rounded experience. With a diverse range of activation planned for that period, from attending press shows and events to shadowing Brazen’s CEO and observing a live pitch – the successful candidate will have the opportunity to cover a broad spectrum of the PR world. We set up the internship to give something back to students and the universities at which they study; we’re committing to investing six weeks of our time to ensure the graduate gets the most valuable experience possible, giving them better prospects to go onto landing their dream job.

NOT COOL: PR guru Mark Borkowski tweeted his support for interns, in response to our story

NOT COOL: PR guru Mark Borkowski tweeted his support for interns, in response to our story

WE ASKED: What makes this a Summer Camp rather than just an unpaid internship? And can you clarify what exactly the party is that the interns will be expected to organise “from start to finish”?

BRAZEN ANSWERED: It’s called a Summer Camp because that’s just what it is – a chance to learn from the best and have fun while you’re at it. The party is Brazen’s internal summer social and who better to help organise than those who party the hardest?!

WE ASKED: Can you explain why you feel it is reasonable to ask applicants to spend time creating a ‘personal trailer’ to ‘leave [you] wanting more’, and then attend a selection day, when the internship does not even pay a wage?

BRAZEN ANSWERED: The PR world is fiercely competitive; any graduate worth their salt will be expected to go above and beyond to nail their dream job. This is their first opportunity to learn how to stand out from the pack. If they’re serious about making brands stars of the screen, they need to first learn how to make themselves stars…

WE ASKED: Our reader feels that you have over emphasised the value of this experience. For example, the ‘PR legend’ interns will be lucky enough to work with is in fact your last year’s intern, who is still only 22 years old. What is your response to that criticism?

BRAZEN ANSWERED: In our minds, Rebecca is a legend. She beat off tough competition to bag the placement which went on to her landing her dream job. And she’s proven her worth ever since. And it’s not just us that think so… Her success, and our internship, was applauded by The Sun Employment page, too (see attached scan).

BRAZEN: This small article makes last year's intern a "PR legend," apparently

BRAZEN: This small article makes last year’s intern a “PR legend,” apparently

We aren’t very impressed — and nor was the reader who drew our attention to the advert. The 22-year-old graduate — who has a first class degree from the University of the West of England — told Graduate Fog:

“This advert is the perfect example of today’s warped relationship between employers and graduates.

“Although most big companies now pay their interns, smaller firms continue to offer outrageous opportunities like this because they know they can get away with it. They know that graduates are so desperate for experience they’ll take anything they can get – even if it pays expenses, or nothing at all.

“Unfortunately, I can’t afford to work for £50 per week, so I won’t be apply for this internship.”

The PR industry has come a long way on internships – with many of the big firms now pledging only to offer paid positions for junior staff. But Graduate Fog still hears far too many stories about smaller firms – like Brazen – still indulging in the grubby practice of dressing up unpaid positions as “opportunities to gain experience”. When will they learn the simple truth: that unpaid is unfair?

Is this as great an experience as the PR firm makes out? Or does it bug you when employers over-hype the quality of the opportunity on offer, especially if it’s unpaid?

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