Serial Intern

Young and Naïve (Doing the dirty work for free)

Doing the Extra to get ahead in a cutthroat industry


With the current economic crisis and high unemployment rate, the number of students willing to work for less than the cost of a freddo chocolate bar (20p?!) is overwhelming. Unfortunately, in an industry that is as cutthroat as “Sweeney Todd” it seems completing an internship or two, becoming what they call a serial intern (not to be mistaken for cereal intern – one who must live on smart price cornflakes) has become vital in order to bag a job. But how much of the dirty work are we willing to do for free?

“I was the devil but I couldn’t afford Prada”

If characters in movies depict a true representation of how it is in industry it would have anyone shaking in their Choos. Meryl Streep’s character in ‘The Devil wears Prada’ allegedly mirrors Vogue US Editor Anna Wintour, whose behaviour is as razor sharp as her bob haircut. Tales of Wintour’s imperious behaviour have grown over the years to form a mythology around her. There are a number of unwritten rules for office etiquette which interns at Wintours 10th floor Manhattan office pledge to never break.

One must never share a lift with the Devil, One must never converse with the Devil. One must obey the Devil at all times. Such rules enough to turn anyone into the Devil although, of course, as an intern one cannot afford Prada!

Is the representation of characters in such movies a true representation or a misconception of the tales told by bitter serial interns?

An online campaign ‘Graduate Fog’ shows young people emerging in industry voicing out about their role and responsibilities. Most, describing their responsibilities as unrealistic and impossible, describing how they were working harder than paid employees for zilch! Although it seems preposterous that interns are apparently being exploited for free work – illegal or not it is a necessary evil, a path most emerging creative minds must take to progress in an industry as fierce as Fashion. It is ‘Who you know not what you know’ after all! The long hours worked will pay off when you get to see a design you assisted on come to life shown on a catwalk or a feature in a magazine you helped to piece. The contacts made through such experiences will become an archive you shall treasure.

Someone once told me “you will never learn as much as you will watching someone do their job.” It’s the little things you don’t learn from books, how someone might choose to finish a stitch or design the lighting for a shoot. All experience is good experience and with a portfolio bursting at the seams with internship experience someone, somewhere just might hire you.

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