When I left my job in May I interviewed with a "cool kids" brand that does pretty innovative work. They were looking for an intern to help out online. It was made clear from the start that there would be no remuneration  which considering the specs and what was expected of me I was open to. In the initial exchange I learnt that the social media intern would come in a couple of days a week, for a couple of hours at a time and help with their digital efforts. 

Thinking that I  had a freelance gig lined up as soon as I served my notice period at my job, I was willing to work for "experience" at this internship and bulk up my CV. But by the time I went to an interview with them the internship spec had changed. I was now expected to do a lot of what's in my repertoire, what I was trying to get people to pay me for as a freelancer. All the while they still maintained that there'd be no pay. It went from "we need someone to help us think of fun things to put online and answer customer queries online to dude, you'll be our in-house copywriter/ideas girl." My freelance gig fell through and instead of spending my rent/food/life money commuting to a job that wasn't paying me I ended passing on the internship.

I always find myself on this very thin line. Especially as a creative without the "recognised" training from a school that charges 50K a year to teach people how to be creative. What I lack in "formal training" I have always been more than willing to make up for in starting at the bottom and my will do attitude. But I've found that the bottom is, often than not, a very unreasonable place. A place where only a select few without rent, bills and teens to feed can thrive and grow.

Just last week I applied for another internship at a magazine's online department. The specs are absurd but I'm at a place where I feel like there's no other way for me to make strides in my career. So what if the unpaid internship expects me to have a car (which I don't), be willing to work full-time for the remainder of the year and bring a certain number of skills with me? It's a foot in the door.

But at what cost to me? Even though I'd be doing a 9 - 5 I'd still have no way of paying my rent or getting to said 9 - 5. I think it's very thoughtless of companies to expect young people to work on a full-time basis for free. Starving artists are not a novelty. Being young, gifted and hungry is not a luxury. And if we're being honest only the sort of people who live at home (have rent allowance) and got cars as their high school graduation present are the target market for these internships.

I'm not even sure where I'm leaning when it comes to this particular internship. Half the time I do these things to prove to myself that I can get them then I let anxiety get the better of me. However if I am short-listed for interviews and end up getting this internship I'll do my best to make it work. Something's gotta give.

Sincerely,
Nomali