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Internships: I Went on Another Twitter Rant But This Time I Ended Up on TV

So last night I had my prime time TV debut – on Channel 10’s The Project. Well it was my debut if you don’t count being a quiz contestant on Recovery circa 1998, or an audience member on (the new, terrible) Hey Hey It’s Saturday, Live at the Chapel and supportive friend on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (you tried your hardest, Bec, it was rigged from the start).

Here I am:

Miranda Kerr The Project

OK FINE.

Rose Callaghan The Project

Last time I went on a Twitter rant about Ryan Gosling and created the now famous #Goslingwatch hashtag (LOL), it made national news. It’s like the internet never wants me to shut up. Stop encouraging me, internet!

So much has happened in the last two weeks it’s basically impossible to summarise in one blog post. Yet I will attempt to do so anyway.

If you keep an eye on my twitter page, you may have seen myself and dear friend Nikki getting particularly fired up about this “internship situation” we have on our hands at the moment. “What situation?” you ask. Well the fact that probably half the jobs in media, the arts, fashion, digital, etc being advertised are internships. And they are unpaid. And people like us, who have experience, looking for “real jobs” are presented with nothing but internships.

This one particularly got us worked up.

Moo said the cow internship

The things we loved the best about this:

  • When they spelled “writer” with 2 t’s, eg. “writter” (EDIT: they changed the spelling on their site after we roasted them on Twitter! Trust me though, it really did say that).
  • When they mentioned “attention to detail” twice in one sentence. LOL.
  • The unnecessary use of “quotation marks” in many “parts” of their job “listing”. It was almost as though they were calling bullshit on themselves when they did this for “work experience.” Wink wink nudge nudge unpaid employees hehehe

This one was pretty funny too. They wanted a NATIVE English speaker, who must be fluent in French for a full time internship over 12 months. “Masters degree preferred”!!!

I figured this had to be one of these rare paid internships, given the length and skills required until I saw the TWELVE internships advertised on their website (FFS!!) in everything from Book Reviews to SENIOR Editorial. I. just. can’t. *tries to breathe*

Once we started ranting, it became clear we had struck a nerve. A lot of other people were sick of all these “internships” as well and started tweeting some of the most LOL-inducing ones to us.

I could post all the funniest ones but let’s get down to the real issue at hand: organisations are using unpaid interns for roles that should be paid. Fair Work Australia has some guidelines on what constitutes “work experience” or an “internship”. You can check out the fact sheet online here. Basically there are Vocational Placements, “part of a formal work experience arrangements that are a mandatory part of an education or training course.”

Aside from that an unpaid internship or work experience can be legal, but it hinges on a few indicators:

  • Purpose of the arrangement. Was it to provide work experience to the person or was it to get the person to do work to assist with the business outputs and productivity?
  • Length of time. Generally, the longer the period of placement, the more likely the person is an employee
  • The person’s obligations in the workplace. Although the person may do some productive activities during a placement, they are less likely to be considered an employee if there is no expectation or requirement of productivity in the workplace
  • Who benefits from the arrangement? The main benefit of a genuine work placement or internship should flow to the person doing the placement. If a business is gaining a significant benefit as a result of engaging the person, this may indicate an employment relationship has been formed. Unpaid work experience programs are less likely to involve employment if they are primarily observational
  • Was the placement entered into through a university or vocational training organisation program? If so, then it is unlikely that an employment relationship exists.

Don’t get me wrong – internships and work experience are great! If the kids taking them on aren’t being exploited. I did work experience at Lonely Planet (High school. Also HOW GOOD RIGHT?!), plus internships at PBS FM (just after school, but it’s a community organisation so falls into “volunteer”), The Leukaemia Foundation of Victoria (not for profit, for uni) and Shiny Entertainment (uni). Yeah I did some really cool internships and they were AWESOME. I also remember back in those days many people saying flat out “no” because they “didn’t have time to take on an intern.”

When I landed these roles I was the one cold-calling them and convincing them they needed to go out of the way to take me on. Nowadays organisations are putting call-outs online – just for interns – and getting 200 applicants back (according to one employer who told me she’d advertised on Pedestrian Jobs). In the media industry, websites like Pedestrian Jobs and The Loop are getting stacks of page views from people’s desperation to land that great media job or just get their foot in the door with an unpaid internship.

Another point I had:

Nikki and I – and subsequently others – put the pressure on Pedestrian Jobs on Twitter. Their carefactor was extremely low. “Chillax”, indeed!

Pedestrian Jobs tweet

Shit started to get crazy.

At some point I started harrassing a guy I know on Twitter named Tom (who works at The Project) about this issue.

And then something miraculous happened. They called me!

A few days later The Project came to film me at my house.  It was pretty funny. They filmed all these cutaways of me “sipping a latte in a cafe” and “sitting at a computer looking for jobs”. They also interviewed me for around 20 minutes. The whole thing took around two and a half hours.

Since Adelaide University released their report on the findings of a study into interns conducted on behalf of Fair Work Ombudsman yesterday, the mainstream news grabbed onto it.

I had been waiting to hear when my segment would air. Once the report came out I got the word that it would play that night. This is my bit on the television. 2.5 hours recording turned into 25 seconds on TV. Showbiz huh?!

WATCH: The Project – Internships Report

I think I came across pretty well, although

  • Hey Rose, maybe try smiling?
  • I made a bad call about how to do my hair.
  • I’m going on a diet (although the camera adds 10 pounds yeah?)
  • They did not mention the fact that I have been working in media for 6 years. I came across as a graduate. Here is my Linkedin page with all my experience, yo.
  •  I spoke a lot about how bad the UK and US system is, but that all got chopped. It was a short segment though so it’s hard to fit so many messages in.
  • I just realised I said I volunteer in commercial radio. I meant COMMUNITY radio. I don’t think commercial radio need any volunteers.

After the news on the report dropped, Pedestrian Jobs changed their tune, which was quite hilarious.

I pulled them up on the contradictions in their messages (and their use of the word “chillax) in the comments. It goes on and this blog is long enough so you can read it under the article.

So that is that. Another Twitter controversy. I’m glad I did it. Now give me a job yeah?

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