Price of internships

17 02 2011

Reading  Ross Perlin’s Comment is Free article, ‘The new elitism of internships’, I was saddened to see that the next step in internships is people paying to do them.

At one time internships were an American oddity and the only time I expected to do anything similar was the two weeks in school when we were sent out to do work experience (where we sat around looking bewildered as people tried to find things for us to do.)

Then I left my corner of North Wales and moved to London in 2003 and looked into postitions within the media. As I scanned the vacancies I found there there to be some internship positions available – all without pay. I did a few weeks here and there with some big name media organisations, but it never led to a job, it became something to drop into conversation when I was working in whichever temping assignment I had been sent to.

Today, internship positions are rife and you can do one in all sorts of positions from journalism to administration (just take a look on Gumtree to see what I’m talking about.) Now it seems that people are paying to do internships and as Ross Perlin states internsips are fast becoming the realm of the priveledged. 

I have nothing against internships which last a few weeks, but I have met people who have done internships for months at a time and are essentially are unpaid workers. What they don’t realise is that they are filling a position which at one time would have been a paid one. The current econmic situation has led to job cuts followed by an increase in the number of companies looking for interns, it seems companies can’t afford to hire new staff and are using interns to fill full-time jobs.

It does help when you apply for a job if you have ‘experience’, but people don’t need to get it by working for free (and certainly not by paying for it). Internships should carry at the very least the apprentice rate minimum wage or at least cover expenses. There’s a fine line between experience and exploitation. 



Leaving an age of apathy

30 11 2010

History is my blood, in truth it’s a part of all of us, but since the day I began borrowing books from my small local library in north Wales the majority of them have been history ones. This love continued and I went on to study history at university. However, unlike a lot of my class I would doodle and daydream when the teacher talked of kings and queens. I didn’t care for royalty or the famous, I loved to hear about the lives of the ordinary folk, I was always wondering what would I be doing if I was born 100 years before.

I grew up watching footage of events in programmes chronicling the 20th Century and remember scenes of people standing up for themselves and making change – whether it was the civil rights movement in the United States, the Vietnam war protests or the students protesting in France in May 1968. I wanted to be there, I wanted to be a part of history, a part of change, change for the better.

My first opportunity came at 16 when a group of about seven of us protested the cut in courses in our college. The next was a protest against the building of holiday homes in my area which were to be built on a site of special scientific Interest. However, none of these really changed much – the college decided not to cut the courses anyway and planning permission was never given for the houses.

University is full of protesting potential, but not in my case. It seems I was there at the wrong time. While we were the first students to pay tuition fees nobody kicked up a huge fuss. We were given easy credit –banks filled the fresher’s fair hall and they gave us as many credit cards as we wanted (with a free gift of course). So we spent, and spent, and spent. By the end of the first year we were comparing how in the red our bank balances were while eating in restaurants we paid for on our cards.

I craved action and signed up for classes on the Spanish Civil War, the civil rights movement, even one on  The Great Cat Massacre (not ideal for a lifelong cat lover). I became head of the history society and organised talks by veterans of the international brigade, but while I soaked up the stories of the people involved in change my own generation was apathetic and could hardly muster enough energy to vote.

The only opportunity to be a part of something big came on February 15th 2008 when I marched on the streets of London against the Iraq War, but as most of my contemporaries said “It won’t change anything.”

So this is why I have to admire the students who are making their voices heard, wherever they may be. I know people who let a little bit of snow at the weekend stop them showing their anger about one of the biggest events to shape Irish history. This is my generation

So, I’m happy to see a new generation coming through who won’t sit quietly and do as they’re told.  Perhaps we’re finally leaving an age of apathy and entering one where the people shape history.

Why I took to the streets of Dublin

29 11 2010

I love Ireland. It’s a part of my heritage (my mother is Irish) and I spent much of my childhood in Dublin going to school in Walkinstown for a year and spending my summers with my grandparents.

Since my first journey on the ferry from Holyhead I took as a baby I have seen Ireland change: the years when women sold lighters on Henry Street “four for a pound”, the opening of the new shopping centre in Tallaght, the switch to the Euro and later the boom years.

I moved to Dublin in 2007 to further my education. The city was doing well, but had lost much of the identity I remembered from my childhood. The women selling items from prams were gone, some of the Irish shops we used to frequent were replaced by big name retailers selling clothes at higher prices than the UK and the small corner shop with the family name was boarded up.

But in the years since I arrived things have turned again and you can see the changes all around you, from the closed shops to the increase in homeless people on the streets.

When I finished my course in 2008 I got a minimum wage job and tried to make ends meet. I could just pay my rent, but had little money for nights out or for trips back to Wales.  I got another job so I could have extra cash and ended up working from 9am to 11pm and arriving home at midnight. I have never been so tired in my whole life.

So when I heard the government plans to cut the minimum wage I was disappointed.  I can understand that there are people who are already struggling to make ends meet and now they’ll have to cut back even further.  I am angry that the Irish government’s methods of saving money attacks the people who can least afford it and doesn’t take enough from the overpaid fat cats who partied during the good times and don’t want to pick up the bar tab.

That is one of the reasons why I was one of those who took to the streets on Saturday to make sure the government know and the rest of the world can see that the people think that this is not acceptable.

Ddyledion Iwerddon

18 11 2010

Dylai pawb wedi clywed am sefyllfa economaidd Iwerddon erbyn hyn (er roedd un ddynes yn gwaith ddim ‘di clywed).

Rydw i newydd dathlu y trydydd pen-blwydd ers i mi gyrraedd ar yr ynys werdd yma, ac yn yr amser yna mae’r sefyllfa economaidd wedi mynd o ddrwg i llanast rhyngwladol.
(I weld lle mae pob dim yn mynd o’i le gallwchbwrw golwg ar y BBC yn erthygl am y sefyllfa.)

Nid yw bywyd y tu mewn i’r swigen mor ddrwg. Mae cyflogau yn dal i fod yn uwch nag yn y Prydain, person di-waith yn ei gael, fodd bynnag, ni ellir sefyllfa yma parhau fel hyn.
Mae llywodraeth Iwerddon gwario yn ystod yr adegau da ac ddim yn buddsoddi ar gyfer diwrnod glawog fel yr rhai sydd yn bodoli heddiw. Maent hefyd yn gadael i fanciau gael i ffwrdd â llofruddiaeth ac wedyn i sicrhau y banciau – ag Iwerddon oedd yr wlad gyntaf yn y byd i wneud hynny.

Fy marn i yw bod y llywodraeth Gwyddelig wedi pydru i’r craidd, ac er bod y llywodraeth Cymru ag Llundain yn bell o fod yn berffaith, rwy’n amau y byddent yn mynd i ffwrdd gyda hanner y pethau mae Fianna Fáil wedi gwneud. Beth bynnag, nid yw pob bys yn rhoid yr bai ar Brian Cowan, roedd Bertie Ahern gyda ran fawr i’w chwarae yn dinistrio’r economi Gwyddelig a llwyddo i gadael yn ddi-bai am yr sefyllfa mae Iwerddon mewn heddiw.

Felly, ar hyn o bryd o’r tu mewn i’r wlad dydi pethau yn ymddangos i fod yn rhy ddrwg, ond mae pawb yn barod i bethau waethygu cyn iddynt wella.

Let me finish my point…

27 04 2010

Dr Eurfyl ap Gwilym yn rhoi Paxman yn ei le.
Dr Eurfyl ap Gwilym gives Paxman a mouthful.