After reading an article on PRCareers about the law surrounding paying interns and the work they do it’s sparked me to write this blog post about the topic and my own opinion on obtaining internships within the industry.
“It’s impossible to get a job in the creative industry without experience”(BBC, 2017)
As an industry, PR has predominantly been seen as a white middle-class job, and the industry has come under fire as it needs to be more diverse in terms of ethnicity and socio-economic backgrounds. The PR field is already doing more to tackle these issues and opportunities such Taylor Bennett Foundation’s trainee programme is helping to lead the industry into the future. Even though it’s a start a lot more needs to be done in order to meet requirements.
After searching the web recently trying to find an internship to better my experience it has become apparent to me that companies are still aren’t paying their interns, in some cases even for full-time positions.
‘However, some critics say unpaid internships are only available to young people who can either support themselves or who have parents who can provide for them while they work without pay.’ (BBC, 2017)
Don’t get me wrong, I can understand it from an employers point of view, hiring an intern is a great way to test out their talent and what they know to see if they’d be a good fit for the company; but if this means they are benefiting the company (gaining coverage, creating profitable idea’s and helping on successful campaigns) then surely they deserve to be rewarded for their work.
‘It is generally accepted by the UK PR community that unpaid PR internships are A Bad Thing.’ (PRCareers, 2017)
My argument is that if junior/graduate positions require a good amount of experience within the field, students or young people from less well-off socio-economic backgrounds miss out, as they can’t afford to work for free; which means people from more fortunate families benefit. If the PR sector claims to be accessible then clearly it’s not as it is failing to support its future workforce by denying them the experience they need.
The PRCA’s survey into internships in PR and public affairs concluded that 62% aren’t paid or are paid only for expenses, that’s a huge number which means well over half of the interns aren’t paid for the work they do.
‘CIPR recommends that all members pay interns and those on work placements at least The Living Wage.’ (CIPR, 2014)
‘Interns are workers who must be paid accordingly; it is unacceptable not to do so.’ (PRCA, 2017)
If the PR world wants to be more accessible, it has to start paying its interns. The PR industry must not forget that students and young people trying to break into the industry are the future workforces behind it.