The Creative Society is an arts employment charity that helps young people into jobs in the creative and cultural industries.
It seems the plight of unpaid interns has hit a new low in the US. Graduates are not only working for free, but they’re actually paying thousands of dollars for the privilege.
The demand for internships has increased dramatically over the last ten years in both the UK and the US. But as the recession has really begun to bite, that demand has become ever more acute. In response, graduates in the US are now paying intermediary companies up to $8000 to place them in meaningful internships.
Such “middle-men” companiesare supposedly able to secure hard-to-get internships for their clients because they have developed closeworking relationships with a variety of employers. It is this network of contacts, they say, that is as crucial as hard work in career development.
One such company- the University of Dreams- last year helped 9,000 young people get into work.Their program offersa guaranteed internship placement, eight weeks of summer housing, five meals a week, seminars and tours around New York City. All for the princely sum of $7,999.
It’s a worrying development. While it is unlikely that such extreme measures will become commonplace in the UK, such practises do highlight the impermeability of many industries- particularly the creative industries- to those young people whose parents cannot afford to subsidise them while they work for free.
It is crucial for both economic recovery and social mobility that every industry is open to every individual.
New Deal of the Mind continues to call for internships that young people need not pay for, but are instead paid for.