Internship rant!

Friday, 7 August 2015

Okay, so I am obsessed with watching and reading the 'My Bad Experience' vlogs and blogs but never did I think I'd be writing one or sharing my experiences interning in a negative way. 
As a fashion student it is vital that I intern as it looks amazing on your CV and is an even better opportunity. You learn new things within the industry you wouldn't necessarily learn at uni or college, meet creative people like yourself and its super fun. 
Early June I was browsing through internships and came across a production roll in a company I really liked, lets call it Shmouse of Shmam for now. I sent my creative CV and online portfolio to this certain company and kept my fingers crossed until I received an email back from them asking for my availability and a date in which I would like to start. This is the important part... At the bottom of the email the director clearly stated "We cover travel expenses and then our interns get a voucher gift to spend in our store on completion of their internship with us". I did not expect this at all as most internships don't cover travel, so this was the selling factor for me! I instantly replied with the dates I was available and was invited to a trial day a week before I was ready to start interning with them.

From where I live London Euston is only about an hour away, however the cost of my train ticket and tube ticket was £41.45 with a travel card which to me was way too expensive, however as I was getting my travel expenses covered I didn't bat an eyelid. The day of my trial I was asked to turn up at 10am, I google mapped the situation and from Euston, which is an hour from home on the train, it was another hour to Hackney, so in total around 4 hours of travelling a day, how long? So long! 

I turned up at 10am and originally was told I would be meeting the production manager as that was the roll I had applied for in the company. I walked through the door and was immediately asked to take a seat. I sat for a while and the director turned up, introduced himself and then told me that the production manager wasn't in that day, even though this was organised. I was pushed onto another boy who was also an intern but had only been there for a week. He was lovely but as he was new was just sort of blagging jobs to show me. However, I did enjoy my trial day as fashion is something I am very passionate about. At the end of the day the other director approached me and said she would email me by the end of the week with what days she wanted me to work. 
I was going on holiday two days after my trial day so kept checking my emails every time I was in the hotel, nothing. I ended up emailing the company myself to which they then replied "If you can do Monday, Thursday and Friday that would be great."
I started working the Monday after I got back which was Monday 22nd July, finally met the production manager and got on with the work I was being given and was enjoying learning new and different things. I also found it so rewarding when I would see something I had been working on go online.

This is where it goes downhill...
I had been happily working away and learning something new everyday, until I went in on Monday 13th June, went to walk through the door and it was locked. I started knocking and no answer. I was being optimistic and thought that maybe they were just late, so waited until 10.30, still nothing, 11am came and no one turned up. I didn't want to just leave as I had already travelled for over 2 hour and spent £41.45 on a train ticket. I called my dad at work and he just told me to come home as it was clear no one was coming and they had obviously just forgotten to tell me they weren't in that day. On my way home I was not a happy bunny so sent the director a quick email just explaining what had happened and that I had turned up and waited in the rain etc. No reply. I then went in the following Thursday, the director didn't turn up but fortunately the team I worked with were there. 
In the mean time with this happening I had been wanting to ask the director when I would be getting my travel paid, an awkward conversation to bring up but I was struggling to afford even getting there, let alone getting home!

Shifts passed and still the director didn't turn up. So, I sent him an email about the situation, no reply. More days passed and still no sign of him. I then realised I had legit £0 so I ended up speaking to the production manager who text the director. He then emailed me back immediately, typical. This is where the shock horror moment happens. The email read: "We do help interns with their travel expenses but this is capped at £10 a day." TEN POUNDS. TEN. It was costing me £41.45 A DAY to get there. I worked out that if he paid me £10 a day it would only cover two weeks of my travel expenses... screwing. I literally couldn't afford to go back. I replied to this explaining the situation and said that it would only be possible for me to finish the friday after as I couldn't afford to get there, did he reply? Nope. So, at this point I was furious that they couldn't even be bothered to turn up or reply to my emails and then changed their mind as to what they were going to pay me after spending nearly £500 on train tickets!

I left on Friday with the understanding that I had another week left, however none of this was confirmed with me. The production manager had broken her arm during all this and had been left to run the office. She had told me she had a check up at the doctors on Monday about her arm and the directors agreed to give her the day off. At the time I didn't really think about it but when I got home I didn't know whether they would still want me in or whether they were even going to bother to turn up. I emailed the director and asked whether they wanted me in. No reply. I then emailed the customer service address to which I received this email the next day.... 
"We won't need you in this week, thanks for your effort, we will send you a code to purchase some bits online." 

Not only did I not get to go in on my last day and to say goodbye and thank you to anyone I had been working with all I got was this blunt email. This might not seem annoying to some people but when I had been travelling over 4 hours a day, spending all that money to get there and working so hard for 8 hours a day I think its a bit off. 

I haven't been there for two weeks now and have I been paid? Nope. Have I received vouchers? Nope.

Don't get me wrong, interning is one of the best things you can do as a fashion student and it generally really fun and useful but just be careful and know exactly what you're letting yourself in for before getting mugged off!
Am I being over dramatic or is this totally not fair? Let me know if you have ever had anything like this happen and how/if you resolved the situation!