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April 21, 2008

Your experiences of work experience

By Dave Lee STD

It’s widely accepted that as inexperienced journalists we need to put up with the less glamorous of tasks until we get ‘real’ (sorry!) jobs. But at what point does it become exploitation? When does work experience just become work?

The National Union of Journalists has recently compiled a survey of newly qualified journalists who have undertaken placements in the industry.

The results are very worrying. It seems some media companies are, for want of a better phrase, taking the mick.

The NUJ have threatened to ‘out’ the certain media companies that were singled out in the survey.

What are your thoughts?

My longest stint has been two weeks. Although, at a push, I would probably be able to work a month unpaid. But some places are offering internships of six months or more. I can’t think of another industry which requires prospective employees to work for free for so long.

Should we be paid? If we insist on payment for placements from now on, do we risk making media companies ditch placement schemes altogether?

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