Interning and money are not mutually exclusive. Contrary to popular belief, many internships are paid (albeit not much, but paid nonetheless). But life without some payment is hard. London travel isn't cheap and living in London can be a huge expense if you're not cheeky enough to be claiming housing benefit alongside your placements.
As a graduate, you are a skilled worker, you have learnt (although, not mastered) a trade and you expect to be paid atleast minimum wage. If I knew I was going to spend a year on £150 a week, with weeks of unemployment in between placements, spending my days counting pennies, I'd have probably gone to work in retail after school and not bothered with university at all. Where is the motivation to rack up a huge debt, with little gain?
A friend once said to me all I cared about was money, but this isn't true. I intern becaue I have a passion for design but money issues keep me awake at night. I'm not looking for sympathy, I know that there are many other people in my position, but this is why it is of importance. Money will be the reason that I could fail and I don't want that to happen. Money has already dictated too many events in my life; I want to control this.
I have noticed that people that succeed in the design industry are likely to be those that can intern for free for the longest. My need for money can almost be mistaken as a lack of enthusiasm. I can only stay at an unpaid placement for one week. Someone who is getting financial help will be able to stay longer, and this is mistaken as being more enthusiastic and impresses creative directors and company managers. For me, money overides my passion. I could want to stay somewhere in the hope that a job will become available in the next few months, but it is a financial risk I am not able to take.
Money is an issue that will keep me on my toes for my whole life, but I did do a degree in graphic design in order to, one day, be able to keep my head above water. I want a town house in Richmond, with a big garden, I want holidays abroad, I want things for my children I never had when I was growing up. I am patient, however, and trust that I am doing the right things in order to build my (financially stable) future. It just takes time, and ofcourse, money.