Whilst interning you are essentially self-employed. You liaise with agencies to arrange time with them in which you will be either on placement or freelance, depending on your experience. You arrange how much you will be paid and what will be expected of you: your working hours, lunches, potential for future employment.
It is important that every one knows where they stand.
Everybody needs to know where their next meal is coming from and so it is essential that things are booked a little bit in advance. This varies between people. For me, I like to be a placement ahead. I go to a placement knowing where I will be in the next one. After a while this becomes a luxury, but it is the ideal, espescially when they are short.
For agencies, it is wise to book a few months ahead, students can be fickle and unreliable, dropping opportunities for better ones. I am certain they all have a pool of graduates where they go to in emergencies.
For one agency I was certain I become the "fall-back".
I was only ever given vague timings of placement opportunities, confirmation would never materialise and I would book something else. Opportunities were missed repeatedly. With their funny mid-month timings and insistance on a four-week stint I assumed they had found someone better each time. I felt like I was their back up- so they were mine.
Simply, I felt disrespected. I wasn't treated like a colleague. I was treated like a student desperate to work with them. Unfortunately for them, I am not foolish enough to think they'd offer me a job and i was not willing to let other people down last minute for them. The brutal truth is graduate placements are not important and often overlooked and so is their communication. Not being a priority doesn't mean you shouldn't demand respect.
I never got to go on this placement because of poor communication and bad management and through no fault of my own. In the final confirmation of cancellation from them, they blamed me for misreading emails when it was clearly too little communication, too late. I have learnt from this experience the importance of following up emails with phone calls. After all, talking to someone over the phone is more likely to get you a clear answer, without waiting days in between messages and forgetting to respond.
I wanted to tell them that they had disrespected me and that I would never consider working for them again. Despite their design work's reputation, their liaising with potential colleagues is abysmal. I felt like I was just another graduate, which is exactly how I shouldn't feel. Instead of telling them this ofcourse, I bit my lip and thanked them for the opportunity.