One of my friends and fellow graduates has just been offered a full-time job. Our celebrations were much of an anti-climax, because she'd been working there for the best part of the year already. Seven or so months on a placement pennies, and she had had enough and demanded a proper wage. In a company, which has clearly seen better days, she is heavily relied upon and has a lot of responsibility. When offered the job her sense of relief was tarnished by the further heavy work load thrust upon her, and the tighter deadlines. With early starts and late nights; she needs a helping hand and was asking me if I knew anyone looking for a placement.
Seeing I was baffled, she began to explain that she could see the benefits of "cheap labour" from the other side. She needs an intern to image search for her all day, so she can get on with the real stuff. I was devastated; the cycle continues - and it all makes perfect sense. Small design agencies don't get paid a great deal, and where staff are heavily relied upon, such that she is, £100 a week is a small price to pay for the weight of work loaded off her.
Interns seek experience and guidance, and small agencies, like my friend's, just want cheap labour to make their lives easier. Whilst it is completely understandable and almost forgiveable, I am devastated that a year as an intern with bottled up resentment and false hope, she has come out of the fire to send someone back in. If you are going to learn anything on an internship, it is not going to come from image searching and making tea. These are two major signs of a dire internship. One where you will be led on with false promises and you should get out of there. If you don't learn anything, it isn't worth the bother, and they certainly don't deserve your efforts for the money they pay you; find an agency that does.