A foot in the door. 12 April 2011

Nick Clegg was right to criticise unfair work experience recruitment, but internships themselves have a lot going for them.


Nick Clegg found himself in a spot of hot water last week when he criticised unfair internships which favour people with family connections, only for it to be revealed that his own family ties had opened doors for him at the start of his career.

He was right to criticise the unfairness, but there's a lot to be said for internships when they're handled properly.

Take Lyndsey, for example. She has been interning here at The Corner Shop since February.

Like several interns we have had over the years, she is studying at Goldsmiths on the MA course in Arts Administration and Cultural Policy.

Once a year I run a marketing day for students on the course and every year I ask the college to find me the very best student they have to offer, as internships are a requirement of the course.

First we had terrifyingly efficient and oh so lovely Essex girl Georgette. We offered her a job the minute her internship expired.

MJ followed. In her spare time MJ translated Disney stage productions into Korean and produced major cultural events.

Then there was Jill, who worked for us for four years and is now very important at Colman Getty PR.

Others followed: Jo, who is now in her last year at Central; Catrin, now at National Theatre Wales; gorgeous Polly, now studying to be a movement director; Charlotte, who got a job with Sue Hyman PR after about 5 minutes with The Corner Shop; Tom, whose internship was cut short last year but who will return to us this summer after graduating; and Kate (another Goldsmiths find), our current Administrator & PA (and comedy impro pro).

You can see  what they say about their experiences on our website. The reviews, in this case anyway, don’t lie.

And this week, Lyndsey got a job. She will start with colleagues EMG before we’re quite ready to lose her!

The laws may be about to change and internships may become a thing of the past, but when you can’t get a job without experience and you can’t get experience without a job, I can think of no better leg up on the (albeit) bottom rung of the industry ladder than proving what you’re capable of in a professional environment, and making yourself indispensible.

I began my career this way and believe it is a process that teaches you about jobs far more effectively than any other training.

So thank you Nicky Webb Associates for my leg up. If it weren’t for you, I’d probably be a successful novelist by now.

Clair Chamberlain, Director, The Corner Shop PR

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