Beauty Bitch: The Intern Conspiracy

BATD ON Nov 26, 2009 AT 10:30 am

Being an Assistant at Vogue may not be as glamorous as it seems

Being an Assistant at Vogue may not be as glamorous as it seems

A quick flick through the jobs section in the UK beauty world’s bible, Diary Directory, shows that, shockingly, out of the fifteen jobs advertised, eight of them are internships. As we all know, the word intern has taken on a modern day meaning that boils down to unpaid. There’s already been enough of a hoo-ha in the blogosphere about fashion interns not being paid, but it seems that the beauty industry is trying to follow fashions famously mean example. 
 
Many companies kindly offer out work experience to fulfil a school or college curriculum requirement; lots of young people are expected to find a short stint of meaningful employment as part of their journey into adult life. The companies offering these placements are thoroughly checked by the schools and colleges first and these interns can expect in some cases a visit from their teacher to ensure all is going well, and to file an in-depth assignment report detailing their daily duties as part of their work experience week. This is a far, far different animal to the current slew of advertisements from on-and-off line magazines and PR companies offering unpaid internships to graduates or those who are finding it hard to get into their chosen career.

Want a career in beauty?

Want a career in beauty?

 
Being lucky enough to bag an internship at a PR company that represents beauty companies is not at all the same thing as being offered an intern placement with, say Vogue. At least with a mainstream magazine, your prospects of making contacts within the magazine world are real, even if you do have to slog your heart out answering phones, buying the office coffee and generally doing the dogsbody jobs that nobody else wants to do. There is little to no chance that you’ll ever meet that key beauty editor who’ll instantly spot your talents if you end up in unpaid labour at a PR company. Like they’re going to let you near one!
 
Interns can expect to do as much work as they ever would in a paid job, minus the money on a vague promise of learning the industry. If a beauty PR company, magazine or on-line site needs a clerical assistant, general help or a receptionist, then they should just bloody well pay for one like everyone else. The fact that the industry is viewed as glamorous is likely to pull in any number of hapless young women desperate to work within such hallowed halls, leaving mummy and daddy to pick up the bill for supporting the employee. At the same time, internships automatically exclude those who simply can’t afford to take them up, however dedicated; talented and committed they might be, leading to an overspill of middle-class interns with Anna Wintour aspirations.

The beauty industry as a whole hasn’t suffered as much in the economic downturn as other industries, so there is just no excuse for not giving much needed paid jobs to those who deserve them. Somebody just isn’t doing their maths right. In order to have a new employee to pick up all the jobs that you are too busy to do, maybe you have to forgo that pay-rise, that profit margin or even that company car. But no, in this have-it-all world, nobody gives up anything, but expects everything.
 
Interns, just don’t do it.

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