Agencies have reacted with shock and disappointment that almost half of interns in the media, marketing, PR and advertising industries feel they’ve been exploited.
The same B&T report also revealed 43% of interns said their unpaid internships were more valuable to the employer, while many survey participants spoke about being handed jobs that failed to develop their skills.
Kieran Moore (pictured), CEO of Ogilvy PR Australia, and Katie Rigg-Smith, Mindshare CEO, have both called the findings of the B&T research “a disgrace”.
"It’s a disgrace, an internship should not just be another word for ‘free labour', it will bring down the name of the industry,” Moore told B&T.
"If you’re going to go to trouble of getting interns in, then it really has to be a win-win for both parties, you can’t have just one benefitting,” she added.
Moore pointed to Ogilvy PR’s internship program, which last year hired a total of 48 interns, (including two international students), of which, 11 have moved into full time roles across the wider Ogilvy PR group.
Rigg-Smith believes both interns and agencies need to manage expectations so that both parties feel they are getting something out of the internship.
“I remember being an intern when I first started out … you wanted to be inspired, you wanted to get a taste for what the industry was at its best, so that you can make decisions about where you want to go,” she said.
“The benefit to employers is that you do get some really bright talented people entering the industry, so we all have a responbilty so that the interns experience is valuable.”
Rigg-Smith added that a practical solution to problems highlighted in report would be for agencies to provide the intern with a specific job spec prior to them starting, so they're under no illusions about what the internship will entail.
“When joining, if they’re sat down and it's explained to them so they understand what they can expect from the internship program, I think that could be beneficial.
“So, if they have the job spec in writing, there’s a mutual agreement on what it will be. What that does is force the hand of employer to make sure they also have something in place so that they don’t have interns turning up and suddenly managers have no idea what they're going to do with these kids for a few weeks."