How we can help

New standards for work experience opportunities

We’ve been looking at how we can help increase diversity within publishing and be fairer to those who are looking for entry level opportunities.
We also believe that the publishing industry needs to change in how it treats those looking for entry level jobs.

With effect from the 1st March 2013, all work experience and internships advertised on bookcareers.com must fall into one of the following criteria:

1. Two week experiences or shorter. Work experience or internship opportunities should last no more than 2 weeks without being paid the minimum wage. Anything longer than two weeks must be paid the minimum wage. All unpaid opportunities should cover the full cost of travel (a minimum of £50 per week up to a zone 1-6 weekly London travelcard, currently £55.60) and ideally include a provision for lunch, either purchased by the employer or a recommended lunch allowance of a minimum of £3.00 per day.
2. Opportunities longer than two weeks. All opportunities over 2 weeks must pay the minimum wage. It is optional whether you wish to contribute an additional travel and lunch allowance.

It is essential that a candidate on work experience or an internship must be allowed to take time off for a job interview; restricting a candidate’s opportunity for gainful employment is not acceptable.

Any employer advertising a two week experience and then encouraging the participant to stay longer than two weeks will be expected to pay the minimum wage and the candidate will be made aware of this. If we find out that an employer is abusing the generosity of internees we will remove all work experience vacancies.

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9 Responses to New standards for work experience opportunities

  1. laurafjones 28/02/2013 at 21:00 #

    A fantastic step in the right direction. As a current postgrad Publishing student myself, with one unpaid internship under my belt and many more to obtain, this is a clear message towards those who take advantage of people so in need of experience. I look forward to a day when unfair unpaid labour is illegal and a minimum wage is offered to all internships. Very well done!

  2. Claire Squires 28/02/2013 at 21:12 #

    This is a really welcome development – thank you on behalf of current publishing students and graduates at Stirling. The guidelines are clear and should be workable by publishers large and small. It’s very helpful for new entrants to the industry to have something like this that they can refer to, and know that requests for expenses and, after two weeks, minimum wage pay, are not unreasonable.

  3. Blake Brooks 28/02/2013 at 22:03 #

    Really great to see that us newbies are being looked after and particularly appreciate the guidelines over expenses as these can really make a huge difference. Thanks!

  4. Nicola Marr 28/02/2013 at 23:23 #

    Great move, one that will be received well I hope. Not only will this be advantageous to students, but Publishers also stand to gain from this as at present many enthusiastic, talented students simply cannot afford to apply for unpaid internships. Nurturing these skills early on will benefit the publishing industry as a whole.

  5. Doris Ruth Eikhof 01/03/2013 at 09:55 #

    Very pleased to see this initiative. Unpaid internships are a huge obstacle to talent entry into the cultural industries and this is most certainly a good step towards addressing the problem. I can only hope other industries follow suit!

  6. Greg Sweetnam 01/03/2013 at 10:17 #

    Excellent initiative

  7. samartha 01/03/2013 at 11:48 #

    If general agreement can be reached on these very reasonable terms, everyone will benefit. Student interns often bring skilled labour to temporary posts, often when they are paying out of their own pockets to get those skills via a Publishing course! It’s still a bargain for publishers, if organised strategically. Full support from UCL, Suzanne!

  8. Luca Baffa 01/03/2013 at 12:50 #

    A happy trainee is a better trainee. I think that this initiative could lead to a mutual advantage for both the employer and the trainee.

  9. Sara O'Connor 07/06/2013 at 10:53 #

    I found this from a tweet today by @jreadsalot.

    I manage the intern program at Hot Key Books and work very hard to provide an exceptional intern experience for those who come to us. (Lots of them have blogged about in on our blog or their own.)

    It is a max 2 weeks (or we pay a salary) and we have been paying £35 a week for travel. After reading this, we are going to increase our stipend to £50 a week.

    But more so than the small amount of money that seems to be so contentious, your standards for work experience should take a hard line on the content of the time spent.

    There should be:

    – a description of duties which is adhered to
    – the opportunity to talk one to one with a senior member of staff at the beginning and end of the experience, and to ask for experience on a specific task
    – attendance at the company meetings (our interns attend editorial and publishing acquisitions meetings)
    – the opportunity to ask questions about what they are seeing and get good explanations
    – the right to ask for a written recommendation

    Interns should not be stuck in an out of the way place with a stack of submissions to reject, and kept out of the business processes and away from other staff. Without actually experiencing the business, it’s not worthwhile experience.

    It is about the publisher taking the time to care about the young people coming through. How the time is spent, to me, is much more important than what is spent on the time.

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