Hollywood To Be More Ethical Than #Globaldev On Interns

Anyone who knows me or who has read this blog regularly will know my stance on unpaid internships. It seems some recent lawsuits in the USA might mean that employees are coming over to my side of thinking – it isn’t really excusable.

I started this blog when I was an intern (unpaid), as the URL implies, and became increasingly annoyed by the setup as time went by. I have done more than two years of interning/full-time volunteering. I appreciate you need to pay your dues and put in your time but it feels like minimum wage laws are put in place for a reason: I have only been able to rack up that unpaid experience because I come from a middle class family in London. Privilege, as well as a determination to get experience, dictates that I am now probably better placed than many of my peers to move into the job market having finished our undergraduate degrees. Clearly, that isn’t right.

So well done to those people involved in taking Fox to court over the internships offered on the movie Black Swan. Here’s a summary of what happened (via @Hanna_Schwing):

Just a month after one judge dismissed the class-action suit filed by free New York City media interns at Hearst Magazines, another has now granted the Hollywood coffee-fetchers who worked on Black Swan a precedent-setting win, ruling that the two production interns “worked as paid employees” and that Fox Searchlight should have to pay them as such. It’s a pivotal decision, says the attorney for the two young men who worked on the Oscar-winning film: “This is the first time a judge has held that interns as we know them today are employees entitled to wages and protections,” the lawyer, Juno Turner, told The Atlantic Wire in a phone interview Wednesday.

Indeed, it’s the first time a major U.S. court has ruled that zero dollars for legitimate work does not a legal unpaid internship make. “Considering the totality of the circumstances,” reads the ruling from federal judge William Pauley, the plaintiffs, Eric Glatt and Alexander Footman, “were classified improperly as unpaid interns and are ’employees’ covered by” the the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as well as New York’s labor laws. The judge added: “They worked as paid employees work, providing an immediate advantage to their employer and performing low-level tasks not requiring specialized training.”

Read the whole article here

I realise Hollywood has a higher profile and it looks better for any lawyers involved but am I the only one who’s a bit disappointed that the global development industry didn’t take the lead on this issue? For a sector that fights inequality and strives for fair and ethical treatment of all people, it’s a bit embarrassing that the impetus to, you know, pay their interns has to come from the outside.

From Poverty To Power – in Bath

From Poverty To Power – in Bath

Via Flickr

Duncan Green – Oxfam strategic advisor and writer of the much read/linked/argued about FP2P blog – is coming to the University of Bath (where I study) very soon.

Date: Monday 4th of March.

Time: 18.15-20.05

Place: Lecture Theatre 5 West 2.3 (University of Bath campus)

Cost: Free!

I cannot make it as I will be in a meeting and then on air but I implore all the development types in the area to make it down there. Not only is FP2P an excellent discussion hub online but several Bath academics have contributed to the arguments on there – particularly those focused on the ‘evidence agenda‘ in aid and development.You never know, you might get to watch an  argument.

Also, there’s a wine reception afterwards. Everyone knows that wine + networking = a hilarious series of misadventures you can tell people about later. So go!

NB: The link to the event is in the title

Guest Post: How can international development promote entrepreneurial skills in the developing world?

Because I am getting to the end of my degree I’m looking at job sites more often to try and figure out how I’m going to get a start in the big bad world of employment.

Luckily Marie Cullen emailed me this post which has given me some ideas on what I should be thinking about offering. The focus on management as a useful skillset for ID is something I’ve been thinking about for a while so I’m glad to see someone else mention it. Hopefully this will help some of you guys as well.

flipchart fun

More people should experience the flipchart fun of management training

There are many ways that international development may promote entrepreneurial skills in global developing countries. Strengthening management skills through training resources and capacity building are highly important to motivating positive change.

Essential internal adjustments must be instituted in order to foster the social progress necessary toward sustainability. Initiatives need to be created to improve education, employment and civic engagement that will lead to entrepreneurial opportunities for citizens of developing countries. Activities might include:

  1. Management training programs that focus upon strategies for creating higher levels of employment by improving small businesses in developing economies and countries in transition.
  2. Promoting the awareness of new opportunities, while addressing the challenges associated with self-employment and small business entrepreneurship.
  3. Creating practical tools and programs dealing with the long term positive effects of an entrepreneurial culture. For example, courses of study that address how youth can shape their future to contribute to their country’s social and economic development.
  4. Initiating and supporting organizations that directly provide training and tools for the betterment of challenged global economies.
  5. Inspiring growth through education using private along with governmental resources to offer scholarships for sustainable, practical training programs aimed at micro and small business development.
  6. Reaching higher productivity through motivational business competitiveness, while still respecting rules of law and worker rights.
  7. Sustaining an enterprise culture through private and cooperative entities that strive for increased livelihoods for employers and workers alike.

Integration and Collaboration

Integrated programs support the establishment of small to medium scale and sustainable businesses. Collaborative efforts ensure that specific growth objectives are met, while organizations offer various types of economic and educational services assistance.

All of these efforts should be designed toward the long term overall goal of creating more business and employment opportunities in each region and at every level.

Case Study 

Micro finance has proven to be one of the most effective ways to advance out of the devastation of poverty. For example, through global organizations such as The Greater Contribution, small donations are made to the poor in countries such as Africa to start small, sustainable businesses designed to support families, as well as communities.

Micro loans may be as little as £40 and are granted to individuals (usually women) so that they may establish or expand small, self-sustaining businesses. For example, a small amount of money may be used to buy chickens for the sale of eggs. When the chickens multiply, there are more chicks and eggs to sell.

Because the micro loans are repaid on a 90 to 120 day schedule, responsibility is transferred to business owners. Since loans are repaid at rates of 97 to 98%, it is possible to continually loan the proceeds, multiplying the opportunities. As a result, the number of people who transition from poverty to lives of contribution for themselves, their families and their communities continues to grow.

Micro loans can make the difference between earnings of £24 each month to earning over £144 per month, equal to a 500 per cent income increase. The extraordinary benefits of programs such as these are a testament to how small amounts of money can lead to grassroots personal and community financial empowerment.

Discussion between private citizens, enterprises and governments can provide a powerful shared vision and framework. When implemented, this foundation can lead to the global creation of entrepreneurial skills and optimal survival in developing countries.

Marie is a avid careers development adviser at recruitmentrevolution.com and a keen supporter of international development through entrepreneurial skills 



I’ve been out of blogging for a couple of months now while I moved back to University from Kenya. A combination of fatigue, new distractions and illness have kept me busy enough to focus on other things for a while. I have not lost interest in the subject – those of you who also follow me on Twitter will know that my online reading/sharing remains pretty do-gooder.

I’ve been made Editor of my University student paper which now cannibalises most of my constructive spare time. I’ll be writing from there mostly – we’re based on Tumblr.

I am now starting my dissertation which will see me reading and researching a lot in an attempt to better understand a topic: to me, these are the parameters for succesful blogging. My topic, thus far, is fairly vague: perceptions of capital punishment.

My first tentative foray into the world of do-goodery was with an NGO which focused on prisons in Uganda. We had fairly regular interactions with death row inmates and I was amazed to find them more or less normal. It surprised me. I suppose I was expecting people more radical, I don’t really know why. Perhaps it’s because death row inmates tend to either be evil men or wrongfully accused innocents when they’re portrayed in drama. Perhaps it was my own laziness as I hadn’t particularly thought about this group of people before. Nevertheless, it was one of the experiences that got me hooked on the world of development. 

As I became slightly more educated on issues like social justice and theoretical approaches to crime and punishment it became clear to me that capital punishment shouldn’t be endorsed rationally by anyone. Leave aside the moral or ethical concerns for a second. It’s amazingly expensive and it doesn’t have any significant effect on crime. Which leads me to my central question:

Why does capital punishment continue to have so many proponents?

Huge numbers of people all over the world are pro death penalty – countries with different levels of economic development, different religions, different cultures and values ALL seem to come together when capital punishment arises. Why?

I’ll be (hopefully) posting more regularly from now on as I go about figuring out this question. In the meantime, if you are interested may I direct you towards Orwell’s brilliant essay A Hanging.


The Return – Going back to school

Click on the link for a thorough explanation of Archaeologists’ beards. Source: My Cartoon Version of Reality

Words like ‘university’, ‘tutor’ and ‘final year’ have started to become unearthed again in my life, as though one of the soft voiced, shockingly bearded denizens of Archaeology departments the world over has been assigned to my brain.

Carefully, his dusty toothbrush traces the outlines of forgotten notions, creatures buried deep in the morass of full time work: commuting, assignments, inductions, cake, meetings, trainings, email after email after email. I’d let myself think I’d buried them forever.

One more brush and, there, a face. Two, three, four-  more than I expected. Their little eyes open and they say things to me,

“Remember, in the before times, the long long ago, back when you wrote things for educational attainment rather than to appease your overly networked ego?

“Yes, I think so,” I reply, looking up from my Hootsuite app on my phone.

“Those days are returning.” I stare at them. They continue to emerge,

“Remember when you didn’t have a lunch allowance? You lived off carrots and pasta for weeks.”

“8.30 lectures.”

“And 9.30 lectures.”

“Seminars on Friday afternoons.”

“Seminars on Monday mornings-”

“Yes, I think we’ve covered the horrors of higher education. It… It doesn’t sound that bad.”

A mistake. A particularly gnarled, rotten little creature grabs me and, with fetid breath, spumes a horror (the horror) right into my face,

“Remember how often you were corralled into going to ‘Revs‘? You’re going to go back.”

“But it’s awful! The music is terrible, it’s too loud to talk and the drinks are way too expensive.”

“It doesn’t matter if no one actually likes it in there – you go because that’s what STUDENTS do. There’s an inexplicable attraction.”

“No! I’m working, I have a job. I’m a worker.”

“Don’t pretend to us – we know what you are. And you’re coming back.”

“When?” I splutter, images of coffee and dead-eyed deadline day revisions seething there way into my attention. I had almost forgotten.

“All too soon.”

“But… It can’t be, I’ve still got a few months on my contract-” they cut me off, shaking their heads,

“You’ve already completed the assignment. 30 weeks have come and passed, long ago.”

It’s all a bit overwhelming.

Yes, dear readers, the shuddering revelation of a return to University life has happened. I got an email the other day from academic staff asking me to start thinking about my dissertation. Helpfully, they included several attachments with various outlines on preparing and researching a massive great big essay. Just writing about it is making my vision go blurry.

Now, I know that lots of development people recommend taking time off higher education to work in between getting your promotion baiting degrees. I’ve written about it before, see the previous link. I also know that there is a serious divide between academia and field practitioners when it comes to international development. So I have a few questions:

How do people adjust their brains sufficiently to jump back and forth over that divide? How do people go from daily work to semi-structured bursts of activity? What is a good way to feel like you’re still vaguely connected to ‘real world’ development while you research a suitably specific dissertation?

Most importantly, how do people do all these things without having strange fantasies about mind creatures tormenting them?

Guest Post: Writing CVs For Third Sector Jobs

Olivia Kane is freelance copywriter and charity enthusiast. She is currently working with ThirdSector Jobs, a leading voluntary sector job listing site.

A lot of people get very upset about having to read bad CVs so it’s probably a good idea to take a look back over yours and check you don’t commit any of the cardinal sins listed in this post.

Every CV is the key to a door. Question is, is it going to fit?

When we were at school we were taught to write CVs, and I suppose we should be grateful though no-one ever taught me to write a CV directed properly for the kind of work I wanted to get into. And actually now I think about it, as a professional writer I’ve done some editing of CVs either for clients or friends and the same mistakes crop up every time. Which are, basically, that people never stop writing the CV their form teacher taught them when they were 15.

So what are the basic errors on a third sector jobs CV?

Primarily, it’s putting in irrelevant information that causes problems. Or writing a CV that’s far too long.

Most people seem to have carried the illusion over from secondary school, that the CV has to perform a kind of ‘on paper interview’ for you. In other words that it should be anticipating and answering questions, sometimes in great depth.

Nothing could be further from the truth. A CV is effectively a list of bullet points, from which your interviewer extrapolates his or her questions. No explanation is necessary beyond a list of the basic facts.

Another thing that seems to creep into most CVs you see for third sector jobs is the idea that a prospective not for profit employer wants to know what you like doing in your spare time. I have no idea where this myth springs from beyond the fact that my teacher told me to put in a ‘personal interests’ section on my CV, and so did my brother’s teacher, and so did my wife’s…

In actual fact, I have barely ever put personal interests down on successful CVs of mine. The only exception being when I have applied for work that directly has a link to things I do in my spare time.

Oh – and references are pointless too. Just indicate that you can get them if you need to. The words “references available on request” save a heck of a lot of space for more important information, plus they show that you are willing and able to prove your worth in this way when the time comes.

Space is a big issue for any CV. Your CV ideally should be two sides of a sheet of A4 and no more. So you need to comb it for all extraneous information, edit it savagely and only ever go over onto a third side of A4 if you absolutely have no choice. And that means you have already tried knocking down the font size and line spacing to the point where your sizing is impractical for a reader.

All CVs should look businesslike, whether they are for third sector jobs or any other form of employment. Pink paper is out, as is perfumed paper or stickers or drawings (unless you are applying for a job as a graphic designer or artist and even here I would be chary of such frivolity). Anything designed to make you ‘stand out’ invariably goes in the bin.

Guest Post: Tips For Preparing For An Internship

Brittany Miner is a writer for Interns.org which I didn’t know existed when I started interning but wish I had. I particularly like the final paragraph – good knowledge. See this related discussion on AidSource for more.

Working as an intern is often a great way to get your foot in the door of the industry you’re passionate about. Not only can you make connections, you can get a feel for how your industry works and gain valuable knowledge than can last a lifetime. In order to optimize your time as an intern, it’s important to adequately prepare yourself, which can usually be done by following several tips.

Perhaps the most important thing to do is learn about your industry as much as possible. For example, if you will be interning for a non-profit or charity, you should conduct some preliminary research into its history, practices and ethical guidelines. You should also check out what some of the current trends are and who the leaders are within your industry. Doing so should make the transition process easier and you will have the necessary background to be successful.

Another way to prepare is to build up your online presence. Due to the power and wide usage of social media websites, it’s helpful to establish yourself on websites like LinkedIn and Facebook. This includes filling out a complete profile and avoiding any content that could give you a bad image. For example, putting partying pictures on your Facebook account could give your superiors a negative image of you. Instead, you should make your social media accounts as professional as possible and demonstrate that you’re knowledgeable of your industry.

If possible, you should also try to network with relevant people beforehand and try to establish relationships. This can be done online through social media or by interacting with superiors with whom you will be interning under during your stint. It doesn’t have to be anything major, but simply getting some type of correspondence before you begin is ideal. Doing so should make it easy when you’re starting out and can give you a leading edge if there are other interns.

Along with this, it’s important to know what type of clothing you will be expected to wear during your internship. For example, some companies may by casual and only require a button up shirt and khakis. Others may have more strict clothing etiquette and require formal wear like a suit and tie. Since first impressions are crucial, being properly dressed should help you fit in and build rapport with others. In addition, you should have some specific goals in mind before you begin your internship.

To get the most out of your time, you should make it a point to learn and get the experience it takes to make it at the next level. For example, you may want to learn the financial aspects of your industry or become highly knowledgeable in a particular area. Once you start your position, you should strive to reach all these goals and monitor your progress.