‘My mentor would text me all night’


Robyn Smith told Exploited Interns about her intern experiences in journalism...

When you are working as intern, you expect to be the tea maker, the photocopier, and the awkward malingerer. But I don’t think you should be expected to work late, especially when you aren’t even paid travel expenses. When I worked at a national newspaper, I often worked until 10.30 in the evening on Friday and when everyone else around me was eating his or her dinner from the canteen, I sat there sipping my tap water. I didn’t have the permission to use the canteen, and didn’t have time to pop out to get my own either. I was one of the last people in the office and even when I asked at 9 whether there was anything else that needed doing, I was met with the reply of, “Oh, so you want to leave do you?”

As a young, female intern, you sometimes get lechy older men trying to take advantage. At one company, my mentor would text me all night, saying inappropriate things while trying to get me to go out drinking with him. I was there for three weeks and every Friday and Saturday I would know to expect the messages. I was put in an awkward position because although you don’t want to encourage the behaviour, you were well aware that by offending him, the workdays would become incredibly uncomfortable. Furthermore, other people in the office started to notice, which demeaned my professionalism.

As a whole, my internships have been beneficial and interesting, but there are certain scenarios in which as an unpaid intern, who is desperate to please, your willingness is often exploited.

(Robyn is not using her real name)

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