This is a post I knew would one day be written but hoped I would never write it.
This morning I read the horrific but sadly unsurprising news of the death of Bank of America intern, Moritz Erhardt, while working far beyond the regular work hours. According to the website wallstreetoasis.com, Moritz had been working consecutive all-nighters prior to his untimely death. While I understand that in the pursuit of work graduates are willing to jump through whatever absurd hoops employers are willing to put up, I believe the fault does not lie with the employers.
The blame for the insane strain placed upon interns lies solely at the doors of the internship culture that has been created in the UK. Of course businesses will use interns they provide cheap or free labour, they will be the brightest minds of their generation, you can take their innovation pass it off as the companies and then simply start the process all over again with the next years graduates.
A quote from the Evening Standard in 2011, rams home the insanity companies are willing to brand their graduates with, "Every intern's worst nightmare is what's called 'the Magic Roundabout' - which is when you get a taxi to drive you home at 7am and then waits for you while you shower and change and then takes you back to the office."
The shift in this ugly culture is reliant on our government's willing to change it. While they have shown willing; now only advertising 44 unpaid internships out of the over 2,000 on their own graduate pool, it is simply not enough. Bluntly put; without legislation why should businesses stop?
With the 'internship rite of passage' remaining for many as the only way into employment it would seem that it is not only me and my organisation that is trying to find a way around the need for them. According to recent research the number of recent graduates choosing to work for themselves has more than doubled in the last year, a shard of hope for what some politicians -behind close doors- are calling another lost generation.
This move by graduates to turn away from traditional offers of work is to me the real hope for my generation's future. While the amount of graduates searching for jobs still vastly outweighs the vacancies in the traditional market we need to encourage and support those willing to create their own jobs. This is why my organisation works to help graduates build on their skills learned at university with experience that is gained on their terms and through their own ambition because they deserve to dictate their own future.
It is my sincere hope that it is not just myself that will work with increase vigour to make sure that no one else should feel that they have to work in an environment like Moritz found himself in pursuit of employment.