Want some experience? It’s gonna cost ya!

I’m not a social enterprise. I don’t have a CSR budget – but I also don’t want one. Ever.
‘Doing the right thing’ isn’t reserved for charities.

To be honest, it’s probably been the harder of the options – in a market where only offering an intern expenses is ‘acceptable’, anything more is seen as ‘fair’ and offering something close to a minimum wage is darnright crazy, it is more than easy to get complacent.

I wouldn’t say I’m a business expert. I’ve learnt a lot over the past year and I did A-level business studies (got a B, actually) but I’ve still got a long way to go. I remember even in those lessons being a bit confused at the idea of CSR planning. It’s kind of uncomfortable – the idea that corporations, by default, will do evils and then throw some money at CSR schemes to fix it. I don’t want to make the mistakes I will then need to shell out to correct.

Maybe I’m being naïve and will chew my blogposts some time in the future when I have shareholders to please and employees to pay. I’m pretty sure that will be a hard swallow: selling out, compromising my principles. My ‘PR people’ will have to search my social media history for evidence of my past affiliations with the good side. Maybe I’ll need hypnotherapy so that I can sleep at night (sleeping will be done on my billion pound yacht, btw). But for now I only have myself and my lovely friends and family who occasionally enquire as to how their ‘investment’ might be doing – of course, not completely expectantly and mainly out of kind interest.

Most of my CSR related angst comes from the ever-popular topic of internships – should they be paid, how much should they be paid, does having an experience-hungry student cleaning your office count as an opportunity? Students are effectively paying for their ‘experience’ and that experience is difficult to value. Some measure the experience aspect of a role as the amount you learn from it, how that balances with the benefits to the company who are getting next-to-free labour is not nearly challenged enough. And the graduate market is tough. Really tough. Without ‘experience’, and lots of it, you’re looking at interning, perhaps for months while supporting yourself. The tougher the market, the more people are tempted to sell ‘experience only’ opportunities and the more we hear one of my favourite phrases (not): ‘Good Quality Graduate’. That’s right, graduates (i.e. young people just entering the job market after 3 plus years working towards self improvement through good ol’ education) are judged for their quality – like cheese in a supermarket.

Which brings me to my next topic of rant – Human Resources. Who invented this term? And could there be anything less human than calling people ‘resources’? Maybe that’s another post though…


Steph is founder of Jeenia ltd and co-founder of Telescope. She enjoys reading, writing and expressing views that are her OWN, not necessarily those of her various ventures…