I graduated University back in 2015, and like every naive graduate who wants a job in the creative field, I was very intimidated by the job market. It was competitive, I felt like I every entry-level job wanted me to have 5 years of experience and to top it off I was hell-bent on being a writer, despite not being based in London.
Now I know people do ‘make it’ and live their dreams by doing their creative love as employment, but that isn’t the case for everyone. So I did what any idiot does, an unpaid internship.
Now here’s the thing about unpaid internships, they lure you in with the promise of paid employment after 3 months if you ‘prove yourself’. So like any young person desperate to get the big break I worked my ass off for free. I started off writing for an online magazine as a gaming writer and eventually moved on to write about anything and everything. Spoiler alert, even after 3 months they still had no intention of paying me or any of the other writers in the team.
My first few weeks there were also interesting since they started to implement themes of the week and I joined during sex week.
This magazine had weekly meetings to keep up to date about what everyone was working on, talk about which articles did the best and also occasionally teach us some things. During sex month however it was very different since sex articles tend to do the best, we were encouraged to brainstorm some saucy ideas.
Now don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t what made me uncomfortable. What made me feel gross was when one of the key management members, an older man, asked us all (teen girls included), what we would wear to have sex, and asked us one by one pressuring us to answer this question in front of everyone.
The second week it escalated, and he asked everyone what we would do if we got raped, and gave no room to not answer this question. Which was when I realised I was in a f***ed up place, but me being desperate to live my writing dreams I powered through.
Naturally like every place that sucks the souls of youth, they asked for more and more commitment from all of us as writers, but no monetary gratification at all. I even started a podcast with the two other gaming writers which didn’t do well because the people running the magazine didn’t understand or care to learn how to market things in the new digital age (ironic I know).
When one of my friends left and wrote an honest glass door review and Facebook status about his experiences, one of the managers called him and threatened him with legal action and to also tarnish his reputation with his university professors.
I could write a dissertation on the place and their acts, but honestly, it opened my eyes to the dark side of the creative industry. I’m thankful I got the chance to learn skills like SEO optimisation and how to use WordPress from them, but it wasn’t worth the emotional labour involved.
Stay tuned for part 2 where I write about another magazine that’s run by a communist.
All images are taken from unsplash.