intern magazine issue zero
Credit: Intern issue zero. Provided by Intern Magazine
For students, summer brings the inevitable search for work and, for some, the start of an internship in their chosen profession. But the culture of internships, both paid and unpaid, has had a lot of bad press recently. Tarred by the same brush as the UK government's Workfare scheme and lambasted by politicians as defrauding a "vulnerable generation" , the precise nature of internships is still shrouded in a fog of misinformation and false assumptions.

Intern magazine hopes to change that. Raising nearly half of its target after a week on Kickstarter, the aims of the magazine are twofold: to promote the work of up and coming talent and, moreover, start a discussion about what an internship is, means, and should be.

"If you approach places with an idea then it can be very different from what you might assume it can be," said editor-in-chief Alec Dudson. "So the important part, for us, is the effort we're going to put in to initiate a frank debate about the state of intern culture in the creative industries and the implications for all concerned."

I'm hell-bent on ensuring this is not a magazine where everyone complainsAlec Dudson, editor-in-chief, intern magazine
Although the magazine is focussed on the creative industries, Dudson stresses how transferable the experiences documented in the magazine are, particularly to the media and its "flippant use of unpaid labour". Intern magazine will not preach a revolution or try to solve a problem, but rather shed light on what is a growing but rarely discussed facet of working life.

"If I can de-mystify it and make it a bit more of an overt conversation then it will potentially have the power to improve the intern experience," continued Dudson. "If people going in know more about what to expect then they may get more out of it. And if people in the industry understand that they are taking on an investment in those people they will get far better results out of them."

The idea was born out of Dudson's personal experience in publishing. Working for magazines in Milan, London and Athens over the course of a year in what he describes as an "amazing experience", it ended with the all-too-common realisation that, one year in, he was back where he started.

"It struck me that if I'd had a resource of this ilk," he said, "not just in terms of imparting a little wisdom and advice but also painting the picture for me before I started, I would have gone about things a different way or with a different attitude."

intern mag 460
Issue one. Photo provided by Intern Magazine.

As such, the opening piece for issue zero, a promotional template for the glossy first issue, serves as an immediate paradigm shift in terms of what a young intern can achieve with a little willpower and imagination. It is the story of Daniel Cooper, a young graphic designer who, says Dudson, managed to "blag" a flight to Iceland on a young talent scheme as a means to finding inspiration for his final year project at university. Rather than flying back to London afterwards, he persuaded the scheme to book him a flight to Istanbul and from there he worked his way home on an inter-rail ticket, stopping at half-a-dozen cities along the way, a design studio in each and exchanging two days of work for one day of mentoring. In addition to learning a great deal, Cooper turned the experience into a book.

"It's an interesting take on internships," said Dudson. "It opens up the possibilities of what an internship can be and also the important idea that as the intern you have a great amount of power in that kind of situation.

"If it's not working out for you and they're not paying you or you don't have a written contract you can have a lot of power. You can say, albeit politely, 'this isn't what I'd hoped, I can't really justify the time I'm spending here with what I'm getting back so it's not for me'. I think that gets lost a lot of the time and cases like Daniel's are great, cases of people very much taking the bull by the horns and making it work for them. If you approach places with an idea, an internship can be very different from what you assume it has to be."

Other stories include an interview with a pair of twins who both went on internships and had very different experiences, an intern at Domus magazine interviewing the publications outgoing art director, and a photographer who showcases some of his work and describes how he made the transition from student to self-supporting freelancer. In another, a young man details his struggle to get a job in television in Manchester.

It could be a great starting point for established folk to think more objectively about the whole intern set upAlec Dudson, editor-in-chief, intern magazine
"The one thing I'm hell-bent on ensuring is not having a magazine where everyone complains about how badly they've been treated," Dudson said. "There's no fun in that and it doesn't do anything constructive."

In what he sees as unusual for a magazine, all contributors will be paid and although it may not be considered a professional fee it is part of the ethos of supporting young talent that the magazine, and accompanying website, aspire to.

Although the site is currently geared towards promoting the Kickstarter campaign and issue zero's contributors, it will be restructured should the £5,500 target be reached. From there it will act as a stand alone resource and community for the target audience. Some elements are still under wraps but a jobs board is one section which Dudson is intent on including.

"When I was an intern I'd regularly have my eye on the jobs board," he said, "and on the rare occasion that something editorial came up it would not be low down [entry level]. So we'll post junior positions, paid internships and things that we can do our best to vet."

Ultimately, the key factor for Dudson is in "enriching the intern experience" and although the front cover will always feature interns, the magazine will occasionally invite a "big name" to offer their tales on how they became successful.

"It's an important means of inspiration and if this project can get people to hark back to those experiences maybe that will be a great starting point for established folk to start thinking more objectively about the whole intern set up," he said.

"If you get sustained traction from the creative industries its potential effect will only be strengthened by having the occasional big name come and forthrightly discuss the subject with us," said Dudson.

"It's just a case of doing that in a way which doesn't shoot ourselves in the foot so we're still around for the future."

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