I was incensed the other evening when my friend posted an article from The Independent onto my Facebook page. The article in question was written by Sophie Heawood about the pointlessness of Art Degrees and how nowadays one who has a degree in the Arts will never get a job — but we knew that anyway, apparently. She goes on to advise about how not to screw up an internship and then patronisingly states, “Still, it’s really not your fault.” Ergh. Enough, enough, enough. I Googled Sophie Heawood and found out the following: that her “degree was mainly in Portuguese, especially the history of Portugal’s fascist colonies in Africa.” Sounds about as relevant to me as she says Art degrees are. And she doesn’t mention on her ‘About me’ page how she made it in the world of Journalism. Perhaps it was tireless interning and unpaid work, or maybe it was a lucky contact she had from a family member. I guess we’ll never know.
It’s not so much what she says – I know, and I think most relatively intelligent people know, that there are a lack of jobs out there. I have known since I was 14 that to break into the world of journalism I am going to have to tirelessly write to, be rejected by, and hopefully one day offered the chance to do some unpaid work experience and make some valuable contacts for the future. I find it very patronising that someone who is lucky enough, privileged enough, to be writing for newspapers and “interviewing celebrities for The Times (mainly the Saturday Arts Review section)…contribut[ing] to the Sunday Times Style mag, The Observer magazine, The Independent on Sunday (comment section), the Guardian Guide, the NME and Grazia, is up on her high horse telling us “do not to send an email on the day you are due to arrive, saying you have decided it is much better for everyone if you devote these months to working on your novel instead. Do not, once you start work, tweet about what a bitch your boss is”. Duh. Thank you, Sophie, for enlightening me on how to behave like a normal human being.
The only people I know who are getting internships handed to them on a plate – and who would even consider saying they are ‘devoting these months to working on [their] novel instead’ – are privileged, wealthy individuals whose Mummys and Daddys have the right contacts. Myself and my friends have occasionally been lucky enough to land some work experience through an invaluable contact – and boy have we appreciated every second of it. Work experience is hard to come by when you’re just a regular person without a network of ‘the right people’ and I thought that Sophie Heawood’s article was very unsympathetic to that fact. The newspapers are already bulging with the sorry facts that unemployment is ‘at an all time high’ and that degrees are now ‘pointless’ – – most of the population would give their right arm for an internship. About 0.001% would expect a job on a plate when they left uni – I’m certainly not. I’m in the real world.