Maney Archaeology (@ManeyArchaeo) has advertised Maney’s (general) Leeds Graduate Internship Programme (ideally, in humanities publishing) and London Graduate Internship Programme (ideally, in science publishing).(1) I couldn’t immediately find Maney’s profit margin; but, for example, Elsevier makes 36% pure profit; and academic publishers in general are estimated to make about 20-30%; yet Maney’s interns are unpaid.
The adverts are practically identical: you can ‘develop your skills and gain work experience’ in Leeds or ‘gain work experience and develop your skills’ in London, ‘gain a good overview of academic publishing, gaining valuable experience within an editorial and production environment’ in Leeds or ‘explore the business, gaining valuable experience within our Editorial, Marketing and On-line departments’ in London.
Work is work. The national minimum wage is the national minimum wage.
Both programmes specifically require full-time, unpaid labour. They define it as ‘voluntary for five days a week, Monday to Friday’ for three months (2) – ‘voluntary and therefore unpaid’, though they ‘will refund travel and subsistence expenses up to £13.00 per day’. (Yes, the travel and subsistence expenses in London are the same as in Leeds.) However, they also explain that you ‘must be available to work each day Monday to Friday 9.00 am to 5.00 pm’, to ‘undertak[e] whatever real tasks are current’.
Trainee workers are still workers. They are doing real work. And these are graduate jobs. This is contractual, full-time work.
From temporary, unpaid internship to permanent, full-time employment?
Both programmes hold out the prospect of permanent, full-time employment: ‘You must have the right to work in the UK (successful interns may be considered for permanent roles at the end of their internship. We therefore cannot consider candidates on student visas).’ And the adverts include testimony from interns who have become employees, so it is a real possibility.
However, the Leeds programme, at least, ‘runs four times a year starting in January, April[,] July and October’. Is it unreasonable to suggest that: Maney has a vested interest in maintaining a programme of full-time, unpaid labour; if they cycle through unpaid interns season after season, year after year, permanent, full-time employment for any one of those interns is unlikely; and, anyway, if they have a constant supply of real work for graduate workers, they could and should employ a permanent, full-time worker to do it?
1: Apparently, undergraduates as well as graduates and postgraduates can apply for the Leeds internship, though both programmes advise that candidates ‘should have obtained a good degree’.
Both programmes vaguely require that you ‘must be able to demonstrate your true interest towards a career in publishing’ and suggest ‘examples or samples of projects or research’. Obviously, they could come from other unpaid internships; but they could come from qualifications, courses, papers or even blog posts concerning publishing, so that’s not unduly restrictive.
2: The London internship lasts 12 weeks; the “standard” Leeds internship does too (though it sounds as if it varies).