The modern economy is a tricky thing – particularly if you’re trying to land your first job. Case in point: businesses that once trained large swaths of first-timers on the job have become increasingly reluctant to give the inexperienced a go.
What many businesses are happy to offer, though, are internships: unpaid positions that (ostensibly) provide newbies with experience rather than cash. These programs can be useful for getting a foot in the door. But with internships fast becoming the norm, they’ve started to create problems of their own. After all, who asides from the super-wealthy has the time to work for free, just to (maybe) get an entry-level job down the track?
It’s a question that puzzled these five young design students from New York, who were recently facing the prospect of doing unpaid labour in one of the world’s most expensive cities. Their solution? Buy an old school bus with money from their part-time kitchen jobs, convert it into a mobile design studio, and travel the U.S. doing freelance gigs whenever they blew into a new town.
Not only does this sound like a great way to spend a summer, but the adventure has proved professionally useful, too. When one of the lads went for this first proper job interview, he was instantly offered the role of creative director rather than the regular entry-level gig.
Of course, this isn’t a solution that can apply to everyone spiralling around in the Intern Economy. But it does go to show that there are alternatives to working for free, for the very enterprising at least.
Rather aptly, this story, which was written by Betty Rosen, comes from intern, a new magazine “for and by the creative youth”. It’s a seriously good read, and while we’re sad we can’t get our hands on their first issue (it has sold out), we are glad they’ve decided to put some of their stories online.
Photography: Logan Meckley and Joshua Weaver