Two weeks work experience at Tatler magazine was auctioned for £4,000 at the Conservative Party’s fund-raising Black and White Party, where a range of other internship vacancies were made available to the highest bidder, according to a report over the weekend.
In a story headed ‘Cash for internship’, the Mail on Sunday reported that millionaire Tory supporters paid around £3,000 each for their children to have the golden chance of spending a week or two with a number of top finance companies and banks.
Amongst the internships on offer was Lot 14, two weeks at the CondÃ© Nast ‘social bible’, which went for £4,000.
A week’s work experience at Caxton Associates, a Mayfair hedge fund, went for £2,500, while Lot 4 was a two-week internship at CMC Markets, offering an ‘incredible opportunity for a potential young trader to get an inside look at the world of international finance and online trading’. It went for £3,000.
The whole business didn’t seem to impress former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil, who used his BBC blog to sound off.
Internships and work experience are proving increasingly crucial to opening doors and opportunities in later life.
Many have expressed the view that the best intern and work experience opportunities in fields like politics, finance and the media are going disproportionately to those who are already privileged and well-connected. From what I’ve seen myself in recent years I suspect that to be trueâ€¦
The experience and contacts made there will no doubt be invaluable to the youngsters lucky enough to have parents who won the bidding. But note how those from already privileged backgroundsâ€¦are able to skew matters to their further advantage, not just in terms of the schools they can afford or the top universities they can get into but in something so basic as work experience.
In today’s incredibly competitive labour markets work experience matters more than ever when it comes to securing that first rung on the ladder. Companies might like to think how they make their internships open to as wide a selection of the talented from all backgrounds as they can.
I suggest that internships granted on the basis of parents who can afford £400 a head for dinner then £3,000 per internship cannot be regarded as entirely fair or meritocratic.