Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | Monday, 12 January 2015

Think Your Internship Is Bad? Imagine Paying £300 For A Reference

The Debrief: Because that’s the asking rate at this think-tank…

Unpaid internships are bad enough, but how about an unpaid internship where you have to pay the boss £300 for a good reference at the end?

Because that’s what the head of think-tank Civitatis International has admitted to doing, reports The Observer. Jan Mortier, who used to be an aide to a Lib Dem peer, runs the private foundation which is ‘committed to promoting peace, dialogue and co-operation between nations and civilisations’

The shame is, via the junior associates programme, it’s been swindling unpaid interns of £300 per reference. Mortier would write to the ex-participants of programme to tell them they must pay £300 per employee reference from Civitatis. Which isn’t very noble considering unpaid interns must do quite a lot of work for the think-tank, for free.

The programme didn’t give its participants any official qualification or a guarantee of a good job. When it was advertised, it was described on Internwise as a ‘tool ideal to meet employers and gain some work experience’.

Civitatis, which used to run a scheme charging young peple over £1,600 for a three-month ‘unique experience in project management training at our international secretariat in the City of London’ now runs a summer school where you can pay £400 for the week.

Tanya de Grunwald, who runs graduate careers blog Graduate Fog, said: 'Employing unpaid interns is bad enough, but charging them for a reference when they leave is appalling. We keep being assured that the graduate job market is picking up, but this case shows that there are still dark corners of it where unscrupulous employers find they can take advantage of young jobseekers’ desperation and naivety. This guy should be ashamed.'

When approached by The Observer about this £300-a-reference fee, he said it was a ‘fair administrative fee’

Something tells us that if you just need to pay for connections there should be a much simpler way of doing it, like hanging outside offices and just giving important people big wodges of cash. Something also tells is that Civitatis might not be the best place to launch a career…unless you can afford it, that is.

Like this? You'll also be interested in:

So Unpaid Internships Cost You £900 A Month. But There Is A Solution

Interns At Facebook Are Earning Double The Starting Salary For A UK Graduate

Are You  A Woman? It's Better For You To Live In Rwanda Than In The UK

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

Tags: Work it