Are there any formal rules on internships?

Hi Helen,

I am a recent graduate of Marketing and was really pleased when I got offered an internship at a London app development company. Unfortunately I have been in this role now for a month, shadowing the Marketing Manager and all I do is make teas, pick up the teams dry cleaning and data analysis (a lot of Excel spreadsheets).Is this right? Should I persevere? They are only paying me travel expenses so I am living with my parents but I am not sure if this will lead to any real experience. Are there any formal rules on internships? Should I stick or try to find a paid job?


Helen Brown

Helen Brown

Hi K.,

If the internship is salaried, then there are minimum wage requirements that the employer needs to adhere to. Requirements for companies to pay a salary depends on the employment status of the intern. The employer doesn’t have to pay the minimum wage if an internship only involves shadowing an employee, ie no work is carried out by the intern and they are only observing. For more information please visit

Due to the pressures of the current economy, many agencies can now only offer these types of non-salaried internships and for many ‘first jobbers’ these schemes are the only option available to them. The calibre of these schemes will vary greatly; some are genuinely set up to give interns an opportunity to gain valuable on the job experience and will offer access to real client projects and training.

Having said that, regardless of the calibre of the employer, as a junior member of the team you will be asked to do a lot of administrative tasks and these days data analysis and Excel make up a lot of what we do, this won’t change dramatically especially in areas of marketing associated with media, insights and analytics.

But being asked to pick up dry cleaning? In my personal opinion that’s just not acceptable. If you can, for the sake of your CV, stick this internship out and at the same time apply for roles that focus more on your career development and less on the manager’s abuse of company resources.

Kind Regards,


My name is Helen Brown and I’m your Careers Agony Aunt for Brand Republic.  I’m also the Chief Talent Officer for Mediacom.  Maybe you’re frustrated about losing that promotion or not sure whether to accept a tempting job offer?  You might be suffering from a lack of development or struggling with management. Whatever the problem, email here and I’ll do my best to help.

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