One way to react to an unpaid-intern uprising is to shutter your entire program, thereby allowing a few snot-nosed bellyachers to ruin the lives of many, many Andy Sachs wannabes who would gladly give their right arms to fetch coffee and organize the fashion closet. Another (saner) option is to reduce the number of kids you take on, call up the secretary of state for education, and devise a plan to better prepare teenagers for the workforce.
Sir Philip Green, the Grand Pooh-bah of Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge, and more, is just the sort of chap who would appreciate a good Horatio Alger story; now, he’s helping young people write their own tales of retail to riches.
According to the London Evening Standard, students at 15 UK schools can apply for two-week placements in Arcadia, Green’s empire, during which they’ll learn about fashion buying, finance, resume-writing, social media, and merchandising. Green and his execs cooked up this scheme after an investigation forced Arcadia to pay interns who had previously worked for free.
“There was one girl who made a complaint,” Green told the Standard. “This girl has spoilt it for thousands of people. We had 300 or 400 kids interning, now it’s about 30.”
The shrunken pool of all-purpose drudges created more problems for Green:
“If I call the girl now and ask her to bring me a bottle of water, I’m told ‘She’s doing a job.’ I mean, please. Where are we living? I thought we were doing a service, giving 300 people a shot.”
Not the most tactfully phrased, but we understand the whole insolent-child mentality. Would you get on board if something like this came to the U.S.? Leave us your comments below.