Sophie Heawood: The interns generation must stop feeling sorry for itself


Sophie Heawood
Thursday 05 July 2012 19:41
Sophie Heawood on graduates: 'We felt pretty sorry for you – until you started moaning.'
Sophie Heawood on graduates: 'We felt pretty sorry for you – until you started moaning.'

Oh, graduates. At first, we all felt bad. The statistics came out and they weren't pretty. You've come out of university with 2:1s that you paid for and you can't get jobs. The industries you were preparing for are in flux. The economy is all tangled up like Medusa's hair, London flats rent for more than villas in Calvi, and you're expected to take an unpaid internship that lasts until you hand over your first-born child.

David Cameron says you can't have housing benefit because you must stay with your parents until you're 25, even if they live in a cave and they beat you. We felt pretty sorry for you – until you started moaning. Until I read yet another blog post from somebody who is like totes miffed that she did a degree in journalism and now she can't get a job in it. Until I read a newspaper article complaining that you thought the world of work would be like Sex and the City or The Devil Wears Prada. Until you went around saying that this is the worst time ever to be 22 and looking for a job and that you now feel your arts degree was "pointless".

Arts degrees were always pointless; that's the point. I'm sorry you paid so much more than we did to find this out, but seriously, what did you think they were for? Honing your brain, helping you find out what is written in all the brilliant books, understanding how power is distributed? Yes, yes that's what they can do. Getting you a job? Never.

You've been watching the wrong telly. My generation grew up with The Young Ones, which taught us that students were to be laughed at, because they were almost entirely useless. We still went on to become them, but we knew our worth, and wore it with a touch of humility.

Internship culture has gone bonkers, but you can help yourselves here. Do not, like the intern recently employed by the director of one human rights organisation I know, send an email on the day you are due to arrive, saying you have decided it is much better for everyone if you devote these months to working on your novel instead. Do not, once you start work, tweet about what a bitch your boss is, as I have seen younger friends do. I'm relieved I had no chance of becoming a journalist at 22 – I was nearer 30, having spectacularly messed up other careers first.

Still, it's really not your fault – not only has the telly misled you, but you've got the wrong sort of hip-hop. Back in the 90s, every rap song I heard was about the hustle, about how everybody had to fight their way out of the ghetto by dealing drugs. Now you've got the enlightened ennui of Kanye and Drake saying how miserable they are at the top, which is no use to anyone.

My advice to the Government if you want to create entrepreneurs? Bring back Neil from The Young Ones and Biggie Smalls.

A responsive Aga? No, thanks

I recently spent the weekend with some friends who left London a few years ago to move to the country, have babies, keep chickens and grow their own veg. As dusk falls, they pull their food out of their own garden and cook it on the Aga – living the dream.

Ahh, that lovely big warm Aga, with its lack of settings, its oil guzzling, its lazy expression. How it made me yearn for a simpler life as it sat there, lording it over their kitchen witlessly. It slumped like a sloth; unbudging as a stubborn relative in their favourite chair at Christmas.

So I was horrified to learn that Agas are to be made more responsive. Apparently, they are being redesigned to be programmed by remote control – yes, you will be able to text your Aga. This feels so wrong, it's like saying they've changed the law and the postman now has to come inside your house and fold your letters into your hand himself. It isn't right.

So I rang the friends in their rural idyll to discuss this distressing Aga saga. Turns out they didn't share my horror. "That stupid old thing?" they said. "Binned it. We've just bought an Electrolux instead."

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