When I was 15 I decided I wanted to be a fashion journalist. When I was sixteen I wrote, photographed and self-published a book to try and gain experience and contacts that would help my career. The book was about all things pink, and I chose to donate 70% of the profits to a breast cancer charity. David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, met with me to congratulate me on my hard work and commitment in producing my book.
I wrote to hundreds of journalists asking them questions about the colour pink. When the book was finished I sent those who had replied a signed copy, along with a letter asking for work experience. That was how a country girl with no contacts managed to get her foot in the door of the fashion industry.
Since then I have done 7 unpaid internships in fashion and journalism. I will complete a fashion journalism degree in 2013. But one day 6 months ago I turned around and realised I was part of a flawed system. Unpaid internships seemed to be the only route into journalism and fashion which meant talented young people who couldn't afford to work for free are being cut out. I will not be able to afford to intern after I graduate (and my student loan runs out) but the majority of graduate jobs I see are unpaid internships for 6 months up to a year.
I decided to do something about it. I now campaign for fairer, paid internships. I have written several articles on the subject and try to use my voice to speak out about an issue that directly affects me and my peers. I have been interviewed numerous times about the subject and have organised protests, including one at London Fashion Week that was in co-ordination with fair internship campaigners around the world. I have given official evidence at a government hearing about unpaid internships and given advice to MPs.
I am also making a short film about unpaid internships in the fashion industry, and a website that will give advice to people like me on how to get empowered, how to fight for their rights and how to avoid having to work for free. I want to propose an alternative to the current system and see young people realising another way, like I have done.
Fair access to careers and the belief that unpaid internships are detrimental to social mobility. Gender equality and the ability to be a strong, campaigning woman in a pink dress.
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