After finishing my second year of uni I was still struggling to know exactly what I wanted to do, so I decided to defer my final year and move to London to try and get some experience. I was lucky enough to be offered a paid 4 month internship in marketing which I loved, and after finishing that I was keen to find another position which focused on writing.
I spotted an ad on Gumtree from MyVillage.com for an short-term intern writer position at their listing, reviews and lifestyle website. I sent my CV over and was asked to come on board at the beginning of December 2010. The 'office' I had been given directions for turned out to be the owner's house, and for the first week or so I was the only person there. The owner then recruited another intern, and as a duo we wrote all of the content for the site for the next few weeks.
Just before Christmas, the owner took us both aside and told us that the company had been bought by a publishing firm, and that he was keen for us to stay on after Christmas and work from the firm's offices. He told me that he now wanted some continuity for the site and was keen to keep me on, and that we would discuss pay once we had settled in the following month. I naively went along with it.
Flash forward to the middle of February, and I had been given the title 'Senior Editor' and was now running a team of 6 writers - all unpaid interns - who I had trained, continually briefed and looked after each day. I managed the entire editorial strategy for the website as the owner was hardly ever around - he was always off on errands or on holiday.
I continued to pester about my salary - he continually promised to get it sorted, but never did. Finally, after 6 weeks of chasing, he told me that he and the firm had decided that they weren't going to pay me, and that they believed 'sending her to review restaurants and films was payment enough'.
I really enjoyed the job, but I did not believe that the work I produced was worthless. I quit straight away and took them to court with the help of the National Union of Journalists, and successfully sued them for the minimum wage. My only regret is that I wasn't able to encourage the 6 other interns to do the same.