Evergreen Opinions

I never thought I would disagree with Graduate Fog

I never thought I would disagree with
Written by Faizan Patankar

I never thought I would disagree with

I never thought I would disagree with Graduate Fog. Tanya writes a lot of good stuff and best of all, writes honest stuff. But in this case I have to disagree.

Graduate Gog responded to a BrokeInLondon.com advert. You can find the full response here.

In summary what Graduate Fog is saying is, it doesn’t matter that BrokeInLondon (BIL) does not generate revenue at the moment and the person running it does not take any money. Irrespective of BIL making money or not (which they are not), they cannot hire unpaid interns. The founder working for free does not mean the workers have to work for free as well. If a business isn’t making money or pulling in investment, it’s a poor business idea and no one should do unpaid internship for such a business.

I have few comments on this, and this isn’t anything against Graduate Fog. I just can’t make myself agree to the latest argument by Graduate Fog and in a nice way here’s what I think.

1. Unpaid Internships are bad… but could there be a test period?

There is no arguing unpaid internships are bad and they really do make my blood boil. No question about it. But I dislike unpaid internships because

i) Businesses offer unpaid internships who generate revenue – that’s unfair

ii) Unpaid internships are often selling a lie that it will turn into a paid job

Now, in this case BIL isn’t making any money. Forget making money, it isn’t generating revenue. The guy who runs it doesn’t get paid… so realistically, I wouldn’t expect to be paid if I was working for BIL. Is it right to treat a business which makes £100,000s+ in revenue not paying interns the same way as someone who makes nothing but dreams of creating a successful business?

My answer is No, I am afraid I wouldn’t treat them the same way.

2. BIL has responded with something… is it right to blast them for that?

Graduate Fog has named and shamed many businesses who hire unpaid interns which is quite frankly exploiting vulnerable unemployed people. Anyways, whenever someone comes back they come back with a spokesperson trained to speak garbage going blah blah blah blah blah.

In this case BIL has come back laying it’s points and saying what it is doing and why it doesn’t pay and who it doesn’t pay. And Graduate Fog has responded by mocking the letter and the thoughts behind it. Why not draft a full response and counter each point sincerely rather than mocking a site that doesn’t generate revenue?

Maybe I am wrong, maybe the best way to respond to small startup sites like BIL is to mock them and make them feel they should’ve just shut their mouth and carried on.

3. BIL isn’t Graduate Fog or Career Geek

Career Geek is a failure when it comes to making money. I could never get it to generate sustainable revenue and all my grand plans failed because I could never be bothered trying to pull in investment.

In that sense Career Geek is a failure. I keep talking and doing everything on my own + give space for others to share their views on the blog.

Graduate Fog – Tanya does all on her own too. Pretty much the same story as me. However I don’t know what her business plans are, her revenue etc.

Essentially CG and GF would not hire unpaid interns to grow and all that sort of stuff.

But BIL isn’t one of us. It is a new site trying to build itself… maybe we should give it some leeway. Knowing my own failure in ever becoming sustainable, I am a lot more sympathising to small startups who could really make it if they could put some time to build proper traction right at the start.

So that’s my view… the truth is, when it comes to unpaid internships I am on the same side with Graduate Fog. And even after this, I don’t disagree with Tanya’s sentiment. If there is someone who you should listen to when it comes to action on unpaid internship it is Tanya of Graduate Fog.

However, this time, just this one time I think BIL didn’t deserve all of the harsh criticism.

p.s. to BIL – if you guys don’t generate revenue or pull investment in the next 12 months – the idea is not viable and it’s best to shelve it.  

About the author

Faizan Patankar

I started Career Geek Blog in 2011 to share my experience in job-hunting. I now focus on careers industry and blogging is just a tool to share that info. Love hacking careers. During the day I focus on my hobby - Engineering.


  • And I totally DISagree with your points! (But don’t worry, we can still be friends)

    On point 1, you seem to be saying that unpaid internships are bad because they are unfair. That’s true, but they are also exploitative (a person donates something of value, for nothing – and excluding( those who can’t afford to do it can’t gain this experience). For me, BiL falls down on both points. Whether it’s making money YET is irrelevent. While name and shame stories work best when it’s someone with deep pockets (Cowell, Blair, Green), the ethics remain unchanged regardless of the employer’s financial situation.

    Point 2 – The style of my approach for this story. To be honest, I was just trying a slightly different approach with the editorial, as I feel straight name-and-shames become repetitive. I felt the tone of my post matched much of the criticism already on Twitter, so I didn’t think much of it. Maybe I’d do it again like that, maybe I wouldn’t. Not sure.

    Point 3 – You say “Essentially CG and GF would not hire unpaid interns to grow and all that sort of stuff. But BIL isn’t one of us. It is a new site trying to build itself… maybe we should give it some leeway.” I just don’t get this. BiL is extremely similar to GF, perhaps why it makes me so mad. I’m not saying this guy isn’t trying to do a good thing with his site, I think he is. But he’s lost sight of what’s okay in terms of the ethics of having staff. From his response, he even admits that he’s worried that the social media backlash could harm his chances of getting investment. I think he is trying to run this as a business, and sees himself as an entrepreneur. Which is fine – but he needs to be have like one, and that includes having serious ideas about plugging his current funding gap. I’m not saying it’s easy, but that’s the deal when you’re setting up on your own. I have a plan (which I’ve worked hard on). I’m not going to tell you what it is – but I can tell you that it does NOT involve taking advantage of unpaid interns!


  • Hi,

    Since a couple of days I am following this discussion around Broke In London and I am really glad to see that a person like Faizan is taking a total different approach to this topic than Graduate Fog or previous bloggers on twitter did. You might ask…what is the difference?

    It’s an easy answer… Career Geek does not seem to throw any free accusations to people and tries to see the issue from many points of view.

    With all the publicity that Broke in London got during these days I am absolutely sure that if BIL would have the money to pay for lawyer it could definitely get some money for defamation and therefore the necessary salary enabling them to offer a REAL internship.

    Besides this I would like to give a couple of remarks to Graduate Fog answers:

    It looks like there is a big fuzz around the word “internship” but at the same time BIL seems to be aligned with the HMRC guidelines. According to the information provided by the founder on “Evening Standard”:

    “No contract being offered – as this is a voluntary position in line with the volunteering job guidelines of HMRC (i.e., no set times, no contract, no obligations, and no payment).”

    If these are the guidelines, why nobody seems to know them or read them?

    In regards to Graduate Fog second answering point: “I felt the tone of my post matched much of the criticism already on Twitter”

    I personally think there is not much to say about this comment besides asking how much free thinking and acting is involved!?

    Last remark I would like to make is in regards to a comment that really catches my attention: “BiL is extremely similar to GF, perhaps why it makes me so mad”. I have to admit that I did not know Graduate Fog before this story came out but while checking its twitter channel, I could not oversee at least 4 accusing tweets about BIL within 2 days. We could talk about “discussing for a good cause” or “fishing traffic” but personally I could only think about a famous latin citation: “mors tua, vita mea” (your death, my life) .

    Is this entire bubble about ethics or market?

    Thanks a lot for your attention,

    Have a great day folks,