Interning and Investing: Rethinking Unpaid Work, Social Capital, and the “Human Capital Regime”

Sophie Hope, Joanna Figiel


For young workers, interning is a strategy for speculating on one’s asset portfolio. Students and graduates undertake internships as a way of maintaining their self-appreciation and avoiding depreciation in a “human capital regime.” In this article, we explore the specific example of interning in the creative industries as the self-management of human capital vis-à-vis the human capital theses. Taking three cultural objects and recent representations of the issue of unpaid internships—Intern magazine, an advert for a “volunteering opportunity” student placement, and testimonies from interns—we analyze how unpaid work in the creative industries and the neoliberal version of human capital entrepreneurship can be seen as embodied by interns.



internships, human capital, employability, unpaid work, policy

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