Sebastian Bieniek

Everyone seems to be talking about a Berlin based artist Sebastian Bieniek; oh yes, even Frida Kahlo and Andy Warhol.

The first time I’ve heard about Sebastian, was in April 2013, when Deutsche Bank has announced an opening of their new Kunsthalle (Art Hall) in Berlin. On April the 5th Kunsthalle was accepting everybody’s art just for one day; until the space is full. People came early in the morning and queued for hours. There was also a cash prize of €500 for the best piece.

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Image taken from

This is in relation to the previous blogpost, how to avoid food wastage and eat for free.

This same organisation just recently started a new initiative called  which makes sure that bakeries and shops in Berlin do not throw away the food they cannot sell tomorrow, but give it for free to those in need. And you do not have be an alcoholic or homeless, anyone can sign up and pick up, sometimes, kilograms of free food.

My flatmates discovered this system about a month ago, ever since we have been having tons of free sandwiches,  sweet pastry, bio salad, broccoli, avocado etc. If the bakery tells you we close at 6pm please come 5min. before, you cannot be late! Once you’re late they will sign you off.

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© picture alliance­: dpa

© picture alliance­: dpa

Because Germans have a program called Food Sharing.

We all happen to buy sometimes too much, or the wrong item, or we simply go for a holiday and need to empty the fridge. Or maybe you had a birthday party with lots of cakes and salads and now you don’t know how to finish them all. There are many reasons why we throw away food. found the way to save the products we cannot or don’t want to consume anymore.

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Image rights: by George Gastin, Design: Katja-Avant-Hard

Image rights: by George Gastin, Design: Katja Avant-Hard

When startups are trying to reach the moon with paying an intern €300/m, it is clear – their business model is wrong. They are fooling you by saying “you will have a great chance to learn how to… and you’ll get individual tasks and responsibilities where you can show your creativity and strategic thinking”. In translation to the reality language this actually means: ” You will work 40+ hours a week, replacing an employee who otherwise would have been paid at least €2000/m”. Mummy does not pay my rent, daddy does not cover my food expenses. And I say I need a health insurance, which I cannot pay for when I only have €300/m.

Once I left a negative comment on a company’s Facebook page under an unpaid internship offer, to which they said:“If we could pay, we would; we all work for this project with a great passion and hope to find interns who will share this vision with us”. And when I said :” Can’t pay, don’t hire. You don’t work for free yourself, why should anyone?”, they deleted the post entirely. After a similar comment on Praktikum Berlin not only they deleted my comment, but also blocked me from commenting or liking their posts. 

They don’t want to hear me on Facebook, then they will have to hear me speaking out loud on the 13th of November at Supermarkt where I will be giving a masterclass presentation on this very important topic. After a coffee break Nicholas Wenzel from InternsGoPro will join us for an open discussion.

This free workshop will give a deep insight into the different aspects of an internship across the world. We will discuss what is a useful internship and what is illegal. I will talk about the biggest internship scandals in 2013 wrapping it up with Berlin startups policy. A great collection of videos, comics, stats and infographics will be provided for visitors to understand the problem and see possible solutions.

Please share the Facebook event with anyone who might be interested:  DIY MASTERCLASS: Know Your Rights! Internship Culture in Berlin

↓ The most creative way how to leave the company which destroys your life.

On this same topic a new promising German article, which I recommend to read: The Local: If the Internship is Really bad, Walk away. 

Masterclass Programme
14:00 Presentation from Katja Petrova on the problem with unfair internships, intern laws across the world, material and psychological aspects of unfair internships, case studies with source material from a range of articles, video and activist resources, problematic startups business models in Germany, and last but not least, solutions!
15:00 Open discussion where participants are welcome to share ideas, fears and experiences.
15:30 Coffee break
16:00 Nicholas Wenzel from InternsGoPro, a European community fighting for intern rights, presents his activities, ideas and action plans, including building a team of activists and a possible demonstration in Berlin in March 2014.
17:30 Hosts will be available for private talks and consultations.

Cost: The Masterclass is free, but a donation box will be present should you wish to make a contribution to the host organisations.

Language: The language of presentation will be English.

Registration: Please register your attendance by sending an email to with the subject heading “Intern Rights”. Everyone is invited to attend and participate in this Masterclass, especially activists and those who have come across this problem and/or experienced Berlin’s internship culture first-hand.

I thank Supermarkt for all their help ans support!

Bio Kiwi. Bio Label in Germany. Image taken from:

My Latvian friends are very sceptical about my bio/ecological gifts from Germany, saying that I should  not pay more for what is no different from other products. So, it’s very hard to buy us, the ex-soviet countries, with the “Bio” sticker. However on the first month of my move to Berlin I was told that Germans are very strict with what they call organic, therefore it’s time to find out the real answer.


The agriculture has become more mechanical after The World War II. Chemical adherence and intensive farming techniques have caused food safety and environment problems. As a result, countries started looking for new methods, and organic farming became more and more popular. (Rehber and Turhan, 2002) Germany was participating in biological farming quiet actively from the beginning of the 20th Century. It became especially stimulating in the 60s and 70s.

The Federation for Organic Farming was established in 1988. Standards and policies for the organic food in Germany were setup in the 90s when bio agriculture started to develop rapidly.

What’s bio/organic, ecological, natural, green or eco-friendly?

A 100% natural product is made of natural ingredients like pure fruit, water, and sugar in the case of a juice. But when a product claims to be organic or bio it also means that its ingredients were produced without any synthetic inputs and do not have any chemical additives. (

➔The bio/organic-products do not contain toxic substances: parabens (butylparaben, ethylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben) who only act as curing agent; phthalates (dibutylphthalate, diethylphthalate) who preserve the pleasant flavour, the colour and texture of the product; sodium lauryl sulfate and other substances only produce foam; imidazolidinyl urea and diazolidin urea are used as curing agents; oil by-products (mineral oil, paraffin), lanolin.

Image taken from

➔A product called “Ecological” is a product developed in accordance with criteria for the formulation and packaging in order to have less impact on the environment. This does not mean that the product is respectful of the person and the environment throughout its life cycle. In the absence of a recognized label, the consumer has no way to know if these arguments are satisfactory if there are no specific and complete criteria to respect, or official organism to confirm the veracity of the responses to criteria.

➔A product called “natural” is a product extracted from nature. The word “natural” is more or less defined by legal instruments. On the other hand the term “natural” does not always guarantee a satisfactory respect of the person and the environment. Many natural substances are classified as “toxic” to the person and / or to the environment or are classified as allergens.

➔A product called “green” is a product that organic compounds are mainly of plant origin.

➔A product called “environmentally friendly” should have a very good biodegradability and low ecotoxicity and respect the person, because humans are part of the environment.

The European Ecolabel guarantees the consumer that the product which has obtained ECOLABEL “the European eco-label” has satisfactory environmental qualities.  (

Bio Labels & Standards

EU Organic Logo

Germany is the biggest organic importer in Europe, with almost 40% of the total market. In 2011 Germany was by far the most important organic market in Europe with a turnover of €6.59 billion. France took the second place with €3.76 billion, and the UK €1,88 billion. 6,2% of agricultural land in total is being used for organic farming, that is 1034355 hectares. With Berlin being the least active, and Bavaria the most productive. More recent data, in German, can be found: HERE

There are several organic associations in Germany: Demeter, Bioland, Biokreis, Naturland, Biopark, Ecoland, Ecovin and Gaä that have contracted farmers all over Germany (press on the name to read more). Some of them operate worldwide and follow much stricter rules than EU ones. Demeter for example, which is bio-dynamic, rather than basic organic and uses holistic approach*. But all of the above mentioned ones meet very high standards and are advisable for use.

*Holistic agriculture has an aspect important for the environment: fertile soil can sequester carbon. That our soils are no longer alive is a major cause of global warming!
In Egypt the SEKEM initiative for example has been working for 35 years according to the principles of holistic agriculture. To date, nearly 700 acres of desert has been made fertile by SEKEM alone.

Other bio names

Cheaper bio named products (without any labels) from EDEKA, NETTO and LIDL meet only basic organic regulations and are not so advisable (read EU rules: here).  First let’s clarify that the simply claim “100% natural” or “without preservatives” written on the packaging doesn’t make it a bio-product.

The rules also vary from region to region. But regular checkouts are carried out through the country in order to control the liability. (auf Deutsch: hier ) Currently, 4,269 companies use the organic seal on 66,941 products. The mimimim organic level in germany is 95%.

Since September 2001, all agricultural products and foodstuffs from organic farming may be labelled with the national Bio-Siegel (eco label) of Germany. The small hexagonal logo with the inscription <- “Bio” brings about clarity, uniformity and orientation for organic or eco products respectively. Consumers can rely on it: “If it says ‘Bio’ on the outside it contains organic products.” For only producers and manufacturers who comply with the provisions of the EU Organic Farming Regulation and subject themselves to the mandatory inspections may sell their products as organic or eco goods and label them accordingly with the Bio-Siegel.

The Eco-Labelling Act contains criminal and administrative fines for misuse of the organic label. (list of regulations auf Deutsch: hier )

The guidelines of the German organic farming associations are stricter than the EU legislation on organic farming in some points (says Most of the market chains have their own bio label, this one on the left is from ALDI ( I did not know it was bio).

“I know a girl in Hessen who worked for a company that packs exclusively for Aldi and Lidl. The testing is fucking rigorous and the quality is heavily controlled.” (Bad Doggie from ToyTownGermany)

McDonald’s Beef in Germany is organic

Someone in France on the Fool’s Day made a joke about McDonalds going organic, while Germans are pretty serious about it.

In the presence of minister Renate Künast, McDonald’s has signed an agreement with organic farmers(2001). Now the “Qualitätsfleischerzeugergemeinschaft Weidehof” in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
belongs to the list of official suppliers to the well- known fast food restaurant chain. Full article in German can be read HERE 


I found two type of tests (for food and everything else): Warentest and  ÖKO-TEST

Warentest was established in 1964 after the decision of the German Bundestag to offer consumers comparative testing of products and services through an independent and objective support.

  • We buy – anonymously
  • We test – using scientific methods in independent institutes according to our specifications.
  • We rate – from “very good” to “poor”, exclusively on the basis of examination results objectified.
  • We publish – free display test in our magazines and financial test and online at

Recently for the misusage of the Warentest label on the mattresses, LIDL had to pay €25,000. 

You have seen their label in Rossmann and Kaiser’s. It’s just a quality test, when the EOKO-TEST is the ecological test, which existed now for over 25 years. OEKO-TEST works only with specialized laboratories, which have proven their qualifications for the testing through the appropriate approval (accreditation).

EOKO-TEST also publishes their results and especially the violations. See the full list of label violations HERE. In case of breaking the law it asks companies to donate between a few hundreds and a few thousands to the Green associations in Germany. Both testing companies put a date of the label issue, and it is valid until the product is changed.

BIO labels in cosmetics

With cosmetics being bio/organic, they have different from food labels. Most common ones I found are:

Bio Cosmetics' labels

Bio Cosmetics’ labels

I started using only organic cosmetics after I read an article a year ago, which counted the terrifying amount of chemicals a woman puts on herself every day. Even though it is very hard to prove what exactly causes cancer and allergies I decided to switch in order to stress my body less.

I use mostly cheapest companies like: Alverde, BIO Belle and Sante. Now the last thing for my birthday will be the bio parfume, which also lasts up to 6h and costs no less and no more than the regular parfumes from famous companies.

Even my toothpaste after 27 years is bio and without fluoride.

Like so many everyday substances that have been found to be toxic, fluoride has its roots in World War II research into weapons of mass destruction. Massive quantities of fluoride were essential for the manufacture of bomb-grade uranium and plutonium for nuclear weapons throughout the Cold War.

Post-WWII, fluoride was a popular form of rat poison. However, as fluoride production began to greatly outstrip its use as a rodenticide, scientists were spurred on by industry and the government to find other uses for it.

Today, fluoride is routinely added to the water supply of around 10% of the UK population (though this figure is set to rise) and more than 60% of the US population. These figures are in stark contrast to the 98% of Western Europe that has rejected fluoridation on the grounds that it does not work and that it is morally reprehensible to forcibly medicate whole populations of people.

There are significant differences between naturally occurring calcium fluoride and what is essentially industrial waste – namely, hydrofluorosilicic acid, a byproduct of the phosphate-fertiliser industry – added to our water, and known to contain human carcinogens in a toxic mix of arsenic, beryllium, lead, cadmium, mercury, silicon and other major contaminants, including radioactive polonium.

While most of us have been taught that fluoride protects teeth, research does not bear this out. Most studies into the benefits of fluoride are based on calcium fluoride rather than the more toxic form that is added to our water supply. (

In addition, several review papers have attested to the fact that dental decay does not increase when communities stop fluoridation.

“Generally, in Germany fluoridation of drinking water is forbidden. The relevant German
law allows exceptions to the fluoridation ban on application. The argumentation of the
Federal Ministry of Health against a general permission of fluoridation of drinking water
is the problematic nature of compuls[ory] medication.” (Gerda Hankel-Khan, Embassy of
Federal Republic of Germany, September 16, 1999).

Eco cleaning

The bigger the company the more likely it will cheat. There are several cleaning supplies’ companies available in Germany, one of them is pretty famous also outside the country – Ecover. It is interesting, but Ecover WC cleaning I have at home now does not have the eco label, it only has the label saying “The green bottle”, which means good for recycling, but about what’s in the bottle?

According to, Ecover commissioned an independent investigation into 15 washing products that currently carry the label. 13 did not meet the European Commission’s criteria. (read full article HERE

From my personal experience the best on the market seems to be Sodasan, it smells extremely well and carries all the eco labels. It is also significantly more expensive than Ecover.

Bio box

Image taken from

There are several farmers’ associations, which offer fresh bio boxes of fruits and vegetables just picked from the fields. They will usually offer you the best quality (because they have to follow extremely strict guidelines), for a reasonable price between 14 and 30 euros. They deliver everywhere in Germany. There are 46 Bio Box companies, but only ten received 5 start rating.


Dirks Bio-Kiste
Dirk Agena, 69256 Mauer

Armin und Silke Lucht, 09212 Limbach Oberfrohna OT Uhlsdorf

Die rollende Gemüsekiste
Herrmann Haas-Hübsch, 86444 Gebenhofen

Hof Engelhardt Ökokiste
Hartmut Engelhardt, 74547 Untermünkheim

Bioland Gemüsehof Hörz
Die Grüne Kiste, 70794 Filderstadt

Bioland Gärtnerei Hüsgen
Rita und Till Hüsgen, 53773 Hennef-Süchterscheid

Hofgut Letten Vertriebs GmbH
Beate Mayer, 83670 Bad Heilbrunn

Martinshof Biobus GmbH
Gerhard Kempf, 66606 St. Wendel-Osterbrücken

Rengoldshauser Hof GmbH
Geert Neyrinck, 88662 Überlingen

Naturgarten Schönegge
Erhard und Horst Schönegge, 85405 Nandlstadt

To find a bio box in your region use this website:

Lines and numbers on the products

In school a chemistry teacher told us that the lines on the toothpaste indicate the quality: black being the worst and red – being the best. No surprise, I thought, I never saw the red line in Latvia, thinking we get only law quality toothpastes. But today I found out that it is actually not true. In reality, these are merely marks used in the printing process. They are referred to as “eye marks” and read by a sensor in the manufacturing process in order to detect and align squeeze tubes.Typically, the color of the square is also a color of something else being printed on that side of the tube.

However, there are numbers on eggs, which indicate the quality. If the long code begins with 0 – it is fully organic, when 1- free range, 2 – don’t buy. And guess what, I have the twos…

Egg number decoding system

Organic studies

However there is no study which would show that people who eat organic are more healthier and those who don’t – experience health problems. Wiki actually says there is no difference for the organism, as the study could not prove that there is. Some people buy organic tomatos just because they taste better in comparison to cheap hybrids.

Although it has not been scientifically proved yet that these products are healthier than the ones produced with normal techniques, it is believed that the more natural a product is grown and the fewer chemicals it was exposed to, the better it is for our health. (

All in all it’s a debatable question how much better our lives are with organic products, however putting chemicals down my body I do not feel indifferent, and when the cost between a bio a non-bio product is not that high, my choice will be organic. Plus, a bio apple will always taste better.

Image found on Wiki Commons

Image found on Wiki Commons

Living in Berlin you often ask yourself – where to go and what to see? It’s a huge city with a breathtaking history, old impressive buildings, world wide famous graffiti, modern hotels and restaurants, great markets and designer shops. Every district has it’s own story, way of living and an atmosphere. I love discovering Berlin step by step, opening new places and facts each month. It is not enough just to know the district you’re living in. I want to live the city.

Apart from the famous Spreepark and Teufelsberg there are many other places worth your time. For example an old Olympic Stadion, The Ball House in Grünau, even the Victory Column, which offers a 3-euro trip upstairs and the dark tunnels with screens that react on your body movement with many small light spots. Some metro stations have amazing stories behind them and are pretty atmospheric for photographs.

Recently I found a great source of information, which will be useful to both: visitors and locals. It offers a wide range of places for all kind of purposes: exhibitions, clubs, abandoned and historical buildings, cafes, restaurants, designer shops, hotels and so on. The page is in German and is called  Geheimtipp Berlin.  The Facebook page was started only in August 2013, and already has 21 thousand followers, which is a good indicator for quality.

For example, thanks to this page I read about a very interesting hotel: Arte Luise Kunsthotel. Each room is a like a piece of art (see here). My favorite one is the 20s cabaret room. The website allows 360 degrees view which is a great way to study all the details.

I suggest you follow the page to discover new places whether you visit or live in Berlin. Another page I find very informative – is Slow Travel Berlin. They offer big serious write-ups on various topics, often bent to the past. They also have a What’s ON section for each week; if you have an event you want to share, Slow Travel Berlin will be happy to hear from you.

All rights reserved by Jürgen Bürgin.

Stasi prison. Image taken from:

This weekend, 7-8 September, is the Tag des offenen Denkmals in Berlin. 900 Programme spots will be open for visitors to see the history of Berlin.

Explore the former Olympic stadium area where Hitler held his infamous 1939 Olympics, Stasi Prison, abandoned spy station TeufelsbergLangemarckhalle (which contains 12 pillars bearing the 76 flags of the regiments that took part in World War I), and other NAZI and GDR sites.


Programm and a great map can be found on official website:

The English team giving the Nazi salute. May 14, 1938, Berlin Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium 1936, East Gate. From the article:

Kim Gordon. Image taken from:

After Sonic Youth split there is no way Kim Gordon, Thurston More or Lee Ronaldo would stay outside of the music scene. As a result, all of them just continued their solo career.

She has taken part in many  side-projects, notably with DJ Olive and in the -pop girl band Free Kitten. She is currently in a duo called Body/Head. They will play in Berlin on

November the 5th

@ Bi Nuu

Berlin, Germany


The myth about interns making only coffee is in the past. It is time to clear the things up, as there is no doubt – internship has become a new form of public crime and this is a global problem and not a few capitals issue. I will be speaking from a personal and friends’ experience, also summarizing recent case studies in London and New York. For those who are currently interning or thinking of having an internship I will provide a list of organisations, which should help you to learn more about your rights.

September the 24th, 11:00am

Berlin, Germany

Social Media Week Berlin 

I will give a speech

on Unfair Internships

More info:

Facebook Page: Berlin Internship Justice


I had 10 internships in my life, each one of them was an experience (because even bad experience is an experience), however some of them were certainly breaking the human and labor rights, and this is something I am going to tell you here. And yes, I have always clearly known what I wanted and what my expectations are. I have three degrees, I’ve graduated with the highest marks and have a great work experience from volunteering. I have always had excellent performance, and these are not my words, but the written words of the employers in the recommendation letters.

There are many general articles about unpaid internships being illegal (mainly American, English and Canadian), which already shows that the problem is noticeably big; especially the fact that pages like Monster have forbidden unpaid internship offers or the fact that 9 British companies have been forced to pay out almost £200,000 to interns who were required to work without payment, after an investigation by Revenue & Customs. Yet there are not so many case studies, or interns speaking themselves (or let’s say noticeably fewer). And the main reason is – we are scared to be blacklisted, but many of us still think it is the system and in cities like London, New York and Berlin this is a part of the education and is a “must”.

What is internship?

In one sentence – it is an educational process which is usually taken during the studies or right after the graduation, in order to help young people gain real work experience putting their theoretical knowledge into practice. Initially the length was from 1 up to 3 summer months. And as American law says the intern has to benefit from it and not vise versa; when the employer benefits from an intern – he has to pay.

But far before that, internships were referred only to medical students, who did paid internships, but it was truly unpleasant work.

An image created by

Alexander Augustus & The Bite Back Movement –

My case

My first 5 internships were during my studies in Latvia, and helped me, the young and unexperienced, damn a lot. I am truly thankful to LKK for throwing us into the real world. Each internship was only a month long (the perfect length, in comparison to 6 months they insist on now), and it was enough to learn about the organisation itself, get involved into a current project and fulfill the tasks for which you were marked later in school. I was not paid, but I had a chance to enjoy cultural events for free, meet famous musicians and build connections and I did not feel used or exploited.

In the UK, where I moved in 2008, studies were less time consuming, i worked over 20h a week in a photographic shop, where I was paid tiny bit over the minimum wage, at the same time I was also involved in to the City Festival, that I photographed and ran an art event for. During my last year of studies I started looking for jobs in London. And i’ve noticed internship offers up to 12-18 months unpaid. I did not worry much, simply because I was not going into the question. Later I decided to move to Berlin where I faced the problem for real. At first I was thinking: – 3 months of free/low paid internship and then I am in, but the truth was different…

  • Bad example

The last company I worked for was paying thousands of euro for the office cleaning. So, basically cleaning the space I was sitting at would have made me earn easily over the material minimum, but instead i choice to boost my CV and got paid €300/m doing marketing, which was lower than any other intern. Oh, a little mistake they would say later.

The saddest internship was when I was taken for a position my boss did not know anything about himself. So, question: how was he suppose to teach me? I was explaining him instead.

Also, ironically they all say that you must work 40h a week in order to unite with the team and get good results, as you’ll be an important part of the chain. And then you sit 8h on the computer doing nothing, even Facebook bores you. Waste of time: – was my conclusion. Learned nothing, but got a great reference. Oh, those references, I have tons of them. They help no one.

My naive hopes to reach the full employment banged against the wall at least 3 times…

  • Good example

When I just moved to Berlin I needed a quick integration, so I took an unpaid internship with ArtConnect Berlin, a platforms for creatives in Berlin. In the beginning it was a non-profit making organisation, and even the founder was working for free. She never insisted on 40h, and was keeping it to flexible 20, so that I could also work in a restaurant. She taught me WordPress and as a result this blog was born. When the first money came through, they were all honestly split.

Other case studies

While in Berlin this is an extremely difficult situation, because it is the mecca of startups and the absence of minimum wage makes everything much more complicated, America and England started the action against unpaid internships, simply because it’s illegal.

Since the victory two weeks ago in a lawsuit brought by unpaid interns against Fox Searchlight Pictures (Black Swan to be exact), three suits have been filed challenging the legality of unpaid internships. The complaints against Condé Nast, Warner Music and Gawker Media are the latest in a rising tide of lawsuits brought by unpaid interns, many of which are still in progress.

 Stephen Suen, ProPublica (full article)

This month marks the 75th anniversary of the US Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which set the first federal minimum wage, created overtime protections and the five-day workweek, and virtually ended child labor in the United States. We should celebrate its legacy by giving all young people paying jobs instead of worthless lines on their resumes.

 Ross Eisenbrey

The coffee myth
Would I like to be paid a minimum wage for making coffee all day? If I did, I’d find a job in a cafe. Making good coffee could be important if this is an internship at the coffee factory, but working in the office I want a teaching process which is relevant to my studies. However employers are not interested only in coffee making; they quickly understand that a young flesh could also be used for calls, sales, orders, PR, marketing, business, design, documents, calculations, well pretty much everything. Let’s boost the business with a young energetic spirit. The companies looking for interns now have longer lists of requirements, because when you want one person to do everything, he/she can not be just a college graduate who only worked before as a packer in a super market. An internship for the experienced? No, thanks.

Family Support

I am 28, I am the only child, I don’t have a father, my mum is an accountant in Latvia, where wages are ridiculous. And even if she could support me financially, she’d avoid it to the last minute. From the age of 18 she made me leave the country and build a career. 8 years later as an intern I am paid 3 times less than for selling goods in a shop when I was 20. I am forced to work overtime, late evenings and weekends, so are my friends who took un(der)paid internships.

My rent in Berlin is €270. When I was paid €400, I left with €130 for the rest of the month. I cycle until it snows, and then I am forced to get a monthly travel card for €75. So, there is no way I could survive on this money without extra income.

Those taking fully unpaid internships can not pull living outside of parents house, even if they work during the weekend. This violates human rights, and excludes students with jobless parents. These students are forced to postpone career and work in shops, bars or similar places.

Where exactly is the problem?

1. Internships became longer (from 3 up to 18 months)
2. Mostly full time (no flexible hours)
3. Remain being un(der)paid
4. Non-educational but employee-replacing (and this is illegal!)
5. Exclude those from poor families (postpone their careers)
6. Internships which don’t exploit or teach, ask to make a coffee (there are not many of those, but still..)
7. Stop graduates from paying back their tuition fees
8. It’s not enough with just one internship
9. Un(der)paid interns aren’t protected by health and safety laws.
10. Their intellectual property goes to the employer.
11. Unpaid interns don’t receive a pension scheme.
12. There is an enormous gap between the internships and professional jobs. Millions of junior positions have vanished from the market.

Internships are almost impossible to avoid. That’s why a question “Who forces you taking those internships?” is no longer relevant. Firstly many more universities force students to take internships and secondly without experience you cannot get far, and since the junior positions can be counted on fingers, for many of us internship is the only way to go.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S., more than 1.1 million secretaries vanished from the job market between 2000 and 2010.

What are we talking about if even White House and European Parliament have unpaid interns?


Of course, the law varies from country to country; Germany for example is too loose at the moment about the interns’ rights and this is what minimizes the acuteness of the problem. So, what is illegal in America is most likely legal in Germany. There is no clear guidance in Germany, which would help intern to choose the right company. New York and London have been taking care of this question very seriously for quite a while now, and I will list their solutions in the end of this article.

“I have heard employers say that they just love their unpaid interns because they see them as free employees,” said Charles Lamberton, president of the Pittsburgh-based Lamberton law firm who represents plaintiffs in employment disputes and other civil rights cases.

In France for example, the law says if the unpaid intern is in the company longer than two months, he has to be paid. And the number of interns per office is also regulated by law.

Company’s Size

Should we only blame big companies? Should we close eyes on the startups? I don’t think so. The unhealthy business model creates unhealthy conditions inside the company; and the first ones to suffer are interns.

I have been inside both of those higher mentioned. And the true answer to this is: that young companies who have to work extreme hours in order to achieve their first goals need full experts and not interns (as startups ONLY use interns for their profit; if there is an acception, please let me know!), whose performance is  less effective. It is very important for a startup to get first good, professional impression, and if the intern (who’s mostly never controlled by anyone) does a mistake on a social platform, which is recognized by someone big it can cause the company much bigger lose than 300 euros a month.

Can’t plan the budget, don’t start the business!

Besides there are young professionals without 5-10 years of experience, who’d rather do it for a slightly over a minimum wage pay rate instead of taking another internship and hope that it will lead to a full employment.

In case of a  big company it is simply effrontery:

At Bank of America in London, an intern died after working 72 hours straight. (Read full story HERE)

Sheryl Sandberg made $91 million last week, the same week her Lean In organization was searching for an unpaid intern. (Read full article HERE)

An unpaid internship is a great thing for a person who is still in school, as long as they get to observe a lot and work only a little. An unpaid internship for a graduate is a violation of labor laws. (Steven Craig Wood)

Our students are so paranoid about putting a famous company’s name on our resume that we end up not seeing the bigger picture. (Anjita Chowdhury. Read full article about internship scenario in India HERE )

The BFI has been accused of using unpaid interns to fill the gap after it axed nearly a 5th of its workforce. (You can sign the petition against it HERE)


Psychological preassure

How do I pay tuition fees when i work for free? I never had guts to ask the employer how he thinks I am living on €300/400 a month. The fact is the entrepreneurs do not waste time on such questions, they have more difficult tasks in their lives, like for example pleasing the investors.

A useful tool turned into a trap. Now many employers simply take an advantage. The number of unfair internships will vary from country to country, even from city to city; and there is no summarized data by countries. Brussels, the heart of EU, is not better than London or Berlin; July 17th 2013 there was an intern protest against unfair internships. 

When Alex Godson accepted his first unpaid internship in Brussels after receiving a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Manchester, he believed a full-time position was just a few months away. (The Globe and Mail: read full article HERE ) 

But the approximate picture has been visualised by Intern Aware in the following infographic.

An infographic created by Intern Aware

An infographic created by Intern Aware

What can we do? What are the solutions?

Since I am talking here globally, there is no one simple answer. But I would like to point out several organisations and pages which take care of intern rights.

The UK:

1. Intern Aware

Share your experience, they can help you claim the money, if your internship was unfair.

2. Graduate Fog

Interns’ rights campaigner and author of How to Get a Graduate Job in a Recession.

Intern Aware

Intern Aware

The USA 

1.  Ex Intern

A critical look at un(der)paid jobs called internships

2. Unpaid is Unfair

Unpaid internships are unfair. The United Nations should be no exception. Please sign our petition and tell the UN that young people matter.


The Student Labor Action Project (SLAP) engages students in economic justice campaigns.

4. Interns ≠ Free Labor

Working to end #wagetheft guised as #unpaidinternships. Law student & Public Interest Fellow at Georgetown. • Contact: eric.glatt[at]gmail

5. Intern Labor Rights

In this era of historic inequality, class divide, soaring student debt and persistent unemployment we call for an end to unpaid internships: Pay your interns!

6. Intern X Twitter: @InternX

My mother got a pregnancy internship. As a result, I was born as the first baby-intern in the world. Still interning, at 52. #workforCV

7. Intern Justice

Protecting the rights and wages of interns, workers, and college athletes. Pianko Law Group PLLC


1. Canadian Intern Association

The Canadian Intern Association advocates against the exploitation of interns and aims to improve the internship experience for both interns and employers. Visit our website at

internships by wes and tony


1. Internship Black List

Informal network of concerned citizens aiming to take social action to end the illegal exploitation of unpaid interns in the Brussels EU Bubble.


1. Plattform Generation Praktikum

Ein weiteres Anliegen ist uns das sammeln von Erfahrungsberichten.

2. Planet Praktika

Know your rights in Germany.

3. GPA-djp Jugend

Die “Gewerkschaft der Privatangestellten, Druck Journalismus und Papier” (kurz GPA-djp) vertritt Angestellte, JournalistInnen, Lehrlinge, Studierende, SchülerInnen, A-Typisch Beschäftigte und Zivil- und Präsenzdiener. Mit fast dreihunderttausend Mitgliedern ist die GPA-djp die größte Teilgewerkschaft Österreichs und damit ein wichtiger politischer Akteur.


1. HIA

HIA is an association of interns working at UN-related and intergov’t orgs in The Hague. We work to improve intern welfare & promote intern rights.

1. Quality Internship
On this website you can find the European Quality Charter on Internships and Apprenticeships that lays basic quality principles for internships and apprenticeships to become a valuable and quality experience across Europe.
2. InternsGoPro
Let’s build the quality database on companies in the EU together! (this one is highly recommended)

We have to reach for those who can affect the law, internships should be fixed to one month, and during the studies. Internship can be unpaid, but never exceeding 2 months. When exceeding 2 months should provide a National Minimum. Universities should explain students the definition of the internship and their rights. 

If you are from Germany or Berlin in particular and you feel my pain, join this Facebook page to unite

Here is the updated Power Point Presentation on Internship Culture in Berlin: KNOW YOUR RIGHTS! 


Presented by Mindpirates

Film footage, photographs, audio recordings, text and interviews with participants will engage a dialogue about utopias, gatherings, dreams and the profound ambiguity inherent in the relationship between humans and nature. The exhibition and the concurrent two-week program of concerts, musical jams, art performances, readings and talks will reflect on the experiment and its connected themes. Mindpirates humbly invite the participants to revisit the event a year on, and welcome those who weren’t present to get a picture of the odyssey.


The Lovers set out to create a transformational happening: on August 25th and 26th, 2012, 400 participants came together on an idyllic island of perfect nature outside of Berlin for an ambitious musical jam session, uniting 100 international musicians and running non-stop for twenty-four hours.

The artist collective Mindpirates conceptualized and brought to life The Lovers. They conceived it as “a search and experiment to evoke love and human gratitude among each other and towards the universe”.

The invitation to The Lovers promised an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience. On site, the event morphed into a cathartic tempest, a caged whirlwind of both love and hate, epiphany and confusion. Many left before it was over, while others wanted for it to never end. A year on, some remember The Lovers with passionate fondness and still struggle to find words to describe it, while for others the dream had turned nightmarish and left a bitter feeling.

Don’t miss this rich flavoured 2 week-long event from Mindpirates, Opening August the 15th, 18:00:

Poetry of the Absurd — Odyssey of the Lovers opening night

Full Programme:

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