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Is This Barclays' Intern Scheme an abuse of human rights?


David Cameron was returned to power on a promise to rid Great Britain of that pesky Human Rights act, but over at Barclays Bank it seems they dispensed with it long ago.

An astonishing leaked email, published by the Wall Street Journal, provides a terrifying glimpse into the working lives of those students who sign up for one the investment bank's summer intern schemes, which are common throughout the industry as a testing ground for those hoping to enter the lucrative world of finance.

It's widely accepted that these nine-week stints are competitive and hard, but the email, sent by second-year analyst Justin Kwan, who works in Barclays' Wall Street Global Power & Ulitities group, spells out in detail the levels of degradation that candidates, readying themselves to begin this summer, are expected to endure. And even worse - suggests that it's completely acceptable. Frankly, The Hunger Games sounds like a bit of a laugh compared to this.

Kwan, who gives a taste of what to expect with the title 'Welcome to the Jungle', lays out his '10 Power Commandments', which his young underlings are encouraged - no, obligated - to follow.

Included are gems like: 

'It is much appreciated if you would bring breakfast in for your respective mentor'

Because obviously being an intern isn't financially crippling enough as it is.

'have a spare scarf/tie or two around for associates to use as napkins, should they run out.'

Like an actual servant. 

And our favourite (if you can even call it that):

'Never take your jacket off at work. This is investment banking, ladies and gentleman.'

God forbid reacting appropriately to consistently fluctuating weather conditions.

The slaves - sorry, interns - are also told: 'we expect you to be the last ones to leave every night...no matter what.' 

In some cases, you won't ever leave, something Justin helpfully points out with another rule stating: 'Bring a pillow to the office, it makes sleeping under your desk a lot more comfortable, in the very likely scenario that you have to do that'.

You. Won't. Ever. Leave. Did you read that? It's like Hotel California, but five thousand times worse and with zero feasts or ghost orgies.

Although we'll give Justin his due for showing empathy. Or at least attempting to understand the concept of it when he regales the group with a cheery tale of his summer as an intern, when a fellow worker asked for a weekend off for a family reunion.

"He was told he could go. He was also asked to hand in his blackberry and pack up his desk."

Justin fails to reveal what happened to this poor unfortunate soul but we're willing to bet he'll end up living a happier, more fulfilling life because of it.

If that isn't obnoxious enough for you, the email signs off by saying that there are a number of typos, and that the first person to email back with three of them 'is off to a GREAT start!'

For their part, Barclays responded in a statement that the email “was in no way authorized by Barclays. Barclays is fully committed to creating an environment where both our bankers and our business can thrive.  We have implemented policies and training guidelines to enable employees to gain valuable experience while at the same time maintaining a healthy work-life balance.”

Which is nice.

With perfect timing, the email comes in the week that Guardian columnist George Monbiot implored his readers to avoid the evil clutches of investment banking - reading this, you have to think he's got a point. 

You can read the whole, glorious email below - click to enlarge.

(Image: Rex)



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