This article is concerned with the popular imaginaries associated with internships and unpaid labour and their implications for emerging subjectivities and the conceptualisations of work. It draws on a comparative analysis of three prime-time television series about young women’s experiences of their first entry in the world or work. By analysing the articulation of power relations between characters, and the imaginaries of work and success mobilised, the three series under examination (The Carries Diaries, Girls and 2 Broke Girls) reveal a normalisation of internships as a rite of passage for educated young women to enter the world of professional employment, articulated through different approaches to the issues of pedagogical, gender and labour relations. Their preemptive inherent critique of the official dual promise of internships as a learning experience and as a step towards paid employment is analysed in relation to recent critical attempts to counter-representations and free labour organising.
Keywords: Internship, unpaid labour, popular culture, TV series, young women, labour immaginary