We've heard horror stories of people on work experience shopping for an account team, 'sorting clothes', cleaning the office or having nothing to do ('they just wanted me around in case they had a menial job').
We've also heard that over summer, certain large agencies filled every spare desk with eager grads looking for work experience. It sounded rather like a sweatshop.
One agency rather dehumanisingly referred to them as 'WEs'. The worst case we found was a very talented recent graduate working at executive level in London for several months, for long hours and unpaid. A job offer was the ever-elusive carrot.
Notably, all of the bad experiences we've heard about involved big agencies.
Ellie Petch, recruitment and business development, Parker, Wayne & Kent