This picture is from Thursday’s Craigslist NYC job board for architects and engineers. Every single highlighted internship position shown, is listed as unpaid. This is dangerous ground.
Simply; do you need an internship to get co-op hours in order to graduate from your university? Legal. Need someone to get your coffee and build your models for free? Well back away from the keyboard my friend, that’s ILLEGAL.
Now I have been searching for a job for over three months, and have fielded several offers to work in a “volunteer” capacity. However in my case I was prepared by my professor Tom Spector at OSU with the knowledge that this illegal practice exists, and that NCARB does NOT issue IDP training units for uncompensated work. Needless to say I politely declined.
So I’m pissed for a couple of reasons. First, architecture firms are deliberately misleading vulnerable architecture graduates who are desperate to get a foot in the door. There is a lot of confusion on the distinction between legal and illegal hiring situations outlined above, and firms are using this uncertainty to their advantage. Come on people, I know “times are tough” and all, but realistically, if you have the resources where you need the work of an intern, that work should be compensated!
Second, it is my peers who are allowing this disturbing practice to continue. We are complacent in this as well, by agreeing to do work that puts us at both a financial AND professional disadvantage. It devalues the work that we do, and it devalues us as individuals. If someone is working for free, there isn’t much of a dilemma for the principals when they have to let someone go. You become the most insignificant, overworked, and least-valued cog in the whole system. Have some pride in yourself!
So, for the readers of this blog at least, the buck stops here. You need to know that working for no compensation is illegal, and that illegal hiring practices are discouraged by the AIA and NCARB. Read up on the Fair Labor Act, be smart, be informed, and good luck getting hired. We’ll all need it. If you come across an ad that seem suspect, check with this excellent site first.