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Should this even be allowed to be posted? Should this forum be utilized to undermine the profession and discipline? Isn't there a requirement in IDP that requires any "Intern" be paid in order to receive credit as an Intern?
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Mar 25, 11 | 2:30 pm
Rux Design seeking Intern in New York, NY
We are looking for a talented designer for an unpaid internship starting mid-April and ending June 30th. Within this period start and end dates are flexible as long as the intern can commit to at least one....
Unpaid internship are ILLEGAL. If an employer makes any profit from "free" internship, it is ILLEGAL. If a firm can't make a profit from paying an intern a janitor's salary, it shouldn't be in business.
You should be real proud of yourself Rux Design.
That's just stupid. Report them to the BBB.
i don't understand why archinect allows these sort of postings...
While the intern doesn't get paid for their work, Archinect does get paid for the job advertisement.
At least it keeps Archinect afloat so we can rant about unpaid internships!
Yeah, that "internship" sounds illegal - I'm thinking this is an oversight on Archinect's part.
Is it actually illegal in the US? In New Zealand i know of a firm who has 3 paid workers: 2 directors and an associate, plus 6-8 unpaid interns. I agree that there should be no such things as unpaid internships, but they will always exist because someone will inevitably take the position, a) in hopes of getting hired eventually and b) to get experience during downtimes, better than sitting doing nothing right
but yea, definitely should not be posted on this forum
Who can afford to work an unpaid internship? Honestly, whenever I hear of people doing that, it not only upsets me as someone who wants the integrity of the profession to be upheld, but it also makes me insanely jealous that someone can have mommy and daddy pay for their living expenses in an expensive city so that they can get "experience."
These things just re-confirm my pessimistic outlook that architecture is viewed by many as a luxury that is practiced by hobbyists and trust-fund babies. And it's mostly our fault for not convincing the public of the very real value, and the very necessary need for architects to have a strong voice on the design of today's cities. We've pissed away all of our authority on the topic and have accepted our role as stylists only accessible for the privileged few.
Well said, newguy.
Unfortunately, I'm even more pessimistic than you are and hold the belief that architecture reflects the values of a society. The most famous and influential architects are superb products of their time.
The people have decided, the market has decided, and it's up to us to translate those realities into something brilliant and tangible. Apparently. It is further more unfortunate that we are not living in a brilliant time in the states, hence the lack of demand for brilliant architecture.
What I am trying to say is that there are a lot of creative and excruciatingly talented architects/city planners out there that just won't get funded because there is no demand/interest for their works. Their work stays in academic limbo for the time being because of everyone else's stagnant minds.
I'm afraid I've gone a little off topic. Sorry. But I do think that whoever posted that ad should be ashamed of themselves and be subjected to some form of public humiliation other than this thread.
I'm one if the a*holes* who took a free internship out of school. And worked 60-90 hr weeks. and I did not have outside funding. (nor did about half of the interns, I believe). I chose to do it because I feared that school hadn't properly prepared me for the working world (which is still a concern of mine, for all people making the leap from student to professional).
Even shitty businesses can afford minimum wage. experience is valuable, but so is my time, and I still feel like an ass for contributing my free(!) labor to such a selfish establishment.
I feel like I give the advice of a recovering drugee: "don't do what I did do"
the dude's name is Russell Greenberg
this is his facebook page: [url=http://www.facebook.com/pages/RUX-Design/114838501413?sk=wall[/url]
this is his office contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-206-0977
i think a little verbal harrassment will coerce him to take the ad down from here and, possibly, coroflot
OK, but I have to weigh in here as Dan Savage: don't be a jerk about it. Don't "harass", inform.
Politely state that unpaid intern ships are illegal unless they follow the Department of Labor Wage and our Division Guidelines which can be found here.
Also, that if he's an architect in New York State the state architect's code of ethics, I think, specifically disallows unpaid labor, but I don't have time to find that one for citation.
An angry mob mentality isn't the way to change this, *especially* if we want to give our fellow professionals the benefit of the doubt that they mistakenly posted for unpaid labor and that they are not just douchebags. I prefer to give the benefit of the doubt.
i'll second Donna on this - mob mentality will probably just steel his resolve.
ACTUALLY *NOT* TAKING THE POSITION will actually (and hopefully) change his outlook.
Just don't do it, just ignore him and move on...
should have said "will hopefully (and may actually) change his outlook"
Asking for free services happens all the time, across every profession, spectrum, etc. Deciding to give in is up to you.
@Rasa - That is the same mentality that businesses use to rationalize their decision to exploit interns.
At least it's not "Anonymous seeking unpaid intern." Direct your hatemail to...email@example.com
My personal opinion on it is that if you are a Non-Profit, you can do unpaid internships (and depending on the mission, I would definitely do one). Anything for profit though, and its just not cool. Legally the internship has to be for college credit to be unpaid, anything else you have to pay. I turned down one with a well respected firm because they only wanted to do unpaid internships. Even if they provide a stipend, that is better than nothing.
I know the RIBA just mandated that all member firms must pay interns, AIA time for you to step up.
I'm really pleased to see that others thought this was as improper as I did. When I first read the listing, I had those little Yosemite Sam Steam Geysers shoot out of my ears. Rootin' Tootin' Dat Gum East Of the Pecos! But seeing others' comments lets me know that I'm not completely insane.
It's really astounding that, not only would someone actually exploit people and not pay them for their work, but that they would advertise for it on an international forum. I do think, that as someone said, at least they did include their firm's name and not simply list it as "Anonymous seeking...". It shows one many possible things: 1)They are completely ignorant that there is anything wrong with this. 2)They do know, but don't care that people know this is how they run their business... or 3) (fingers crossed) They meant to list the ad as "Paid Internship" and simply made a mistake.
But then this does allow the world to see that whoever this person is, they really don't have a great sense on how to run a business. Put yourself in the position of the client. If you're going to entrust someone with thousands to millions of your dollars to create a building, are you going to trust an "architect" who exploits the people who do the work on your project? I would think that from a client's perspective, an "architect" that would run their business like that would be just as likely to screw me and exploit me to line their pockets, rather than act professionally and operate honestly and on the level. This would be a dangerous person to hire.
It's good to see someone who actually took on such an experience offer some perspective. And that their perspective tends to reinforce the tenor of the outsiders argument. It's probably a very bitter lesson to learn. I would think that the only thing one could expect from an "Unpaid internship" would be a reference from the person that exploited them which said, "Yeah you can really roll over this one." Hopefully others can read some of this and avoid this type of experience.
One key problem this represents for me is that it's architects cannibalizing their own profession. If someone who runs an architectural business doesn't value the effort of people providing professional architectural services, why should anyone else?
Especially people in the general public (clients) who really have no idea whatsoever how much goes into the production of building design. Too many of the uneducated masses already believe in the "inspired genius" model of architectural practice where one minute there's a squiggle on a napkin and a week later they're taking the keys to the MeisterWerk and having pinky-pointing cocktail parties. People don't know how much effort is really involved, and many ALREADY don't want to pay a reasonable amount for the effort involved. When Architects put a value of $0.00 on architectural labor, that tells the entire world that's what it's worth. Thanks Rux Design.
Yes, people provide free services all the time, but it should be accounted for fiscally in some fashion. It should be considered "Advertising" or something else, something maybe where the business receives a Non-Profit Tax credit. And the free service "deal" should be made at the level of the Principal business owner (be it an architect or an electrician, or florist...), not the already underpaid "intern" level architect. It's tantamount to a McDonald's manager giving away free food and taking the cost of it out of the checks of the people calling back orders and poking at the cash registers.
In addition to this acting as a cancer to devalue the architectural service in the marketplace, it also presents a huge hurdle for the countless competent people in the profession who are presently receiving weekly checks from the good folks at the Unemployment Insurance Office. Why should a business owner hire someone for a genuine wage, when they can get people to produce free work for them?
One option that would cure this problem quite quickly would be to pass legislation that would make this a crime punishable by a fine and, more importantly, revocation of Registration and a right to practice. It could be a temporary revocation for a year or two. But an additional offense could make it permanent. If an "Architect" doesn't believe interns have a right to a livelihood, why should they have one?
Thanks to those who posted. I'm relieved to know that I'm not completely out of my mind.
Judging by the dates listed on the internship, I'm pretty sure this firm was advertising more towards students than anyone else.
We can blame firms who hire unpaid internships.
We can blame students who take unpaid internships.
We really need to blame firms who hire people based on experience earned in internships.Internships are fine for undergrad but no one with a bachelor's degree should honestly be working as an intern.
At this point, you're either an office worker or you're not. And if you've never, ever had a job doing anything under a drop ceiling or touching a keyboard... then perhaps an internship is for you.
Other than that, [male gaze]Russelll Greenberg is a total CUTIE-PATOOTIE[/male gaze].
"At RUX we [We specialize in nothing... that is what makes RUX capable of anything.] Especializing in slave labor.
rux is not really an architecture office. they are a hybridish product design company that seems to have some architecture possibly going on. maybe we should be lamenting the end of product design business instead of end of archtiecture...
just to put in perspective its like a month and its for a student obviously. sure they should pay min wage. to be the advocate for the devil, internships are not as one-sided as always talked about here. taking someone without a clue and teaching them to become productive enough to get a full-time job some day is not all on the bad side of the ledger.
speaking for myself, paying a wee bit to be that teacher perhaps rankles some but if its min wage shouldn't be all that painful.
Personally, I don't care if it's a student internship or not. Unless they receive school credit, they should be paid monetarily. Tuition rises while pay sinks... ridiculous.
Well put, Menona. And good idea, actually. I wonder what Rux would think if somebody forwarded this ad to their client list with the heading, "See what Rux thinks of the quality of its employees".
If you can't pay people who work for you...then maybe you aren't ready to have your own office.
So, I'll play devil's advocate on this one: let's say the firm that touched off this post needed help for a competition they've been invited to. An unpaid competition but one which could land a significant commission and prestige if they win.
Like most small firms, they don't have scads of cash laying around to hire 3 people for a month on something that's not billable. And they've got to keep their 3 billable people on projects that, um, keep the office open.
What does this owner do? If he lays it out upfront, to prospective competition people, that this will be unpaid because he (truly) doesn't have the float to cover it, is that wrong? If he offers to pay them on the backside, if he wins, is that wrong? If he offers to hire them to do the work if they win, is that wrong?
Lots of people, in lots of businesses give away 'something' to attract people to use their firm. And yes, it's marketing. But marketing for Perkins + Will is a very different matter than marketing for a 2 person firm. How is the latter ever to compete if he can't find some way to control the costs of marketing? (and don't even extend this to a competition - let's just say it's an in-depth marketing proposal). Are you trying to kill the little guy?
Devil rests his case.
People are taking all of this the wrong way, imho. Making 7.50/hr or making nothing is barely a difference when it is for a short period of time (that's what I started at). I did turn down unpaid, simply out of spite (but not much real practicality to it). That was my choice, who offered me unpaid I didn't care or complain about, just politely declined (it was someone that rhymes with 'toss' ;-) )
People need to look at the overall problems and how to solve things. To me, this is a very minor issue compared to the lack of compensation at the upper end. If a talented architect/designer could make $150k in a few years, then working for nothing to start is irrelevant. But that's not the case, so I guess counting the pennies at the start are what people want to focus on. But to me, it is like 'tripping over a dollar to pick up a nickel'.
The business world is changing. I have clients that hire on a 'success' basis. That means no one gets paid until the project is successful (not necessarily building, could be buying/selling products/projects/businesses). That can take years. Not everyone can afford to play that game, but everyone that does knows they will not make a penny until everyone does, then, at that point, they share in the profits.
That's how things will go. No risk for people to take on larger things, like a competition (as GW points out). People will simply stop doing competitions if it doesn't return something to their businesses. There were firms that allowed for 'volunteer' time for competition purposes, kinda the win/win scenario, but no one got paid.
My point being that there are bigger issues here. The payoff at the end is what is the big problem. That's where the real dollars are missing. And, if everyone knows the game going in, I see no reason why a 'success' fee-based models won't continue to grow in popularity, particularly when financing is near impossible (certainly no firm would get financing to enter a competition, even if they had a 50% of winning).
two things; if this douche isn't aia, then aia has nothing to say in this conversation. second, if this douche is entering an unpaid competition, although i'm not sure which competitions are paid, then he needs to do some kind of cost benefit analysis to determine whether or not entering makes sense. he should not hire, whoops, enslave people with the promise of $$ if he gets the job. besides, how is the nature of competition any different than an RFP; no one is guaranteed anything in either case.
the guy is a fucking tool.
and i'll say it; who is it that supports archinect? you? me? or these fucking douche nozzles, that come here, because they know the talent pool is here?
RUX = douche baggery in its highest form.
On the competition scenario: you hire the helper as a contract worker for a fee that's affordable to the firm but not completely abusive of the worker. Hiring someone for a competition would fit the legal definition of contract work: they have one specific discreet project to complete, in a given timeframe but not requiring set hours. Most likely the worker would be working in the office on the office's equipment, which doesn't really fit contract work definition, but for something as clearly defined as a competition it's probably fine. The worker can't do ANY other work in the office: no answering phones, or fetching coffee, or helping out with redlines on a job that's due today.
trace I hear your logic about the success-based model except that the reality is the firm owner, who takes on the most risk, gets a huge payoff and the worker gets not much. It's a bigger risk for the firm owner if s/he is PAYING his/her workers in doing the work, but in that case the potential win is also bigger, and the workers, who have little potential of a BIG win, at least don't lose entirely.
On top of all of this there's also the small (huge) matter that an unpaid job can't be counted towards IDP credits, so why would an intern who is required to complete internships take a job that won't count as one?
Menona, excellent post, and glad you're here.
DS - it just comes down to understanding the pros/cons going in. Back to the education, where most people coming out of arch school are clueless and just desperate for anything. Naive, more or less, and hungry.
Success-based scenarios only work if those entering it can #1 afford to work for nothing until the payoff, possibly risking everything and #2 they negotiate what the payoff is (getting 'paid' normal wages kinda negates the point).
But not many young folk are going to do that, not to mention the contractual arrangements that have to go in place for security.
The person taking the big risk should be the one that gets the payoff, that's how it all works. The success-based model is based off of sharing the risk, sharing the profits (still the lower you are on the pole, the less you benefit, of course).
That's the choice of the individual whether they want to risk everything. If they don't risk anything (and got paid along the way), then they aren't going to share in the rewards (beyond something minimal). That's fair.
To me, it all comes back to education. I didn't accept that unpaid internship because my pride just wouldn't allow it (that, and I did need some drinking money! ;-) ).
There are pros/cons to things and understanding how those impact you personally is important.
Now, as for IDP, that's just another festering wound in all this, no?
Festering wound, indeed. And yes, the youngster coming out of school is not likely, on average, to understand the risk scenarios that a business owner has worked at for years and is willing to take.
It's strange that as a teacher I'm willing to be too tough (so I've heard) on grading, expecting professionalism in assignments and classroom behavior, etc., yet when it comes to entering the workforce I just think we need to be aware that lots of young interns have *no* experience and think free labor truly is just part of how things are done. I'm for being tough on students and easy on new grads - it's a tough transition.
i think way too much is made of the fact that architects coming out of school have little/no experience or professional skills. this is true for any field/profession, even at the lowest end. all jobs require some sort of training, and most industries recognize this. and even mcdonalds PAYS you for the time it takes you to learn their cash register system or their breakfast grill protocol.
what is learned in school is always a vague approximation.
the fact that architects expect kids out of school to be instantly deployable as professional workers is just a nonsense excuse for underpaying young workers.
i'll give my own work experience as an example of why i continue to disagree with those posters on this thread who advocate for some sort of 'practice-based' educational system. i challenge anyone to tell me what kind of technical/practical education would have prepared me for any/all of these jobs:
job 1. - restoration firm - rehabbing of very specific, northeastern building types
job 2. - large corporate firm -- office and mixed-use towers
job 3. - very high-end interiors (park ave. society ladies and the occasional celebrity apartment) mostly fancy lighting coves and crestron systems.
job 4. - local law 11 work. if you don't know what it is, it's very technical and very boring.
job 5. large corporate firm, including $2b large office tower w/very sophisticated anti-terrorism reqs.
job 6. large corporate firm again. foreign work.
job 7. work for self - single-family residential.
according to the logic these firms use to justify their hiring of unpaid interns, i probably should have done a few months unpaid at each of these places to 'learn the ropes'...
@greg walker: What does this owner do? If he lays it out upfront, to prospective competition people, that this will be unpaid because he (truly) doesn't have the float to cover it, is that wrong? If he offers to pay them on the backside, if he wins, is that wrong? If he offers to hire them to do the work if they win, is that wrong?
yes, it's wrong. you've just asked this "intern" to be an investor in this project - and if they knew what they were doing would be negotiating a % of profit and a share of control over the project if you do win. if you don't want this, then you f-ing pay them - or I guess find some other gullible kid you can take advantage of.
what trace is talking about is that he's a partner in this process - he's knowingly taking on risk in order to gain a chunk of the profit or a future leg-up on other projects. the difference is that as an owner you are consciously taking on these chances at the payoff. interns are typically NOT in this position, mostly because they can't afford it at this point in their careers.
what I've never liked is that some firm owners seem to think they're doing youngsters a favor by forcing them to take on risk - but if they have absolutely no clue what they're getting into then you're knowingly taking advantage of their inexperience and naivety. this is both unethical and in many cases illegal.
IMO - art of negotiation and risk management should be taught in pro-practice courses (among other things - i have a lot of thoughts on this, but maybe some other time) - but still, if you don't have a financial safety net and/or confidence that you can rebound after going without pay for a period of time, then the model of unpaid internships excludes a large group of recent grads - and the reason the law exists is because it gives a certain group of people an unfair advantage over the rest of us. This is why we constantly whine about trust-fund kids - they can take on more risk much earlier.
On a side note. I listen daily to talk- and news radio. Ironically at every daily panel discussion, at least on lawyer is invited. Last week they broadcasted live a seminar on transforming old office buildings into apartments and dealing with sustainability issues. Not a single architect was invited. They only had lawyers, real estate agents, accountants and a few local politicians as experts speakers. I think this is a true indication of what have become of the profession of architecture, A free internship doesn't surprise me at all.
I completely and totally agree with elinor. Especially this:i think way too much is made of the fact that architects coming out of school have little/no experience or professional skills. this is true for any field/profession, even at the lowest end. all jobs require some sort of training, and most industries recognize this. and even mcdonalds PAYS you for the time it takes you to learn their cash register system or their breakfast grill protocol.
I current work outside of the profession and in the field I am in, fresh-out-of-school grads start around $105,000 for their work. These people have had no more schooling than I (and generally less, in fact) to prepare them for the real world. I have had extensive conversations with them on the question of how their degree prepared them for their jobs. Every one of them completely honestly told me that the degree didn't prepare them functionally at all - it gave them conceptual tools, and networking connections - which every last one of these people have told me was their primary reason for their education. They tend to bounce around fields a bit too - in a way that's similar to a historic-restoration architect might switch to a health-care architect office - and in each case they simply learn the requisite details on the new job. And of course, every lateral transfer they make results in a salary increase.
None of this information is at all hidden and these people each speak very frankly and matter-of-factly about their experiences. It is a given fact of their field that this is what you do - this is how you are educated, this is how you are valued at a company (from DAY ONE), and this is how you are trained ON THE JOB.
When I tell them what architects typically make (generally, but most specifically in their starting salaries) these people are literally shocked. I have seen jaws drop when I describe the attitude in our profession.
No one in any other field can possibly expect you to know everything you're supposed to know the day you walk into the office. They pay you regardless, as a good faith investment in their human capital. This view of employees as integral to the business - as, in fact, BEING the business - is totally missing from architecture. Even fresh-out-of-med school doctors are paid - and they have an ENORMOUS gap of knowledge/experience that frankly dwarfs even architects'. (I would argue they need to be paid MORE because they start at around $35k, but at least they are PAID from day one.)
harold, that is really, really depressing. Can you tell us the radio station/program? I'd actually like to hear it.
there was something similar to the unpaid internship going on 15 or so years ago in the ny restaurant business...not the high-class places but the regular neighborhood joints. no idea if it still happens. you'd be expected to work a few nights (3-5) free and then if they chose you, you'd go into the regular waitress rotation and clear $150-250 a night in tips for a 5-hr shift. now this was great if you were a college student, because where else were you going to make $600-1000/wk for a part-time job that allowed you to go to school full-time? so of course no one ever complained.
architects, however, are expected to work several months free, for the possibility of a full-time job which is really more than full-time, and which pays roughly the same wage as 20 hrs a week waiting tables. with a college or master's degree.
SO many things wrong with this picture.....
Just to clarify something: my own position on this issue is unambiguous. We don't take on any unpaid positions (although, as I've noted before, we seem to have a disturbing number of people offering to work for free at our office). And the basis for it being 'wrong' is ethical more than moral. My reason for posting those scenarios is in provoking the discussion (productively) and because I don't see them as black and white. And, there's really two different scenarios being discussed here: a limited engagement/project/term for which free labor is being solicited and a more indefinite, you're working a typical job just not getting paid (and don't know when that will change or end). The latter is so out of line, I'm not sure it's worth discussing (what's the defense, really?). My interest is in the former.
manta - you sound like you're in software programming, but I'm speculating.
What's common with that industry, though, and with trace's line of thought is this: what's the ultimate payoff? We (along with other creative professions) are being asked to give more and more work upfront, for a variety of reasons. A lot of this is unpaid and unrecoverable in the future fee. And, despite popular conception, it's not easy to snap your fingers and increase fees to pick up this extra fees. This becomes even more acute the smaller the firm - the sheer revenue to dedicate to marketing makes it very difficult to compete against the larger corporate firms. To put this in perspective: to prepare a proposal, interview, and potential schematic designs, estimates, and other information for a typical 10M university job (and I've been asked for designs and estimates in the past year) probably costs us 1500 in hard, non-salary costs and another 10k in soft costs (non-billable time). And, in talking to my peers, we're pretty cheap. Lots of them spend 2x or more than that. My take on that job is probably 350k, the profit will be 35-50 depending on how efficient and easy the job is. So, I've blown 1/3 to 1/4 of my profit just trying to get the job. Do that on 3 projects that you don't win and the fourth will mean you break even. (and, yes, some jobs just walk in, meaning you don't have much marketing time at all).
This matters in this discussion for a couple reasons: first, outside of the larger 'superstar' firms (a whole separate issue unto itself), most of the firms that are looking for free labor are almost decidedly small or smaller in nature (10 people or less for my purposes). So, let's ask the 'why' question: why do they need to do this? I've only laid out one option/scenario, where the numbers are difficult to make add up.
The bigger problem, though, is that the ultimate payoff is really, really low compared to other options for which to provide capital. Not many firms are going to get a startup loan unless the principals provide a personal guarantee to repay it. And on revenues of 1M, the norm for profitability for a firm is going to be 100k or less. And, statistically (based on AIA and Cramer's publications), firms with 10 or less have an average principal salary of right around 100k, including bonus and benefits. Some will certainly do better, so apparently do not. So, in the end, it's a tough business to make money in at all, even when things go right. That kind of pressure can be brutal at times and can lead the most ambitious to cut corners and seek any competitive edge they can get, including free labor. Not a defense (see sentence #1), but one explanation...
elinor - your assertion, while true in some cases, is not a universal constant, no? I'm willing ot argue that the percentage of firms that engage in 'expected' unpaid labor is really quite small, probably less than 2-3%. My greater disturbance is that it seems to be somewhat common among the more 'distinguished' firms the profession lauds...
yes, you are right, greg. my point, however, was meant to extend to those firms that pay very little (27k, etc.) on the pretext that young workers are poorly trained/inexperienced and therefore not worth a living wage.
i understand that these are very separate issues legally, but within the profession, the rationale for such practices is more or less the same, and filters up through salaries at all levels.
i am disturbed by how much young graduates have internalized this and think of it as normal.
and i'm disturbed as well by how distinguished firms 'charge' a premium, in the form of unpaid labor, to perfectly qualified candidates for jobs. in nyc it seems like these firms constitute more than 2-3%, but that may be because they get more press/attention.
on a separate note, there are also offices that agree to work as immigration sponsors for employees whom they then hire at a reduced rate with the assurance that they won't move on (or ask for raises, etc.) for several years while paperwork is in process. maybe this is more fair on some level, since they are giving something else in return, but it still creates an unfair environment where employees have little or no bargaining power (and possibly lowers salaries for workers who already have us work permits).
just read your long post---missed it the first time--, and just wanted to say that having worked for large firms, i did notice that the firms themselves were being squeezed to a shocking degree by developers to provide more work up front (or for less) or being played against other firms and pressured to continue to reduce fees for prospective projects. it is definitely a systemic problem. in many cases, competition-type proposal presentations were required for projects which would have been awarded outright years earlier, like public schools, hospitals, etc.
koolhaaas has argued publicly about the same stuff exactly, so it is not an issue limited to the non-starred architects.
from the developers side it looks simply like architects want to live in a world without competition. not going to happen. doesn't make it right or easy, but that is the deal.
i think the point is that the only way hiring interns makes any sense is if they stay long enough to be actually productive - a year or more at least.
elinor - my examples were actually public universities, not developers.
two more thoughts/examples (which aren't quite the same, but let's run with it for a minute):
have you ever contributed to wikipedia? if so, i'm pretty much guessing you weren't paid. yet, there are 35 paid staff positions. so, why are there so many people willing to donate their time?
this gets even murkier for beta testing software: google has literally thousands of people VOLUNTEERING to be beta testers on their various software endeavors. by the logic in this thread, google should be paying every single one of them a fair wage - after all, their work is paving the way for google to reap millions and billions of dollars. and yet.... they don't but still have to turn people away. (yes, a lot of beta testers have their own commercial reasons for doing it, but can't an architect have the same intentions?). and google isn't the only one - most software companies do this. in many ways, it's baked into the expectations of all involved. yet, it's a thriving and incredibly important aspect of that industry and (i'd argue) has made most software projects stronger for it. yet, i've never, ever heard a peep about the beta testers feeling exploited. why is that (i' don't know - i'm genuinely asking).
greg, generally, i think you make great points. but this last one.....
the differences i would say with beta testers are:
- these are people, presumably, with secure incomes or they just don't care anyway
- they are contributing to improve a product they use
- they are not counting on being a beta testing as a springboard for their careers
i think the better analogy would be if a community is developing designs for a downtown revitalization project and a bunch of well-compensated, savvy architects decide to volunteer some nights and weekends hours to help provide input on the program, design and CA of the civic project.
but unpaid work for a firm is something different. The person submitting to such conditions is not approaching it from a place of power, financial security or comfort (in most cases). In addition, said person may not realize any of the benefits in exchange for their labor, or at least a disproportionately small share of it.
to turn your analogy on its head, there is no expectation at google that aspiring young engineers have to first prove their engineering potential as unpaid beta testers before google will consider hiring them ---
wikipedia is a non-profit, which makes a big difference. google beta testers--that's a good question. i'm not sure why people do it or what the structure is, but most open-source software is probably also created in some sort of non-profit-seeking setting, and the reward is the product itself, which everyone can then use. mcneel has a beta-testing program for rhino in which the beta versions are available free for the duration of the testing period. being that you can use it for pretty much anything you want, that seems like a fair exchange.
there is also no expectation that they'll be there every day, all day, working under someone else's direction with all the constraints of a full-time job
i take greg's point, though. if it's technically illegal to 'volunteer' for a for-profit operation, that should extend to the beta testers as well/
but wait, are they actually developing the software, or just test-using it? i have to read up on this before i form a solid opinion.
What's the value of a college education? I mean, if a firm isn't willing to pay someone with a college degree, then why go to college at all?
Yet, at the same time, I doubt many of these firms would hire someone straight out of high school. So obviously they value the college education that many of their unpaid interns have received, but they don't value that education enough to pay them. They're trying to have their cake and eat it too. Plain and simple. Opening a new, small, start-up firm is hard. It's supposed to be hard. Most start-up business take years before they turn a profit. And if you can't afford to be in the red that long, then you simply can't afford to start a new business. And if you can't put forth the extra hours required to make the ends meet, you shouldn't be allowed to cut corners and add unpaid interns to get the work done.
It's a dirty, unethical short-cut.
Nailed it, newguy.
What? In beta-testing you get to use the product. You get advance, and FREE, use of the product before anyone else, in exchange for a minimal response (and there is usually no actual requirement to respond, just an understanding that at some point you should probably tell the company about problems). There is an exchange of tangible goods there. Many of the beta-testers out there are actual software designers who volunteer to participate in the beta-test partly because they are developing other software as part of their livelihood that works with the beta software. That's a pretty specious comparison Greg. You are not coming to work a daily job for which others receive payment for your hours of work but you don't see any of that.
And no, I'm not in software design. I'm currently working in consumer packaged goods manufacturing. Every person in every department (and there are many, and very wide-ranging, departments) is fairly, and well, compensated from day 1 - which is sometimes the employee's very first day of a full-time job ever. Architecture as a profession is so poorly managed that very few other fields even remotely compare, in my experience. There are many obvious parallels to other similar professions (dentistry, law, accounting, even education) which have succeeded in building and maintaining value for themselves. We haven't and we don't because we generally choose not to think about such things, or to pretend that we are somehow different because we're passionate and creative. Or to simply accept the status quo and impugn others as insufficiently passionate/satisfied/zen for daring to call out the obvious. We allow ourselves to be side-tracked by the supposed "grey areas" and endlessly debate minor circumstances when we should be looking at the larger picture & daring to call a spade a spade. I understand that complacency saves a lot of mental stress but at some point this profession will strangle in the grip of complacency, and I think we're slowly headed that way right now. How much longer can architecture afford to exist?
so, to continue on as the devil's counsel...
jmang: if there's someone who meets all three conditions, why doesn't it work for them (it doesn't have to work for you or me, but why preclude them? if money wasn't the issue, would you work for zumthor for a year if he'd let you in?)
elinor - beta testers do both. they use the software but are obliged (less legally than morally) to give feedback about issues/breaks/ideas which then are used by the developers to improve/fix the product, presumably before it's put out to market. and you're correct - there isn't an expectation they'll be there doing work every day. but, for that matter, if you've actually agreed to work for free, isn't the 'obligation' to show up every day just an illusion? i mean, what's the firm going to do if you show up late, fire you??? (and this also applies to jmang's point - of course, you as the person working for free - at least in the western world - are always in more control. there's a big difference between VOLUNTEERING to work for free vs. indentured servitude.)
throw the profit/non-profit dichotomy out the window. why should it matter? i mean, the heads and paid staff of afh/design corps, etc. all draw salaries (and in some rare cases, much better ones than you probably do).
now, newguy and jmang both, in their way, get to the heart of the matter: money. no, google doesn't have to ask someone to work for free for 2-3 months just to get to work there. but even if they did, they'd still have people beating down the doors IF the payout on the other end was as high as it probably is. architecture, as we've seen, isn't as lucrative. newguy - if you're unprofitable as a firm for the first few years, you're almost certainly either bankrolling it yourself or you're out of business. architecture isn't the same as most product or even high margin service startups - you're not going to find investors lining up to get in on the ground floor. in fact, you probably can't convince a bank to loan you any more money than you have in your personal savings. and that has nothing to do with the time you, as the owner, put in yourself - you'll put in plenty if you are or are not making money. you're probably killing yourself trying to make it work - for you, for what little staff you have, etc. and you're presented with a killer opportunity - shortlist for a plum cultural building in china. you're not being paid by the organizers, but you're expected to be there in 8 weeks, with a thought out design, renderings, a killer model, and with the key project leaders. you're going to need 3-4 full time people for 2 months, probably a professional model done, tickets for 2 to bejing, and god knows what else. you'll literally spend 100-120k in real, tangible costs to pay for everything above. you've got 20k in the bank, maybe 20k you can get on a card, nothing on a line of credit and a second mortgage isn't an option. but this job would 'make' you - put you on the fast track to global superstar. you're telling me if free labor comes knocking on your door, you're going to say no? please....