Architectural Ellipsis

... Intern Architect ...

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    Can we talk?

    Everyday Intern
    Nov 17, '16 7:03 PM EST

    I'd like to talk to you about unpaid internships. I thought this was pretty much self-evident, but it keeps coming up and I'm realizing now that maybe I had given you too much credit to piece this together on your own; so let me lay it out for you. 

    Don't work for free.

    Is that clear enough? It should be. If not, you have bigger problems to worry about. Quit architecture and seek competent medical help. You'll be better off for it. I could go find some statistics and talk about labor laws and all that to make my point but I don't think it really takes all that to convince someone of this. It is much simpler. 

    You see, when you work for free it affects me too. I know it may not seem like it, but it does. When you work for free, it sends a message to your employer that it is ok. They will bill their clients less for more services (if they don't why can't they pay you?). This lets them undercut their competitors' fees and win more work. This makes the competitors want to do the same so they can be competitive too. In order to do this they must either hire unpaid interns, or cut the pay from their own employees. If they don't hire unpaid interns or cut employee pay, then they will make their employees do more with less. This means that I have to stay late and work more. Don't make me stay late ... I like to go home and see my family and have a life outside of work. Don't make my employer cut my pay ... I like how much I'm making and I worked hard to get to this point.

    You want to work more and not get paid for it, fine. Volunteer for a non-profit and do something worthwhile with your time ... in the meantime, keep a solid job working for a decent wage so I can go home on time and get paid a decent wage. There are tons of good causes you could get involved in that would benefit from your willingness to volunteer. Many of them even need design services. Your employer is not one of them.

    I don't really want to hear about your excuses about why you think you need to work for free. Believe me, I've heard them all before. They don't convince me, and they shouldn't convince you. No amount of experience, networking, or resume building is worth not getting paid for it. There are people out there that are willing to pay you while training you and giving you experience. You can get paid while you are networking. You can get paid by employers that look fantastic on your resume. If you can't find a single employer who is willing to pay you for what you offer, your aren't selling what you can offer well enough. Either that, or the people you want to work for don't have any business sense and their companies deserve to go out of business.

    You have suffered enough. We have suffered enough. It's time you stood up for yourself and decided you should be compensated like an adult for what you offer to the world. You're not alone. I'm right there with you, and many others are as well. Some of us have managed to find work for relatively decent pay, and you should too. We'll all be better off for it.

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About this Blog

An ellipsis [...] is used to signal an omission, an unfinished thought, aposiopesis, or brief awkward silence. Architectural ellipses are those aspects of the profession we (perhaps intentionally) omit, gloss over, or let dwindle in silence. Generally applied this blog should encompass many aspects of the profession. Yet, as an intern architect (now architect) I'll focus primarily on the architectural ellipses that occur in the internship process (and beyond).

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