"Collaboration"--the new unpaid internship?


"We don't want to hire you, but would be interested in collaborating on projects"

This line, or something like it, seems to be very common these days.   I have now had several 'famous' up-and-coming NYC design studios (you know them from Instagram or your nearest Ivy design critic staffing pool) tell me some variation of the above: we don't hire staff, we collaborate.  

Has the star architecture staffers club been replaced by the famous Instagram collaborators club?  

Jun 17, 19 1:10 pm

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Sounds like they want you to work on a gig basis.   Which is super-duper in the USA as long as they understand the rights and responsibilities of both parties in an employer-independent contractor relationship.

Most architects, however, seem pretty clueless on the matter.   They will also resist crediting you as a "collaborator" at awards and publicity time.

Jun 17, 19 1:17 pm

any young person entertaining this kind of thing needs to do 2 things.

1. Form an LLC. 

2.Bring with you a “joint venture” contract to the meeting.  

Jun 17, 19 2:19 pm

Imo the gig economy isn’t bad, and isn’t going anywhere. Just understand that these companies cannot have their cake and eat it too. If you are going to hired as a sub, or an independent contractor, be legit and professional about it.


Have a contract. Charge more than you would per/hr as an employee! You are a business now, and have operational expenses! I would at least double your rate. If you make 30 an hr as an employee, charge 60-100 as an independent contractor. In this new economy everyone is going to need to learn how to be an entrepreneur.


Um... at least triple + 10% profit your rate... I mean that's what they're doing when they bill you out.


also, it's 1099 and is expensive from a tax perspective -

Jun 17, 19 2:52 pm



expensive and time consuming.

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Collaborators are not the same as unpaid interns, for a first they get paid...

Jun 18, 19 6:12 am

Oh and don’t forget the write-offs.

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