Archinect needs to ban Unpaid Interships Postings.



As a recent graduate, I am insulted that when it is already hard enough and extremely competitive to land a job you have a**sholes like this (who are clearly not the struggling artist variety of architect) offering unpaid internships. They are asking people who clearly have a certain skill set to work for free and are bold enough to call it training. Firms such as this are degrading our professions' worth from within. 

I believe that archinect should take a stand and ban this type of solicitation.  

Oct 7, 13 3:07 pm

i believe the person who posted that ad created their own wikipedia page

wikipedia says she worked for both zaha and rem.  is that even possible?  i suppose that's where she got the clever idea of not paying staff?

somewhat fascinating really.  i can't tell if it's only her, or if she actually has a regular staff.  there are some pictures of people, but then it's not that hard to take pictures of people.  she also has 3 offices/3 addresses (2 fairly close to each other in new york, and one in germany that doesn't have a phone number).  just seems to be a lot of self-promotion in a way that maybe doesn't quite add up in a world of skepticism and internet fishing schemes and such.

Oct 7, 13 3:26 pm

Seems like a high-turnover office considering the number of postings in the last year?

Oct 7, 13 3:33 pm

^ Unpaid interns don't last long. LOL

Archinect sells advertising. If you don't like what they are selling you can always boycott the product.

On the other hand there may be some people who would be happy to provide some free labor in exchange for a good screwing.

Oct 7, 13 4:23 pm

Aren't unpaid internships in violation of federal labor law? Perhaps Archinect ought to rethink its policy on advertising stuff that could get them in legal trouble.

Oct 7, 13 5:00 pm

are interns supposed to live off dumpsters in NYC?  would do better working at McDonald's earning minimum wage.

and they have the nerves to put in all caps, "PLEASE DO NOT APPLY IF YOU ARE SEEKING A FULLTIME PAID POSITION."

Oct 7, 13 5:20 pm

that was the second one posted that day.

you forgot

Oct 7, 13 5:30 pm

Unpaid Intern  Discovers  new housing market....."Dumpster Housing"  It could be the next big thing better than living in a storage container.   I say take a stand don't allow unpaid intern adds to your site. 

Oct 7, 13 5:34 pm

natematt: That ad is almost certainly a violation of federal employment law.

Oct 7, 13 5:35 pm

Is this really so much worse than the many places that offer you stipends of under a grand a month? I don't think so, which is to say they are both really awful.

Oct 7, 13 5:36 pm

Report them all to the AIA and state licensing board, but don't hold your breath waiting for anything to happen.

Oct 7, 13 6:39 pm
The offer IDP credits. Don't I remember correctly that NCARB requires you to be paid?
Oct 7, 13 7:32 pm

Yes, gruen.  Unpaid internships DO NOT QUALIFY for IDP credit.

Oct 7, 13 8:11 pm

I emailed both firm polite notes reminding them that the ads as posted do not meet Department of Labor requirements, with a helpful link to those requirements online.

Oct 7, 13 8:20 pm

A few years ago, after completing a Masters and Post-graduate degree I had an interview with Anna Klingmann, she told me the problem with women in the profession was that they were getting too many degrees, which accounted for nothing without practice. THE office was in her living room, she had two or three slaves and a cat that climbed on any prospective non-paid architect/intern. Over the years I have encountered a number of unpaid internships from this so called "firm."  Her ethics must match her "branding" work: it is atrocious. 

Thank you for calling this out, 

Oct 7, 13 9:49 pm
won and done williams

Ummm... archinect, I think this one deserves a response.

Oct 7, 13 9:52 pm


Oct 7, 13 11:31 pm

bump to get this on the Archinect home page..

Oct 8, 13 12:11 pm

We need to create a 'Wall of Shame' to deter any firms from hiring interns without pay.

Oct 8, 13 12:19 pm

We need to create a 'Wall of Shame' to deter any firms from hiring interns without pay.

To start, just make a list of all the starchitect firms in the country. The overlap is close to 100%.

Oct 8, 13 12:54 pm
Hahaha cat lady needs unpaid help in living room.
Oct 8, 13 1:00 pm

FB - Tsk, tsk, tsk. Hiring unpaid interns, and telling them they will get IDP credit? How shocking, shocking!! Considering NCARB doesn't allow unpaid interns to receive credit for free work.

Oct 8, 13 2:27 pm

I don't support unpaid internships.  Never worked one, but I consider myself lucky.  But here is a typical scenario:

Say you are a budding architect working for your mediocre salary and have great ideas.  You've hierarchically plateaued at your firm, and you find that the only way of seeing your ideas through is doing your own work.  You secure a client and a job that requires three full time staff, and pays for 1.5 FTE.  You negotiate for a higher fee, and the client budges to 1.75 FTE.  You honestly need 3 people, even if everyone works 50 hour weeks.

Assume business loans are not an option, for one reason or another. And that your parents are working class immigrants or you've come from absolutely nothing.

What do you do? Not start an office and continue with a glass ceiling? Get an "intern"?

Oct 8, 13 3:58 pm
Dear b3tadine[sutures],

Thank you very much for the information.

I have not any had commercial business now for 18 months. If you notice, all of the projects on my website were completed two years ago and since then, I have not earned a single cent.

Nevertheless I launched a few research projects in the office that explore new sustainable construction techniques and other innovative ideas. However, since these initiatives are not funded, the merit is not a financial one, but merely educational. For some interns, it is a good chance to build a portfolio and to gain some expertise that they might be able to apply later in a commercially viable scenario. The same idea applies to my own situation.

I believe it is more productive to work on research under these circumstances while looking for commercial jobs than to do nothing.

I always paid my interns in the past, when I had paid commissions and was able to hire professional employees but at the moment i do not have a single project or funding despite my continued efforts. If this situation changes and I make income, naturally I will also pay my interns as I always did in the past. I wholeheartedly agree with you - it would be sleazy and unprofessional not to pay people if the business makes money.

At the moment, I am hoping and praying that some of my proposals work out and if they do, my goal is to switch the potential intern to these jobs and it will be a natural to pay them at that point. But without money and empty promises from potential clients that constantly change their mind, I am currently not in a position to give promises of financial compensation to anybody that might prove wrong later on. This is why the ad is phrased the way it is beacuse the only thing I can promise at this point is educational merit and I'm proud to say that many of my previous interns have since found jobs at commercially successful firms and have benefited greatly from this training period.

Looking forward to continue our conversation.

Best Regards, Anna Klingmann
Oct 8, 13 4:03 pm

Lol, you accept the fact that you are not able to take this job for the money offered. Look for a job at another firm that will give you more responsibility or keep looking for other work that you can afford to complete in a legal manner. Just because you are a skilled designer does not mean you should start your own business if you are not financially able to pay employees a fair salary.

Oct 8, 13 4:11 pm

Hey friends,

           I live in NYC and I'm almost broke but I want to run my own firm and hopefully become a starchitect someday even though my lack of contracts or work for the past two years tell me otherwise.  Why don't you all come support me and intern for free please.


Oct 8, 13 4:35 pm
I will.
Oct 8, 13 4:44 pm
Where do I sign up? I'm pretty sure I have 6 months before my Ivy League loans kick in.
Oct 8, 13 4:46 pm



Bottom line, if the work that you are looking to take on will not pay for the amount of employees that you will need, it is not a viable business decision. Entrepreneurs often have to forego taking a salary for multiple years in order to get their business off the ground, why are architects different? PAY YOUR DAMN EMPLOYEES

Oct 8, 13 4:57 pm


1) Relax.

2) This is hypothetical, and not a narrative about me (so I won't take your presumption and consequent derisive comments personally), but this situation happens a lot to people.  I don't think it's as simple a choice for others as it is for you/me/us.

3) On foregoing one's own salary: Who pays/feds you?  It's ok to work for a client for free but not another architect?

4) If money is the only thing driving people to become architects, people wouldn't accept unpaid internships.  But they do, and the we're back to this conversation again.

Oct 8, 13 5:13 pm

For f---s sake.  If you don't have the money to pay your employees, you don't have a firm, and whatever speculative work you are doing isn't educational, it is marketing. For you. To make more money.

Pay your ----ing interns.

Oct 8, 13 5:18 pm


I realize its not a narrative about you (I apologize if I came off as if I was directing my response at you). I understand its a difficult situation and its not always a definitive answer on what the correct move would be. What really gets under my skin I suppose is the idea that many young architects believe that they have to take a position that does not offer them enough to live off of just to "get their foot in the door". I graduated from a solid b.arch program and many of my classmates have ended up working for firms that basically pay them table scraps and make them work long hours. Its this kind of thinking that just seems to bury recent graduates deeper and deeper. I really do not know what the answer is and how to remedy the situation in any way.

Oct 8, 13 5:26 pm

@beta did you receive or create that email?

Oct 8, 13 5:44 pm
I posted a comment on FB and that's what I got back.
Oct 8, 13 5:47 pm
Can't make money for 18 months. Thinks its OK to ask other people to also not make money. Also thinks she has something worth offering even though the market has spoken otherwise.

Back in the real world, I work hard on tons of projects that will never see the light of day in the magazines or academy. But the do seem to pay.
Oct 8, 13 6:06 pm
BTW: thunderclap, in your hypothetical scenario, there are other options than trying to get something for nothing. One I can think of is that you ask the client to provide a retainer, so you can hire employees. Or maybe ask your potential employees to delay compensation until money comes in, say in one month, and then compensate them for their total time. Lets face it, architects are bad business people and "jobs" like this degrade the profession.
Oct 8, 13 6:11 pm

This is why the ad is phrased the way it is beacuse the only thing I can promise at this point is educational merit and I'm proud to say that many of my previous (unpaid) interns have since found jobs at commercially successful firms and have benefited greatly from this training period.

They found PAID jobs elsewhere.

Oct 8, 13 7:48 pm

I like Janosh's comment.

I also think it's very black and white: if someone is doing something for you, it's unethical not to pay them.  If you're a corporation/registered business, it's not only unethical, it's illegal.

If you're looking to find experience, I don't think it's necessarily unethical to try to get that experience without pay, but if it means you're taking part in an unethical system, then bingo, it *is*unethical.

Don't have unpaid workers; don't work for free.

Oct 8, 13 8:02 pm

Why is there a part of me that is sympathetic to this one? Am I a masochist?

Oct 8, 13 8:31 pm

its funny how an employer that writes books and design architecture as brands would post something like this that could potentially tarnish their own "brand".

it wasn't a bad book.

Oct 8, 13 8:32 pm

Do other types of businesses get away with not paying people?

I like the idea of a "wall of shame" except it would end up being a list of most of the architecture firms in the world. 

Oct 8, 13 11:15 pm

Maybe it should have one wall of fame and one of shame... just to not be completely down on the system? 8)

Oct 9, 13 4:10 am

when she didn't have any clients to support her business, did she go out looking for a real job?  did she consider other fields, or any other options?  did she try to find someone with a successful firm and offer to work for them for free so she could gain experience and build up her resume? maybe she looked into marrying rich?  or is this what you do when you're an entrepreneur?  when your business fails and you can't support your employees, you just stop paying them. 

i don't know b3ta.  why are you sympathetic to someone who thinks they're too good to work for a living?  i had to drag my sorry ass out of bed this morning so i could go to work for someone, so i have the money to pay for food.  i don't think this lady's failures in business preclude her from the same fate.

Oct 9, 13 7:52 am

I can't think of another profession that doesn't pay their own.  Even apprentices in trades make good money (better than architects in a lot of cases...) and they're getting hands-on training with the acknowledgment that they're still, you know, learning.

Oct 9, 13 9:25 am
I think a "part" of me is sympathetic, because it seems she had a good run, maybe has a family, has a good life, and everything fell apart. Now she's struggling to hold it all together, and this seems like a "cry" for help, if anything. Her comments to me don't jive with the advert though, so that's why I maintain some healthy suspicion.
Oct 9, 13 9:57 am

maybe somewhere, deep down inside, she's a regular human being instead of just a monster.  that's possible.  though she could obviously choose to be a regular person without unpaid labor supporting her, like most people.  here is a tale she posted on her facebook page (since b3ta mentioned he communicated with her through that venue, i figured i would look into it):

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred - Forgive.

2. Free your mind from worries - Most never happens.

3. Live simply and appreciate what you have.

4. Give more.

5. Expect less from people but more from yourself.

You have two choices... smile and close this page,
or pass this along to someone else to share the lesson .


maybe unpaid labor is the dirt, and she is the donkey?  or maybe she is the dirt, and she's helping the unpaid labor get out of a bad situation?  Or it could mean you're the righteous man and I'm the shepherd and it's the world that's evil and selfish.  And I'd like that. But that shit ain't the truth. The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.

Oct 9, 13 10:31 am

While I do feel sorry for her, as it's not a great time for the profession, asking for free help makes me forget all about her problems.

I still think the biggest problems are the larger firms that can't even make up the heart wrenching story Anna Klingmann shared with us. Yesterday I was offered 2 jobs in China to work for free, and maybe after 3 months of working they might pay me. And who knows if their pay after 3 months would even be enough to buy myself some food. I was fed a line that went something like " We invest so much into training and whatnot that we just can't pay you." Even when I worked fast-food, they paid to train me.

Oct 9, 13 10:50 am

Thank you, curtkram, for that injection of Pulp Fiction into the discussion.  In the world we live in it seems those are the only two options for making enough money to survive: either be a gangster, or make really entertaining movies/books about gangsters.

Oct 9, 13 12:28 pm

Do interns really not get paid in North America by big firms?  I was under the impression this only happened in Europe because of some government rules as students get a lot of incentives there - free education, subsidized student housing, monthly stipends, local transit exemption etc.  I have completed multiple internships around US during my undergrad and have always been paid fairly.  It must be European architects mainly who bring over their practice and treatment of interns across the ocean.

Oct 9, 13 12:49 pm

curtkram, I've heard that story told a little differently...

Once upon a time, there was a small bird who had been caught unprotected in a winter cold snap. He became so cold that he could barely move and fell out of his nest to the ground below. There he lay, paralyzed, waiting to freeze to death.

Just as he was about to close his eyes forever, a cow happened along. The bird tried to call  out for help, but was unable. The cow, oblivious to the bird or his fate, grazed through the frost-encrusted grass. After a couple of minutes, the cow let loose a huge crap, which fell directly on top of the bird.

"Oh great," thought the bird, "Here I am, dying, and the world sees fit to add insult to my injury by having me spend my last moments alive covered in feces. Truly, the universe is a cruel place."

But then the bird noticed that, while he was in fact completely covered in shit, it was also quite warm and was reviving his poor frozen body. Before too long, he had been completely restored and his body temperature had fully recovered. He was amazed! He had been saved by unlikely and unpleasant circumstance!

The bird was so overjoyed that he began to sing his gratitude to the cow for saving his life. The sound of the birdsong soon attracted a fox who had been wandering nearby. The fox then dug the bird out of the cow pat and ate him.

The end.


There are three morals to this story:

  1. Not everyone who heaps shit on you is your enemy.
  2. Not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend.
  3. If you find yourself in deep shit, keep your mouth shut.
Oct 9, 13 12:58 pm

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