Internship Pay


I am aware several threads exist on this topic, however I want a direct response to my situation. I am a recent grad and just took an internship offer with a great firm located in Los Angeles. It's a stipend pay of $1200/ month working 50 hours/ week. That equates to around 6 something an hour. Is this standard pay for someone with little work experience? I am doing ACAD, 3D work in Rhino, Photoshop and Illustrator work. All of the latest programs with a competitive portfolio. I am certain this place will lead me to bigger places and plan to but for now how long should I work for $1200/month? 



Nov 2, 13 10:43 pm
I would say, stop working there just before you starve. That's very low pay. Stipend my ass.
Nov 2, 13 11:30 pm

Seems like most stipends are closer to 500/month...

That said... you are getting paid less than minimum wage...

.... From my research/experience, the typical intern/junior/entry-level architect with a full-time permanent position and 0-3 years experience makes between 30-40k a year with a non-professional degree and 35-50k with a professional degree... as opposed to the 14400 you will make.

Nov 2, 13 11:40 pm

wow, i got paid more taking frozen pizza crusts out of the freezer, opening a can of sauce and a bag of pre-grated cheese, assembling it, putting it in the oven for 5 minutes, and ringing it into the register.

i got paid less than 30k for a few months as a contract worker but then they hired me... its tempting because its that whole "i need experience" thing and the "well, at least i'll have my foot in the door" thing.  just don't stick around too long... start looking for a better job now.  

Nov 3, 13 12:39 am

Thanks for your response and advice, guys. My dad is telling me the exact same thing, I could be delivering pizza's for a higher pay. But exactly, I do not plan on staying here any longer than a typical internship period @backbay. I've already compiled a list of potential firms and I'm hoping the firm I'm working for now can help me put my foot into there doors. By then I will have more office knowledge and have the confidence to not take a low paying offer. 

Nov 3, 13 12:58 am

$1200/mo is pretty good for LA. Esp. is the office is any good. Gotta pay your dues, my dude. If you aren't down, looks like AECOM is hiring...

Nov 3, 13 1:03 am

@rabibits I would love a job at AECOM or somewhere mega corporate. But you're right and thats why I took this offer because of the experience. 

Nov 3, 13 1:13 am

Do you have a bachelors or masters degree? If you want to work somewhere prestigious it is going to matter big time. If you have a bachelors then don't count on getting far in that office they will keep where you are maybe pay you a bit more. They will get an ivy league student doing their masters to work there for the summer at twice that amount.  

Also be careful what sort of work they get you to do, if you are doing a sculpture for them or an installation then really don't stick around for more then six months. In that case you are better off at AECOM doing CD's of a hospital. You will earn far more and learn a lot more. 

Nov 3, 13 8:04 am
If the firm pays the janitor minimum wage, why are you getting $6? Plan your escape now. "Paying your dues" is bullshit and I hope you are able to move on quickly. Best of luck
Nov 3, 13 10:43 am

how is a stipend different than a salary?  aren't they breaking all sorts of labor laws by underpaying you, and asking you to work more than 40 hours/week?  if you call it a 'stipend,' is that a legitimate way to circumvent the law?  do you get benefits, do they withhold taxes, did you submit an i-9 and whatever other paperwork is required for an employee, are they providing software/equipment/etc.?

Nov 3, 13 11:39 am

This is not an internship. Run as fast as you can. 

We often hear about "the entitlement generation," but the other side of the coin is bullshit like this. We all have to put in our time, but nowhere does it say you have to work for less than minimum wage. You have a voice, and right now you're telling your bosses that you're only worth $6 an hour - less than the janitor, the receptionist, the office supply delivery guy...

Nov 3, 13 12:20 pm
That sounds too low for LA.
Nov 3, 13 1:13 pm
Alien 8

So you took it, eh? Wouldn't expect anything less submissive that this from someone identifying themselves with scat. 

Nov 3, 13 1:42 pm

There really is no other way to put it @alien 8. I'm getting mixed opinions here but most of which are saying I need to get out of there. I am not an architect, yet. I graduated with a BFA in Architecture. However I am not the only employee working at this firm for $1200/ month. So I am almost willing to stay as long as the other does. I am on a W2, so they are paying the taxes. And they do provide all the supplies-- computer, software, and other office equipment. 

Nov 3, 13 2:58 pm

Still, no excuse.

Architecture will give you Stockholm syndrome, I've seen it at every firm I ever worked at, but it was definitely not this bad before the crisis in 2008.

"Gotta climb the ladder" or " I do it for the love of it" are all signs pointing that 'this' person is crazy.

You love climbing a ladder that doesn't exist? Really. Or, you love working behind a computer all day everyday pushing lines, and making less than a kindergartner teacher would right out of college, with nearly a decade of industry exposure? Just examples.

The truth of it is the 'architecture industry' has changed into a slave culture full of masochist willing to do anything for their captures, and will even defend the culture.

Best of luck... that is really all you have in this industry unless you have in's that the common man does not.

Nov 3, 13 3:26 pm

And his name is Steven Katz Alien 8, hence skatz.

"Better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt."

Mark Twain

Nov 3, 13 3:40 pm

I am not so sure if this gig will lead you to bigger places. Are you planning to apply to grad school? Maybe it will help you get into grad school, but beyond that I am weary that it will do anything to help you professionally. If you do not plan on going to grad school than do not stay at that office, they will not give you a normal job, they will give it to somebody who completed a masters of arch. at an ivy league school. 

In my experience I noticed that the more I got paid at an office the more responsibility I got. Another reason to try to bargain as much as you can get. Stay there a maximum of 6 months. Start looking now for other opportunities. 

Nov 3, 13 4:44 pm

@archinet I do plan on going to grad school in a year or two. I feel the work experience is much needed for myself. This firm is good to have on my resume which can help me get into a bigger place. I have yet to ask the salaried employees what they earn but my responsibilities are not far behind them. My plan is to move into a much larger firm where I am paid more and have less responsibility. 

Nov 3, 13 5:14 pm
Alien 8

@DeTwan So I see. Despite its being juvenile, I'll stand by the connection made in the comment Also, I'm not sure that Twain would appreciate you putting words in his mouth. 

Nov 3, 13 6:15 pm

Once again i see even the top of the totem pole grads are receiving low pay. I am a 2 year degree grad looking at the same pay as you in FL. I'm due for a raise on the 12th of this month to ten bucks, but that's it. Just like you OP I plan on getting to a higher position one day I of course have a lot more school to go though.

Hope everything works out for you

Nov 4, 13 9:02 am
Non Sequitur

Skatz... granted unpaid internships are not a thing in my market, you should expect 3 times that as a start even with zero years experience.

Nov 4, 13 9:13 am

@Non Sequitur Uh, what? I'd love to know what offices are throwing out $3,600 for inexperienced interns. In LA.  I'm actually serious, I want to know. Please share.

Nov 4, 13 11:58 pm

honestly, can't you report these kinds of things?

Nov 5, 13 1:01 am

Market forces appear once again.  Repeat after me: "if I'm competing for jobs in an oversaturated market, I'm going to earn less pay for more work - if I can get a job at all."

I'd strongly consider moving to a different market. You should be earning 2 to 2.5 times what you make now. 

Nov 5, 13 3:26 am
Non Sequitur

Rabbits, I never said I was in LA, I'm from Ontario, Canada. A fresh graduate with a masters can easily earn between 38 and 50k/year straight out of school if they have a decent portfolio and know the standard software.

Nov 5, 13 8:34 am

You should be getting at least $30K a year in Los Angeles with no experience, and I know because we've never hired anyone for less than that.  Less than that and you are doing charity work for a for profit company, which is the first bad habit in what may become a career in undervaluing your work.  Minimum wage is $8/hour... and who would accept less than that?

Further, you can bet that any firm unethical enough to offer you a job for less than a legal wage will also miscategorize you as a 1099 contractor (not an employee), so your after tax income will be even less after paying self-employment tax.  And in three years, you will get audited by the City of LA for not having paid business tax on your not even legal wages.

So fuck these guys and look elsewhere.  If you can't find work for pay (and remember, you get jobs through people, not ads) abandon the "for profit" architecture world for a while and work for a non-profit housing corporation, or philanthrophy.  Or instead of joining the working poor, be poor someplace amazing and do something amazing that no job will let you do. Become a lift operator or river rafting guide or crew yachts for the super wealthy between the Great Lakes and Bahamas.  There's way too much world out there to spend your life working even a day for someone who is taking advantage of a saturated labor market at your expense.

Nov 5, 13 9:59 am

Totally agreed^!

The longer you become complaisant with the situation, the easier you are to control, and will eventually translate not only into complacency with a low low income the rest of your life, but will translate into your low moral, and ever other ubiquitous situation thrown at you in life.

Keep your back bone while you still have one.     

Nov 5, 13 10:24 am

Paying dues is the mentality that has has led to decreased pay for architects. Also paying dues is much more appealing when it actually pays off. Do you think any law school graduate would work for less than minimum wage?

Nov 6, 13 12:22 pm

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