This topic contains 1 reply, has 2 voices, and was last updated by meagan@histpres 6 months ago.
October 30, 2011 at 7:31pm #14005
Sparked by the discussion following our presentation at the National Preservation Conference, we at HISTPRES are interested in your opinions on unpaid internships.
Like other mature professions, such as architecture, there are guidelines for valuing the work of interns. We believe that students should be compensated monetarily and/or with school credit. Furthermore, there are serious labor and tax laws that govern these exchanges.
While we, admittedly, do not know all of the legalities, HISTPRES stands by this policy. What are your thoughts!? Are unpaid internships crucial experience or a professional fax paus?November 7, 2011 at 2:36pm #14198
I just don’t think it’s that clearly black-or-white, for three reasons.
1. While I agree that the work of interns *can be* valuable, I don’t agree that the value of an internship to the student is limited to monetary compensation and/or school credit. The opportunity to gain professional experience can be very valuable, particularly when it includes a project that positions a student to be more competitive as a candidate for regular employment. You also have to realize that interns can take a lot of someone’s time to mentor, teach, and manage, and that’s a cost to the employer beyond the intern’s wages.
2. With all due respect, I don’t think it’s reasonable to equate preservation internships with architecture internships. Architecture is, as you said, a mature profession. It’s been professionalized for 100 years. The Intern Development Program, developed in the 1970s, is a structured transitional period between graduation and licensure/registration, with very specific experience and hours requirements. (Although even the IDP allows an intern to count some unpaid work as part of a community development project with a non-profit.) Architecture education, internships, registration, and practice are all highly structured. Not so, preservation.
3. Professionals in our field do a TON of volunteer/pro bono/discounted work. I don’t believe that we devalue our work when we donate our time and expertise to projects or causes that are deserving but under- or un-funded, and let’s face it — there are plenty of those out there.
If a student wants a specific kind of experience and has the chance to obtain that through an unpaid internship, he or she can decide if the opportunity is worth it or not. I see no reason to take a hard line for or against when there are so many variables in play and, ultimately, that’s a decision best made by the individual.
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