On why I don’t work at a firm.

“Why don’t you work at a firm?”

I’m asked this a lot.  A whole lot.  Of course there’s not one reason but many, and this isn’t a post about all of them. It’s a post about one.

If you somehow think it’s a poor reflection on the industry for someone to curse like a sailor- now would be the time to go somewhere else, because I’m going to, and I’m not going to apologize to you for it.

Understand that I am aware that in other places, this situation happens less often. I won’t say it doesn’t exist- I have no way to know that. I do know that in other locations, it happens less often than it does in NYC.  However, my willingness to move from NYC is *zero*. Full stop, zero.  So I can only refer to what goes on here.

Today, I was looking at the design/arch job postings on Craigslist. I have them on an RSS feed. Occasionally, I’ll see something worth replying to. Not often- mostly they aren’t looking for me, and I’m not looking for them.  That’s cool.  But I’ve seen an absolutely innumerable (really, as my friend Cindy can tell you as I often send them to her to boggle at)number of  job listings that want a laundry list of real, professional qualifications- but will pay *absolutely nothing*.  They call them “internships”.  But they’re not. They’re not for school credit. They don’t provide a stipend.  They’re slave labor.  Let’s call them what they are.  And I’m tired of people getting away with it. That’s it.  It needs to stop. I might be a good designer, but I’m a good one with a big mouth and a significant lack of fear.  So I’m calling it out, because I. Am. Done.

And on this day? I finally reached my limit with this bullshit.

Finally, an ad offended me so much, that I had to write something here.  I’m not going to link to the ad, because eventually it will disappear. No. Let me show you the copy.  The bolding is mine for emphasis, and not present in the original ad(but the typo IS in the original ad.):

 
Looking for a interior designer or architect for an internship at a small, creative design firm. Must have experience working on all types of nteriors, condo development projects, restaurants and bars.
Current projects in the office include kitchens and baths for new developments, restaurants and bars and interior renovations. Must have a good knowledge of materials and lighting. Must know CAD and excel.

This is an internship position only and must have min 3-5 experience.

  • Location: DUMBO
  • Compensation: none
  • This is a part-time job.
  • This is an internship job
  • Principals only. Recruiters, please don’t contact this job poster.
  • Please, no phone calls about this job!
  • Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

Here, let me respond to this ad:

Fuck you.

No really, I can’t make that clear enough.

Fuck. You.

Let us review.

They want someone with experience with all kinds of design projects. (check!)

They want someone with experience with design software. (check!)

They want someone with a minimum of 3-5 years experience in the industry. (check!)

THEY HAVE NO INTENTION OF PAYING THEM. (I’m sorry, but you couldn’t POSSIBLY have just said that out loud, right?)

And they can’t even PROOFREAD their own ad.

You know, maybe these people are in some mysterious industry I’ve never been a part of, but you know what? I don’t KNOW any designers with 3-5 years experience that can AFFORD to NOT BE PAID to use their hard earned professional credentials and experience.  Who have the luxury of “interning part time” (also a joke as we all know there IS no such thing as part time design in reality) for NOTHING whilst paying their own travel, food, and clothing expenses, never mind you know, the life expenses they’re not being paid for.  So either you need a) someone independently wealthy.  b) you need someone completely supported by someone else (with a spouse or parents who can and will support them to work for your ass for free.) and wait,  c) someone with so little self esteem and is so desperate that they are willing to work *for free* with 3-5 years under them. I’d say they want a kid fresh out of school that they can pay 10 bucks an hour (oh but wait they aren’t even offering that), but really they don’t- again, they want someone with 3-5 years experience.

I’d call it “dreamland” but that would only insult a great song by The Merry Thoughts, who deserve better than this shit.

I will say that this is not a way to get a great designer to work with you. It’s not even a way to get a mediocre one.  I’m not even sure it’s a way to get a bad one. I don’t know WHO you get with this nonsense, but I do know that you *shouldn’t* get ANYONE, because this isn’t a job offer.

I wish I could say that this was the first, or fifth or even fiftieth time I’ve seen this.  It isn’t.   I think this one insulted me so much because firms that sound even remotely interesting to me are few and far between, but I stopped to read that one.

But I think that from now on? I’m gonna post a lot more of those- because my being silent is now over.

It’s over. This has to stop. If you can’t afford to pay someone with 3-5 years experience to work on your projects you don’t GET someone with 3-5 years experience. Also, raise your prices, because your business model is unsustainable. 


7 Comments

  1. I was just reading an article about this somewhere, how many “firms” are addressing the depression (when you are in a recession for more than 4 years its officially a depression) by offering unpaid “internships” that used to be paid positions. This is ridiculous. I hope that was the reply you sent them.

    You know, Unions were originally intended to crack down on this bullshit. Shame they never work like they are supposed to.

  2. I can see two reasons why this might be just a little bit less than downright despicable:

    1) In my field, you have to keep working just to keep your skills current. The field changes enough over time that it matters. Does the same thing apply in design?

    2) I can see a *short* internship as an audition – if it’s explicitly stated as such (and this wasn’t), and for a defined, limited time.

    These folks do need to get a crowbar to pul their head out of their asses.

    • Sure you have to keep technical skills current. That’s why you ask for current tech skills. It’s like any other job. Again it’s not an internship- there’s no exchange here. It’s looking to get someone with real professional experience to work for you for free.

  3. That’s reprehensible.

    FWIW, I pay my interns $20/hour, and they get course credit.

    • This is such bullshit, Val. Seriously. For real, I see this *EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.*

  4. […] […]


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