Maria Kyriacou - GMD
Design is in a constant state of metamorphosis. Thus, meaning that its ability to surprise is foreseeable.
The practice of delivering a service for free. In a world ever changing and progressing, those who are studying seems to be stuck in a grey area with regards to their rights when it comes to paid and unpaid internships. Although
With an ever-growing marketplace for designers and a constant growing need for creatives to change the world, this progression seems to feel more like an obligation.
The rite of passage with internships. The normality that surrounds not paying your employee a wage for 40+ hour working week is my first surprise of the industry. The legality of situation in itself is a grey area. An intern is entitled to the Nation Minimum Wage if they count as a worker. However, employers can avoid this by simply stating that it doesn’t apply as they are not considered a ‘worker’ as we would not be on payroll. If the promise of future work has been made then you do classify as a worker and should be being paid the minimum wage, however much like myself this is not the case. In addition to this, the law also states that student internships can be unpaid under the pretence that that employee is working for less than a year under a higher education course entitlement (e.g. DPS). So, the decision of whether or not to pay an intern comes down to the employer’s perception of who the primary beneficiary’ is in the agreement/contract. In many cases the argument will be made that the intern is the primary beneficiary as they are learning and gaining experience, however as a full time working intern myself I can say that the work I am undergoing is that of someone above my position and I feel that my position in the company has been taken advantage of. Although, benefitting my career and portfolio, I am still providing a service, which due to my position, is being done for free.
This is the dilemma. Is the work benefitting my journey enough so that so I will continue doing it at my own expense? A Marxian would say ‘labour is a commodity that is bought and sold on the market’ and I am inclined to agree with this ideology. When put into perspective we spend years and thousands of pounds to educate ourselves in our field and build up experience and knowledge of our chosen field. Starting our industry lives already in such dept form educating on self, the idea to then join the working world and be asked to do so for free can be extremely disheartening.
But on a more positive note. Experience can be seen as the new currency of the future. The experiences I have encountered since starting this year in profession studies has been crucial not only to my own development as a designer but as a person. These experiences from office politics, to interacting with clients, to the layout of my work have all improved. Thus, it can easily be argued that experience is my pay-check and I earning so much that will benefit my future that It could be said to more important than the actual financial implications of this journey.