Saturday, June 5, 2010

Joint Statement on Architectural Internships

Kaarin Knudson, Associate AIA, of Rowell Brokaw Architects brought to my attention a statement issued jointly by the AIA, the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, and the American Institute of Architecture Students on the subject of paid versus unpaid internship positions.

As a past adjunct faculty member at the University of Oregon's Department of Architecture, she has often been asked by students for advice regarding the prospect of internships with firms. Kaarin says that many of them have approached their search for internship positions with the concern that asking for pay (even a nominal amount) would disqualify them from consideration. Accordingly, she believes the joint statement is meaningful, not because it changes the reality of the current economy and what students face because of it, but because it communicates that our profession has ethical expectations that interns will be paid.

Kaarin is surprised by the fact that many students have almost been apologetic about hoping to be paid. That's a terrible precedent with terrible implications (particularly for students with limited resources).

Here’s the joint AIA/ACSA/AIAS statement on architectural internships:

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, the American Institute of Architects, and the American Institute of Architecture Students recognize that architects are bound by law and ethics to pay interns, and strongly advocate for the appropriate compensation of architectural students and interns. Because of current economic transformations, some architects have both solicited and accepted the services and labor of interns without pay. We strongly urge architectural firms and other for-profit employers to respect the law and comply with the ethical standards of our profession, and we strongly encourage interns to refuse to accept employment without pay, and to notify the Department of Labor in cases where employers propose such an arrangement. For more information on labor laws and professional ethics, please see the AIA Code of Ethics and the U.S. Labor Department standards under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The ACSA, AIA, and AIAS further support architects, students, and recent graduates doing pro-bono work. We recognize the distinction between unpaid work for profit-making employers, and unpaid work for non-profit organizations, communities in need, and volunteer activities, which allows participants to determine their own hours and degree of involvement. The AIA has established guidelines for services that are provided on a Pro Bono basis. They can be found on under the member section of

1 comment:

2formarchitecture said...

I'm glad you've brought this subject up. Considering how challenging our profession is to begin with, we shouldn't make it more difficult for our future professionals by exploiting any employee, regardless of their background or education. I believe we are fortunate in Eugene that this practice is either non existant or extremely rare.