Pay your Interns

AGDA stands firm on designers being paid for their services, particularly for those who are beginning their career trajectory and need additional support establishing professional boundaries and relationships with clients and peers alike. For employers and commissioners of design we actively seek to address attitudes that prevent individuals from rightful employment.

AGDA believes firmly that anyone who is not completing an internship as a formal part of their educational course should be treated as an employee, and is subject to the terms and conditions set out by The Fair Work Ombudsman.

AGDA supports and contributes to the initiatives being undertaken by Never Not Creative to develop a Minimum Standards for Internships.

Key points

Graduate & Entry Level Interns must be paid because it otherwise excludes anyone without the means of financial support to undertake them.

Long term and persistent use of unpaid internships to produce commercial work within a studio is an exploitative practice that is against the AGDA Code of Conduct.

Internships should not be used in lieu of a probationary period for new employees. While internships may lead to an offer of employment, a probationary period is a fundamental obligation of an employer to new employees.

Internships for students.

Many students must complete an internship as a mandatory part of their academic study, in order to develop and refine their knowledge and practical abilities, and learn first hand in a professional environment. In most cases this will be part of a formalised and structured programme supported through their educational institution and facilitated by an industry liaison officer.

Internships will typically require the student to complete 90 studio hours during a 3 month period, and they will agree the terms of those hours directly with the host studio. Many students will do 1-2 days per week in order to balance the internship with their study and part-time work commitments.

In this instance it is acceptable that this would be an unpaid internship to encourage studios to open their doors and create more opportunities for students to experience studio life first hand.

However it should be made clear that this is part of a students academic study, and is therefore intended to benefit the student without the usual constraints and expectations placed upon an employee.

In other words, this is not a free resource for studios to exploit. Terms such as working hours, responsibilities and length of the internship should be formalised by both parties, and regular communication with the intern and studio should be maintained by the students industry liaison officer (or equivalent).

AGDA’s recommended guidelines is that these arrangements should not exceed 90 hours in total. It should also be made clear that if the person is doing work to help with the ordinary operation of the business (rather than just observation, learning, training or skill development), then fair compensation is encouraged to comply with minimum wage standards set out by The Fair Work Ombudsman.

Internships for graduates and entry level designers.

AGDA believes firmly that anyone who is not completing an internship as a formal part of their educational course should be treated as an employee, and is subject to the terms and conditions set out by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

An intern is usually an entry-level position for an individual trained to be a designer. An internship is a paid position for individuals who have completed formal training and basic certification in their respective field. The intern works under the supervision of senior designers and directors within a firm, learning techniques, demonstrating their skills, and building a resume for future employment.

Companies may make a job offer to successful candidates at the conclusion of the internship, however this should not be the expectation.

Definitions:

Work Experience

Work experience involves a student of secondary or tertiary level, spending time within a workplace to gain an insight into how a particular industry operates. Work experience is short term, ranging from a few days to a week, and is typically unpaid.

A student participating in work experience may be given dummy projects that are overseen by senior staff members who offer guidance and direction. They should attend the work place only during office hours and have formal arrangements made with their school or college, which outlines expectations for both parties.

Internship - Graduate

A student or recent graduate may wish to take part in an internship at a studio as part of their ongoing learning within the industry and to gain experience before becoming an employee.

Internship - Professional

A professional level designer may seek out an internship if they are moving to a discipline they are not trained in, or a region they are new to. These types of arrangements should always be a short duration, with an agreed set of responsibilities for both parties.

Probationary Period

Internships should not be used in lieu of a probationary period for new employees. While internships may lead to an offer of employment, a probationary period is a fundamental obligation of an employer to new employees.