Hi Thomas - I am member of that design field. I did my internship back in 1998. This was a paid internship. At the time I was very excited to have the opportunity to work in the fine arts field as well as get paid for it. I think back on my experience and I would have done it for free as long as it was for a short time commitment. I eventually finished out my internship and was offered a part time job by the same company. Life was good.
I am older now and I own a small web design/development business. Before I started accepting interns, I was asked by a local school to be a student mentor. I did this for a few sessions and the kids loved the chance to see a designer doing cool art as a "real job".
I remember calling up my former internship employer and asking for his advice on whether I should start looking for interns to help grow my business. He warned me that they could be very taxing, but also very rewarding.
To this day I have had about 5 interns (usually 2 a time). None of these positions were paid. The students have always been appreciative. It might be easier for me than for others because of the industry. At the end of the day we make cool art and can often share it on the web. Interns love the gratification of knowing they saw the creative process happen first hand. Priceless!
My struggle now comes from learning where to draw the line with internship commitments. I used to share more information that I should have. My only excuse was that the business model was always very small and entrepreneurial. I wanted to show these kids that they could do it too. Now that my business model has grown, I now want to teach less and show more.
The interns will leave every 3 months or so. For that time period, I want to show them what it is honestly like to be a small business owner with client meetings, phone meetings, cool projects, outside the box think tank discussions/activities, and all the other stuff that goes into the everyday work load.
I will not pay a student to experience my world. It should be something they want and would be eager to do without compensation. I don't consider this "abuse" - I consider this opportunity.
posted 3 years ago
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