Unpaid Internships: A survival guide for designers and studios

The GDC sees paid internships as a useful part of a designer’s education and path to professional practice.

CBC News recently published an article by Leslie McKinnon, Interns face patchwork of rules, even on Parliament Hill: Labour code doesn't mention the word though thousands of young people work without pay.

In it she states “Estimates of the number of unpaid interns working in Canada range from 100,000 to 300,000, but the federal government’s Labour Code doesn't even contain the word “intern.” “While the Labour Code does not specifically address internships, it protects the rights of an employee to be paid for work that is conducted,” a spokesperson for Labour Minister Lisa Raitt said in an email. “An employee can file a complaint for unpaid wages, overtime and vacation pay to the labour program.”  Read more here >

“The prevailing attitude of many is that it isn’t real work, so we don’t have to pay them...but it’s imperative that we have interns; we couldn’t exist without them.” ... BS if ever I heard it,” says designer Rick Strong, – a sentiment echoed by other regular contributors to the GDC Listserv.

“In short the unfortunate reality is that the law differs from province to province with respect to what's legal or not when it comes to intern rights and responsibilities,” said Adrian Jean CGD, GDC National President. “However there are certain things you can do as an intern, and as an organization offering internship opportunities, to protect yourself and prosper from the experience! The GDC’s guide helps to demystify some of the process in plain straightforward language.”

The GDC has created a practical guide to internships for students, studios and agencies.

“The guide was produced by members of the GDC National Executive, GDC Education Committee, and in consultation with the Canadian Intern Association. It's a helpful tool not only for GDC members, but designers of all stripes,” said Adrian.
Have a look, and share this resource with your colleagues and students!
GDC Internship Guide