being an intern is an INVALUABLE experience!
I got an email from someone asking why the intern position was unpaid
I thought I would put in a few words about my own experience as an unpaid intern.
there are experiences in life that is are invaluable and that even though I didn't get paid - I felt that these experiences all help build who I am today and my strong work ethics. I don't know if my strong work ethics came because I never had anything given to me, I had to work for it and I grew up in a poor part of the city and we all struggled, and getting an education was high on the list and would pave my way to where I am today. when I was in junior school I wanted to be a teacher and working at a summer camp was a dream job for me and I didn't have much teaching experience since I was so young so I decided to look ahead and wanted to build that experience so I decided to do volunteer work at my local library to tutor kids that had trouble reading and I did that every saturday for two years and proudly put that on my resume and got the job teaching at summer camp.

when I was in high school I wanted to be in the arts field and wanted to immerse myself in the community and I did internships at the Power Plant, Canadian Art Magazine, and The Ontario Crafts council - even if I was stuffing envelopes during my shift, I gained experience and saw how these places operated and it helped me with my business skills.

while I was in grad school I had the wonderful opportunity to intern with sculptor/installation artist catherine widgery. I did a lot of production work and it was really helpful to see how an artist balances life and studio work and also that being an artist is not just being in the studio, but a lot of other networking, media relations, working with other people involved in the projects like architects and engineers, also all the research involved.

when I finished grad school I wanted to work at the Art Gallery of Ontario and it was hard to get into the education department, so I wanted to get my foot in the door and looked into being a volunteer, I did my time at the prints and drawing centre, doing talks with the docents. since being a volunteer you were consider staff and the gallery would hire internally first before posting it to the public, every shift I would look at the job postings to see if a teaching position was open and finally one day I saw a teaching posting and applied for the job, and I worked there teaching art for 10 years.

all these volunteer and intern positions were unpaid - the people I met and the experiences I had was invaluable.


  1. So well said!! You just can't put money on such invaluable experiences!!! What a wonderful experience it would be to intern at Bookhou... I would jump at the chance... if only I didn't live so far away :)

  2. well said Arounna! the youth of today need to know what hard work means and that you don't get what you want handed to you on a plate.

  3. I am a mother of 4 children. When I was 37 I went back to school to train as a traditional printmaker. The competition with others wanting to get a paid job was great. I decided to volunteer at a printmaking studio as a teacher. This became a paid job after a year. Invaluable training. My daughter is 23 and started volunteering at a well known radio station here in the UK. She did this alongside working towards her University degree. After 5 months the radio station offered her a full time job with the flexibility to finish her degree. (it is the strangest thing by the way to hear her voice on the radio whilst driving to work!). My 18 year old son is training to be a chef. He also started an unpaid job in a hip cafe in town. 2 weeks ago they offered him a 22 hour per week paid job. He still attends college 4 days a week! I believe volunteering/internships are a real investment in a future and play a role as "free" education. I totally agree with you! If you really want something............

  4. i totally agree with you
    volunteerism is so important
    and can bring you together with people, knowledge and experiences that you would not obtain in any other way

  5. oh yes. So true. The volunteer work I have done, and continue to do, is invaluable in many more ways than a financial "reward" could offer. I think often people are more willing to share and show and tell because you are volunteering and they want to make it worth your while as well. I do hope young people don't forget this - that it's part of growing up and learning. I wish I could intern for you - I can't imagine what skills and knowledge and just general inspiration you would pass on.

  6. I think a lot of people are wary of unpaid internships these days because a lot of bigger companies abuse the idea and use it as a way to get free labour (which reduces the amount of paid work available) rather than to give valuable experience and opportunities to people. But it sounds like you had great interning experiences, and I'm sure that means you'll offer the same to your lucky intern!

  7. Cloud10's point about internships being "free education" was brilliant. That's really what they should be. It's a shame that, as Nina mentions, a lot of bigger companies abuse the concept.

    Love your blog -- too bad I'm on the other side of the country, in BC!

  8. I will love be more next to do that. Your work is very beautiful!

  9. I agree with Nina. A lot of larger organizations tend to use interns for grunt work and don't value the potential they have to contribute more meaningfully. That said, many do understand that an internship is truly a give and take relationship. Good internship experiences lead to both sides feeling fulfilled and rewarded in the end.

    I have had many internship and volunteer experiences, and I've seen both kinds (good and bad). But good internships are out there, and the experience can most definitely be invaluable as Arounna says.

    It sounds as though the internship opportunity at bookhou is a good one. Six hours a week is not abusive, and there are a host of experiences offered which look to benefit both parties.

  10. agreed. if the internship is a valuable one in terms of learning, then it's worth it to the intern to get their foot in the door. i would gladly intern for free in your studio for 6 hours a week.

  11. I would pay you to be your intern! :-)

  12. I totally agree with Geninne.
    Beatriz. Murcia. Spain

  13. if only I lived close
    but I do not

    like the others, I agree
    I have learned so much being an intern

    with greetings
    from the Netherlands!
    Patrice A.

  14. Geninne's comment is exactly what I was thinking :)
    You are smart and wise and talented. An internship with you will be an education that one can actually claim work experience for. Better than many degree programs I would bet.


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