Tool #5: Using your internship as a worplace inquiry

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If you can’t (or don’t want to) avoid doing an internship, as an interesting exercise you can use your time to inquire into the economies and organisational politics of your workplace. In informal moments such as coffee breaks, you could find out about:

• How much do people earn? What contract do other workers have? Do they get sick leave? Are they part of a pension scheme?
• How much overtime are people putting into that workplace? Is that time paid?
• How long have people been working there? Are they satisfied with their job?
• Are workers unionised or part of professional organisations?
• What is the gender balance? Does the organisational style of the studio/organisation allow for diversity?
• How much does the studio/organisation earn?
• What is the legal form of the studio/organisation? Who gains from the work performed in and through the studio/organisation?
• What is the management style? What power relations are there and how are they played out?
• Is the owner of the studio/boss of the organisation overworked?
• How does the studio/organisation access commissions/funding?

When doing such an inquiry, try to find friends or peers to share your findings with – you could even get them to pursue such an inquiry in their own workplace. This way your inquiry can become a learning experience that reaches beyond yourself and can not only contribute to reshaping how designers relate to work, but also to how you and your peers might want to organise your own practice in the future.

Last edit: 19.06.2014