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Oohh, Internships, eh?

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Oohh, Internships, eh?
AWN Forums get a lot of folks querying about internships, and there's a few "offers" looking for interns out there. There's a lot of myths, misinformation and confusion out there too.
If you are looking for internships, then this is the sort of thing that you need to be aware of and investigate. There are hard questions to ask, to be asked, and if you are in an internship right now, you might want to take stock of the situation and find out what your rights might be.
The linked article provides some small background on the internship regulations in one Canadian province and the USA--its not universal coverage by a long shot. Your situation may well be different, depending on the laws and standards in your hometown/homeland.

Look, some folks out there don't want you to learn about the legal stuff--they say that artists should be all about creativity, passion etc.

Fuck 'em.

Learn about this stuff, get the truth. Let the info serve you.
If your rights are being abused, call the abuser on it. If you live and work within the jurisdictions where regulations like these apply, and you are having demands placed on you while interning in a animation situation, then understand that you are being wronged and that you can claim restitution.

Its been a long time mantra of some folks around here: do not work for free.
Do not work for free, unless you fully understand what your rights and the conditions are. Don't be taken advantage of. Don't assume--find out the facts as they apply to you and where you are. Don't the folks at the studio--oh c'mon.......they will lie to you. Find out the facts from your local government or labour board yourself.

This can make your career better, it can make your industry better--but you have to know what the reality is, and what you can do about it......and then if changes need to be made, to actually do something about it.

Ken Davis's picture

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

"We all grow older, we do not have to grow up"--Archie Goodwin ( 1937-1998)

No job is so awesome that one can feel good about not being able to afford a cup of coffee, IMHO. (My previous company, albeit not animation, would always give a cheque to the high school kids who came in for work placements) I may just be getting older and crustier, but I don't see how passion for one's art = will work all day and all night for free, and if really lucky there might even be a slice of cold pizza. Unless the company was providing free onsite accommodation and food, and even then...

And then there was this link in the article, the last part of which made me really angry:

Before schools appeared everywhere the animation industry had a kind of apprenticeship program as folks worked their way up from clean-up artist to inbetweener to assistant animator to animator, etc.

Heck, Chuck Jones started as a cel-washer - can't get any lower than that, right?

Now, some companies take advantage of the situation and feed on the young coming out of school.

Even Disney would blend their interns in with their regular artists to work on their feature films. Of course the interns were paid only a fraction of what the regulars received. This practice continues even today... at least they are paid enough to live on... not thrive but live.

How could a company expect an intern not to be paid? I would question the practices of such a company. At least they could provide basements for interns to live.;)


It is my understanding that labor laws have a good handle on this so it might be that this is an enforcement issue. I will see if I can find the article I read and post it.

Craig's List is filled with "internship" opportunities. They always look like bottom feeders to me. From what I can tell, larger studios only bring on interns enrolled in a school. I did my internship through University which means I earned credits (that I didn't need) and so PAID to intern. But it was a great opportunity and lead to good things.

The studio pretty much explained all 6 conditions especially this one:

3 . The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff.

You are NOT there to do someone else's job or cover someone who's on sick leave. You may do some of their tasks but not all of their tasks all of the time. I rotated through departments and responsibilities. It was fantastic.

Good luck to all, it's tough out there.

Internship is a system of on-the-job training for white-collar jobs, similar to an apprenticeship. Interns are usually college or university students, but they can also be high school students or post graduate adults seeking skills for a new career. They may also be as young as middle school or in some cases elementary students. Student internships provide opportunities for students to gain experience in their field, determine if they have an interest in a particular career, create a network of contacts, or gain school credit. Internships provide employers with cheap or free labor for low-level tasks.