Unpaid internships are exploitative and undermine diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. The design world (and beyond) deserves better.
An internship is "a period of work experience offered by an organization for a limited period of time" (Ohio State). They provide professional work experience to someone who is either in school, recently graduated, or in some way lacking and in need of professional work experience in a specific field or environment, for example someone working in a new city for the first time (RGD).
According to the Canadian Federal labour standards for interns and student interns, some internships may be unpaid, particularly those that are part of an educational program.
Based on RGD By-Laws which includes the need to abide by existing labour laws, RGDs who employ interns must meet government mandated labour and minimum wage standards for internships that are not part of an accredited educational program.
For more information and guidelines visit the Resources section.
Minumum Wage vs. Living Wage
Many design studios and agencies alike are prioritizing equity by raising the standard on intern wages.
A living wage is the hourly wage a worker needs to earn to cover their basic expenses and participate in their community. A living wage is not the same as the minimum wage ($16.55/hr), which is the legislated minimum all employers must pay and is set by the provincial government. The living wage reflects what people need to earn to cover the actual costs of living in their community.
As of November 2023, the Toronto Living Wage is $25.05/hr—an 8.2% increase from 2022.
Adding a Studio
We would like to keep this database growing. Do you run, work at, or know a studio or firm that belongs on this list?
Contact us with your studio name, work type, and wage details (minimum or living).
Pay Design Interns was established on the traditional territory of many nations including the Mazina'iga-ziibing Misi-zaagiwininiwag (Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation), the ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᒃ (Anishnaabeg), the ᐅᒋᑉᐧᐁ (ᒋᑉᐯᐧᐊ) (Chippewa), the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples.