Seeing unpaid (and underpaid) internships, which have become a "right of passage," as a catch-22, Lubell evaluates the positive and negative aspects of what has "become a staple of architecture."
Lubell sees the widespread practice as aiding in lowering the value of architecture altogether. "It's just the tip of the iceberg in a profession that seems intent on continuously lowering the bar, from allowing others to call themselves architects to loosening requirements on the need for registered architects..."
"Architect Alvin Huang of LA firm Synthesis explained how not paying young architects feeds an ongoing cycle: 'We'll draw it and revise a thousand times because it is part of our process. And part of our process is enabled by exploitation. It becomes a cyclical burden that is packaged as a rite of passage, and that institutionalizes exploitation in the culture of design.' He added, 'I think there is a clear metaphor that relates to figuratively living beyond your means.'"
Kevin Fitzgerald, director of the AIA's Center for Emerging Professionals, suggests that earning college credit in exchange for internship duties can be an ethical way to compensate interns for their work.
Disclosure: Planetizen offers limited-term unpaid editorial internship positions and prefers candidates who receive college credit in exchange for their service.