During their discussion of SAA’s Strategic Plan at the November 2019 meeting, the SAA Council determined that the organization would no longer allow unpaid internships to be posted in the SAA Career Center’s Internship Directory. The following changes have been made to the website to make this decision clear to both internship seekers and posters:
- The tab listing internship opportunities in the Career Center is now labeled “Paid Internships;”
- The language on that page now states: “SAA strongly encourages employers to value archival graduate students’ skills by providing monetary compensation for their work commensurate with the qualifications required for the position. If monetary compensation is not indicated in the internship description, the position will not be posted to this directory;”
- The “Create a New Job” form now states, under the “Level” field: “All internship positions must be paid/offer a monetary stipend. If monetary compensation is not indicated, the position will not be posted to the directory;” and
- SAA staff are now moderating all submissions to ensure that only paid internship opportunities are listed on the job board.
The decision to allow only paid internships on the SAA Career Center aligns with SAA’s Strategic Plan and its goal to advocate for archives and archivists. Specifically, it addresses our stated desires to “provide leadership in promoting the value of archives and archivists to institutions, communities, and society” and to “educate and influence decisions makers in any setting about the importance of archives and archivists.”
Archival labor is valuable, and individuals performing this work should be compensated accordingly. Paid internships are important for diversifying our field and recognizing the value of our profession. We urge all prospective internship supervisors to advocate for funding to support the work of their interns.
I applaud SAA’s efforts to diversify our field and promote tangible value of our profession. I hope this policy helps in this effort. At the risk of stating the obvious, I will point out that the policy will limit the range of opportunities prospective interns will find in the SAA Career Center. Institutions that can’t afford to pay interns will also miss out on meeting these people.
I applaud SAA Council’s efforts to diversify our field and recognize the value of our profession. Providing compensation for work is something many institutions probably can and should do. I am sure Council also recognizes that many institutions won’t be able to compensate interns in monetary terms. Prospective interns will need to understand that future Career Center listings will be providing a limited view of available opportunities. I suggest that the Career Center post a notice to that effect as well.