Interwiev with Ana

An internship is an opportunity offered by an employer to potential employees, called interns, to work at a firm for a fixed period. Interns are usually undergraduates or students, and most internships last between a month and three months. Internships are usually part-time if offered during a university semester and full-time if offered during the vacation periods. The purpose of the internship is to gain practical skills, workplace experience, and greater knowledge of that industry, in exchange for the employer benefiting from your labor. Often, internships provide employers with cheap (and sometimes even free) labor. Companies usually take students as interns, use their knowledge and skills for accomplishing their tasks, and pay them little (bellow minimum) or nothing for it. Wanting to gain experience for an easier entry into the labor market, students often agrees to very poor internship conditions, such as long hours, or doing tasks that were not part of the contract, without being paid for it. Architectural bureaus are not excluded from this process of exploiting students. On this topic, I talked with Ana, a young architect, who recently got a master’s degree in architecture at the University “Cyril and Methodius”, Skopje.

  • In the beginning, can you please tell us more about you and your education?

Sure, I am Ana, from Prilep, N. Macedonia. I studied architecture at the University “Cyril and Methodius” in Skopje. On 6th October, I officially got my master’s degree. My master thesis title was prototype of a residential block in a rurban area, more specifically living in symbiosis of urban and rural environment.

  • Are you employed ?

I am currently employed in a small architectural office in Prilep.

  • When did you start working?

I started exactly 1 year and 3 months ago. I started as an intern for the first three months, because I was still a student. In the meantime, I finished with all exams and I was promised that I will be employed when that 3 month period ends, but that didn’t happen. I continued as an intern without any payment. I said to myself that at least I will gain experience through this process and soon I will be full-time employed. Then, I was offered part-time employment with minimal pay, which I accept. And finally, after a whole year, I become a full-time employee.

  • What is your job position?

My job position is architect-designer.

  • Can you explain what are your tasks at work?

My task is to fully prepare the project that will be assigned to me. This may include building design, urban planning, interior design, and preparation.

  • Is that job position you wish or you think that you don’t have a choice?

Despite the difficulties, this was my wish. This is what I studied for.

  • What is your employment contract?

Now, I have a contract for an undefined period. But, as I mention that wasn’t the case from the beginning. First, I started as a volunteering intern. Then, I had part-time contract, which I renewed several times.

  • Do you have certain conditions for termination of employment?

I must notify the employer in advance 1 month before leaving the job.

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of this form of work?

If I speak from the point of view of an intern, then there are numerous disadvantages. First, you never know if it is going to turn into full-time employment, or you just did the job for them for free. It is stressful to constantly live with the question of what will happen next month. You can never say if something bothers you, you are doing everything that you’ve been told never complaining about anything. Sometimes that’s not even something that you studied for. Luckily, now I don’t have those problems, at least I feel safe.

  • Are there any changes in your work assignments since you got your master’s degree?

To be honest, not really. Only the volume and obligations of work have increased. This way of working better suits me. Now, I have whole projects, I am not doing only the boring parts.

  • Has the salary changed?

Of course, it did. The salary has increased since I became a Master Engineer Architect.

  • Does the corona crisis affect your work and what kind?

Our work depends on the Municipality of Prilep, which should approve or reject our projects. The impact from the corona crisis was felt when the Municipality had a month of collective leave, due to a large number of infected. In that month we had a delay in the work.

  • How does your job affect your mental health?

It can be stressful sometimes. When I am given a project that I don’t know how to finish, but that happen more at the beginning. As I mention as an intern I was facing major stress. Now, as I gain experience I feel fulfilled, because after all, I am working in the sector that I choose and that I like.

  • And in short, where do you see yourself in the future?

Honestly, the period does not allow us very long-term planning. So far, I’m satisfied with what I have achieved. But I would like to open my own architectural office in the future.

Interview made by: Sara Velkoska

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