In ancient Rome, an architect named Vitruvius published what became his magnum opus “The Books on Architecture” is 25 BC. He suggested that a temple couldn’t be built unless it conforms exactly to the principle relating to the members of a well-shaped man. Many of us are familiar with this thought; the body of an outstretched man could be made to fit within both a circle and a square. Back in Virtuvius’ day, the circle signified the cosmic and the divine, the square represented the earthly and the secular. About five hundred years later, Leonardo Da Vinci comes along and sketches the Vitruvian Man. In many respects, this is what we do. We take the classical and attempt to transcend it, creating a world in which we best our financial challenges.
I stumbled across a couple of things this past weekend that I thought we should discuss. The first is internship. It is a collegiate right of passage, a time when you are employed – so to speak – without pay in the hopes that you will gain experience in the field you have chosen. I mentioned Leonardo because he had no such internship. He was a self-taught artist and one who had to elevate what he did above those who were born of higher incomes.
So I posed the question: how do we view the intern? Is it illegal or worse, unethical to not pay someone to gain experience, in a sense, to create a model of how things are done? Does it create a situation where those who can afford to intern accept their internship without hardship while those who can’t, do not? Does it add to unemployment? Is the intern safe in the workplace, governed by the laws that protect workers? Who gains financially from the arrangement?