Questioning the way things are done

The creative industry continually evolves and disrupts.
Progress is led mainly by market forces.
At its most basic it’s a simple transaction: we trade creativity for money.
At least that’s how it is meant to work.

Problem is, globally, that process is broken.
Skilled graduates are working for free to get their foot in the door
At another time in history, this may have been called slavery.

First: a global view…

A global story about unpaid internships


It’s a great summary of why I am so invested in changing the creative industry’s attitude to unpaid internships.

Unpaid internships are

  • bad for our industry (an unfair playing field where some creative’s business model is based on an unpaid workforce),
  • bad for society (unpaid internships lack diversity as only the privileged can afford to work for free) and
  • bad for graduates (who leave university with a debt only to incur more debt while working for free).

And did I mention they’re illegal in Australia?

Take away

The first step is self-enforcement. Please sign this pledge to support minimum standards for internships.

It’s the start of stamping out unfair work practices, and it’s one way Australia can lead the world.

    What do you think? Got any problems/questions? As always, happy to discuss further, just email.

    Carol Mackay

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    Want more?

    These articles talk more about our research in the creative industry:

    1. An article about asking the bigger questions, written by Jim Antonopoulos
    2. Other risks to our industry and how to avoid them.
    3. Using knowledge from the health industry to learn more about project management
    4. I’m talking to recruiters across Australia to build knowledge about ‘what’s a fair wage?’

    About Carol Mackay

    After 30+ years running a graphic design firm, Carol pivoted from client-focused projects to consult to the design industry.

    Carol’s special power has always been an ability to use design to translate difficult to understand or complex messages. She believes design brings clarity to complex issues. From clarity comes understanding, and understanding leads to knowledge.

    As a designer she used those skills with clients like The Magistrates, County and Supreme Courts; Ombudsman schemes and Emergency Service agencies. At DBC she uses the same skills to help designers de-mystify the complexities of managing a small business.

    Outside of DBC Carol mentors graduates and is an active volunteer at Never Not Creative, a community of creatives pushing for change in the creative industry.


    An archive of Carol’s previous career is at
    Current work can be viewed at and

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