Exploratory Workers

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Paid Internship Policy: This policy applies to Internship positions paid for by Free Geek. It was approved at the Free Geek staff meeting of May 21, 2004.
List of Policies - Policy Development


This was approved at the Free Geek staff meeting of May 21, 2004. based upon an ad hoc committee report and policy proposal. The Staff Categories policy enacted in March 2007 changed things a bit.

It's noteworthy that, prior to March, 2007, the term "Exploratory Interns" was used in the place of "Exploratory Workers". Just to help you through all that older documentation.

Definition of Exploratory Worker

  • Exploratory Workers help Free Geek develop procedures and explore possible new positions.
  • Exploratory workers are paid hourly. Unlike Staff Collective members, they do not receive health care, vacation, sick, retirement, or holiday benefits.
  • Exploratory workers, along with other staff and key volunteers make up Core.

Duration of Position

  • We set Paid Internships to a maximum length of six months, with a 3 month review. However, if necessary, the collective can decide to extend the position once for specific period not to exceed three months. This option should be rarely used.

Expectations for Exploratory Workers

  • Exploratory Workers are expected to develop and document procedures in the area to which they are assigned, working with other staff and volunteers in doing so. Additionally, Exploratory Workers are expected to formally report to the collective and / or the Council.
  • Collective Members, by contrast, are expected to understand how the various areas of Free Geek interact and work on the long term goals of the areas to which they are assigned.

Becoming a Collective Member

Free Geek always holds an open hiring process for collective positions, even if a prospective collective member is already an Exploratory Worker. However, there a mechanism for circumventing that in exceptional cases.

Changing Between Types of Paid worker

If we change a Job Experience Internship into an Exploratory Position, or vice versa, we will go through a standard hiring process, including developing and posting a new job description.


Related policies

Historical precedent

There was a type of collective member that was somewhat similar to the idea of an Exploratory Worker, where the compensation for the position is linked to the amount of income it brings to the organization. This model was used both for the Sales Coordinator and the Printer Coordinator positions. From Council email list, July 2002:

Since FREE GEEK can not risk a full salary for the job, the salary would have to come from increased [income from their activity]. Here is a plan that limits FREE GEEK's risk, encourages the sales coordinator to increase sales, and works up to a regular staff position:

The position would receive compensation on a monthly basis. The compensation would be based on the income brought in from [their activity] based on the following schedule:

  • 25% of the 1st $1,000
  • 40% of the amount over $1,000
  • 50% of the amount over $2,000

The salary would go to a maximum of whatever the prevailing salary of FREE GEEK staff (currently $1,000).

If the [position] could maintain enough of an [increase in] income to justify her salary, then the position would transmogrify into a regular staff [collective] position. At this point the Sales Coordinator would share in all the standard responsibilities of FREE GEEK staff and work a standard (staff determined) schedule. Before this point, the Sales Coordinator would be have the above responsibilities and be required to attend staff meetings and would work whatever schedule necessary to bring the sales income up to a reasonable maximum for FREE GEEK.