Interns in the Workplace

Internships are an excellent way to facilitate success for today's workload and tomorrow's workforce. Offering internships at your company adds value and provides many positive benefits for your organization. However, gaining knowledge of the risks and rewards of internships, including the lingering question of paid versus unpaid interns, will help safeguard your company and your employees.

Internships provide several benefits to the intern, the organization, other employees and to the community. The following list includes various perks and benefits a company may experience by offering internships:

  1. Locate future employees - Internships provide employers the opportunity to see potential future employees in action prior to making a full-time commitment for permanent placement.
  2. Test drive the talent - Hiring an intern is one of the most effective ways to evaluate his/her potential as a full-time employee. Some employers consider an internship a "three month interview". Interns bring new perspectives to old problems which can help alleviate mistakes when the company is interested in hiring full-time employees.
  3. Increase productivity - Summer internships allow your company to take advantage of short-term support.
  4. Enhance perspective - Not only does an intern provide an extra set of hands to provide additional support, but he/she may also offer fresh ideas, new perspectives and specialized strengths and skill sets to a company.
  5. Take advantage of low-cost labor - Interns are a flexible, cost-effective workforce which do not require a long-term employer commitment. Providing internships is a cost-effective way to recruit new talent.
  6. Support students – Student interns gain experience, develop skills, make connections by networking, strengthen their resumes, learn about their field of study and evaluate their interests and abilities.
  7. Benefit your company - Many student interns feel they will receive more hands-on training, real-life experiences and mentoring opportunities during an internship. It is important to ensure your company has a learning practice and/or training program in place. Typically when interns are seeking full-time employment, the top talent often remembers their learning experiences throughout their internships.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate is higher among college students and recent graduates. For those young individuals who are unable to find paid work, an unpaid internship might seem like a great method to gain experience and potential future job placement. Likewise, for employers, receiving free labor may be too appealing to ignore. However, there are some legal requirements which employers must be aware of before considering unpaid internships. The Department of Labor has very strict guidelines which must be met before an individual can be classified as an unpaid intern rather than an employee, and therefore be exempt from the minimum wage laws.

Due to the uncertainty of internship legality, Creative Business Solutions recommends having an attorney review your current internship program and evaluate any potential risks. Creative Business Solutions works with many businesses employing interns and would be pleased to discuss the benefits and risks for your business, as well as any other HR related issues your company may be experiencing.

Walling v. Portland Terminal Co., 330 U.S. 148 (1947)
Fair Labor Standards Act

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