Interns Should Be Paid If They’re Billable

This post is intended for agencies and companies beginning their searches for summer interns.

While most major agencies pay their temporary help,  many smaller firms and start ups often recruit unpaid interns. In cases where interns perform work that normally would be done by billable employees, interns should receive some form of financial compensation.

Unpaid internships should be confined to those who essentially spend a week or so shadowing activities of agency professionals or those volunteering at nonprofit organizations. Students working for academic credit also fall under the unpaid banner, but the better employers of these interns often provide some form of subsistence income to cover transportation and lunch.

Increasingly, nonprofits are paying for their interns—realizing they get better and more productive talent if they pay for the help.  Most firms know the regulations governing interns, but some skirt the law by masking their internships as great experiences for aspiring practitioners.  These should be internships of last resort.  And avoid companies that offer internships that charge students for the opportunity to work for them.

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