Unpaid Internships

Barkan Meizlish , May 14, 2015

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) allows unpaid internships for “for profit” private sector employers in certain circumstances.  For example, an unpaid internship is legal if it “is for the benefit of the intern” and “similar to the training which would be given in an educational environment.” However, the growing appeal of practical or “real world” experience on a resume has made unpaid internships a common practice, and both students and organizations are beginning to speak out.

On one hand, some students feel compelled to “take whatever they can get,” viewing the lack of compensation as an equal exchange for the internship’s valuable educational experience.  But not all students can afford to provide free labor while missing out on a paid job.  Advocates for paid internships also point out that unpaid internships create a lack of incentive in both students and employers.  For instance, the incentive to teach may not be as great if the employer has nothing to lose.  In turn, students may not be as motivated to contribute their time without receiving financial benefits.

Source:  Megan Weyrauch, What Students Think of Your Unpaid Internships, ULOOP, OHIO STATE BUSINESS NEWS (September 19, 2013),  http://osu.uloop.com/news/view.php/99044/what-students-think-of-your-unpaid-internships. 

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