Ready to apply for an internship? Would you accept an unpaid offer? Why or why not?
Here are two reasons why you must not accept unpaid internships:
Nathan Parcells, co-founder and CMO of InternMatch, an online platform connecting the best intern candidates and employers, says, “The repercussions of unpaid internships go beyond compensation. Unpaid interns are not seen as employees in the eyes of the law, and therefore do not have legal protection against workplace discrimination such as sexual harassment or arbitrary dismissal.”
Being aware of what an unpaid internship entails in the long run is a knowledge you must have before even applying for such a position. InternMatch offers advice on their blog, as well as through our internship forum where students can ask specific questions. “In addition, InternMatch’s Intern Bill of Rights illustrates some features all internships should have, such as ample work opportunities and legal protection against workplace discrimination. Current and future interns should use these retargets as guides to see the state of their internship, as well as what can be done if they are faced with a possible legal issue.” Parcells adds.
Most applicants are not aware of the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act. Internship candidates need to do their research. Nathan Parcells says, “Staying knowledgeable about the FLSA, ensuring they’re getting compensated in some way, and gaining the right experience are all ways to understand a good experience over a bad one, and the steps to take to eliminate any problems.”
It is quite likely that the company that not pay for internships is not getting in great talent for the offered positions. Why? Because most of the awesome companies are already offering paid internships and it’s a no brainer that the smarter talent is gravitating there. Of course, with some start-ups as an exception it would be to their advantage that they offer some incentives to their unpaid interns at present or in near future. Note to the employers: Either way, it just pays to pay your interns, you are ensured of a better return on your investment.
Parcells says, “Paid interns are more likely to get hired, are more valued by their employer, and create a more diverse workplace. These factors alone illustrate that paid internships offer grads a better experience, now and in the future.
Internship candidates need to thoroughly research organizations to evaluate rates of hire. This can be done by talking to former interns, checking out forums, or reading about the program itself. In addition, during the interview process, interns should assert their desire to stay on after program completion, which shows their enthusiasm and commitment to the organization.”
Since the final goal of the internship (most often) is to get hired by the company you are interning with or any other in similar filed, Parcells share the most important tip to make any internship a success – “Go above and beyond during your internship. After all, an internship employer will want to keep on good workers. Proving they’re an asset is how interns can increase the chances that they’ll be hired.”
InternMatch’s advice to interns:
- Evaluate the internship program before accepting. What type of experience will it provide? What have past interns said about it?
- Evaluate the internship you’re in. Is it giving you what you need and expected?
- Not accept an unpaid internship. Unpaid internships hurt the economy, and open the door to discrimination.
- Figure out if an internship program is supported from the top down. Is there only one person supporting the program at the organization? If so, it could go away at any minute.
Here’s a cool and informative infographic on the employer guide to intern compensation: