Must more students be paid for their work?
Once the province of young doctors-in-training, the student internship has become an expected—if not required—part of a college education in nearly every discipline. About 60 percent of graduating seniors in 2014 had at least one internship, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. But a spate of high-profile lawsuits has alleged that unpaid internships are exploitive because they allow employers to violate minimum wage laws by assigning work to unpaid student help. These court cases, as well as renewed interest in an old legal test restricting the use of unpaid interns, have led a growing number of employers to end their programs and others to turn their internships into paying jobs. As the debate over internships intensifies, states are increasingly passing legislation giving interns the same legal protections as permanent employees in an effort to protect them from workplace harassment and discrimination.
Berger, Lauren, “All Work, No Pay: Finding an Internship, Building Your Résumé, Making Connections and Gaining Job Experience,” Ten Speed Press, 2012. The founder of InternQueen.com, a job site that matches businesses with interns, offers strategies for choosing and landing internships and reviews U.S. Department of Labor regulations for unpaid internships.
Perlin, Ross, “Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy,” Verso, 2011. A writer, linguist and former intern specializing in labor-related topics posits that most internships are exploitative and illegal.
Bacon, Natalie, “Unpaid Internships: The History, Policy and Future Implications of ‘Fact Sheet #71,’” Ohio State Entrepreneurial Law Journal, 2011, http://tinyurl.com/
Bird, Bernice, “Preventing Employer Misclassification of Student Interns and Trainees,” Cornell HR Review, Feb. 18, 2012, http://tinyurl.com/
Curiale, Jessica, “America's New Glass Ceiling: Unpaid Internships, the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Urgent Need for Change,” Hastings Law Journal, University of California, Hastings, 2010; available at SSRN, http://tinyurl.com/
Greenhouse, Steven, “The Unpaid Intern, Legal or Not,” The New York Times, April 2, 2010, http://tinyurl.com/
Hickman, Blair, et al., “Internships,” ProPublica, 2013–14, http://tinyurl.com/
Reports and Studies
“Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under the Fair Labor Standards Act,” U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, 2010, http://tinyurl.com/
Edwards, Kathryn Anne, and Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, “Not-So-Equal Protection—Reforming the Regulation of Student Internships,” Economic Policy Institute, 2010, http://tinyurl.com/
Gardner, Phil, “The Debate Over Unpaid College Internships,” Intern Bridge, 2010, http://tinyurl.com/
Shindell, Robert, “The Business Case for Paying Interns,” Intern Bridge, 2012, http://tinyurl.com/
Walker, Robert Bruce, “Business internships and their relationship with retention, academic performance, and degree completion,” Iowa State University, 2011, http://tinyurl.com/
The Next Step
Fabris, Casey, “College Students Think They're Ready for the Work Force. Employers Aren't So Sure,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 20, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Gellman, Lindsay, and Shayndi Raice, “Banks Reassess Internship Programs, Relax Rules for Junior Employees,” The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 11, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Kaur, Harmeet, “Study: Less than half of grads receive formal job training at new gigs,” USA Today, June 18, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Burns, Judith, “Unpaid internships ‘favour the rich,’” BBC News, Nov. 11, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
O'Connor, Sarah, and Elizabeth Rigby, “Employers warn against curbs on unpaid interns,” Financial Times (U.K.), Dec. 15, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Schonfeld, Zach, “In Another Blow to Free Labor, Columbia University Halts Academic Credit for Internship,” Newsweek, Feb. 28, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Nicks, Denver, “Condé Nast Interns Settle for $5.85M,” Time, Nov. 14, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Raab, Lauren, “‘Late Show With David Letterman’ ex-intern drops class-action lawsuit,” Los Angeles Times, Sept. 10, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Zara, Christopher, “‘Saturday Night Live’ Intern Lawsuit: NBCUniversal Will Pay Massive $6.4M In Settlement, Or About $505 For Each Intern,” International Business Times, Oct. 24, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Bilton, Nick, “Some Tech Interns Make More Than U.S. Workers,” Bits, The New York Times, March 1, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Elmer, Vickie, “Some companies would rather get rid of interns than pay them,” Quartz, May 7, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Zillman, Claire, “Fox: Interns who benefit from internship don't deserve pay,” Fortune, July 16, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Cooperative Education and Internship Association
P.O. Box 42506, Cincinnati, Ohio 45242
Trade association for students, employers and educators involved in the administration of cooperative education and internship programs.
Economic Policy Institute
1333 H St., N.W., Suite 300, Washington, DC 20005-4707
Think tank that advocates for low- and middle-income workers in economic policy discussions.
11113 Persimmon Gap Drive, Austin, TX 78717
Research and consulting firm that publishes reports, puts on workshops and helps employers structure internship programs.
Intern Queen Inc.
Information source and job listing site for internships.
National Association of Colleges and Employers
62 Highland Ave., Bethlehem, PA 18017
Trade association for college career services professionals and business recruiting professionals involved in placing college interns and hiring college graduates.
Outten & Golden
3 Park Ave., 29th Floor, New York, NY 10016
Law firm specializing in workplace issues; represents plaintiffs in several class-action suits brought by unpaid interns against their employers.
Wage and Hour Division, U.S. Department of Labor
Frances Perkins Building, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20210
U.S. government agency that enforces the federal minimum wage, overtime pay, record keeping and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act.