By Kourtney Walker, Associate Director, Employer Relations, Career and Professional Development Services
Internships can provide benefits for students and employers, but one of the top question employers have is, “Do I pay for an internship or have it unpaid?” In the past, many internships were considered unpaid, but the trend seems to have changed and many more employers are offering paid internships. Please note that there isn’t a right or wrong way to offer an internship.
Offering paid internships can attract more student applicants and help you reach your ideal candidates faster than unpaid. Another benefit of offering a paid internship is being able to avoid any wage and hour litigation issues, especially when concerning the US. Fair Labor Standards Act.
Unpaid internships can be just as competitive as paid internships but the posting needs to clearly highlight resources and learning outcomes such as mentoring, training, competences and valuable skills the intern will develop.
Still not sure if you should offer a paid or unpaid internship? The U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has a test created by the Courts to use as a “primary beneficiary test” and to help with making the determination.
Another great resource is the “15 Best Practices for Internship Programs” article provided by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).
Ultimately, the goal of the internship is to provide the student with valuable learning outcomes and hands-on experience within your organization and industry. By providing a positive learning experience for the student, the internship can result in increased brand awareness, positive feedback, and even a pipeline of great candidates towards full-time career positions.
If you have further questions, please feel free to reach out to ASU’s Career and Professional Development Services. We have an entire team dedicated to employer relations who are ready and willing to assist!