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Posted February 13, 2017 by

Don’t ask, “Do we have to pay interns?” The answer is always yes.

 

A common question in the space of college recruitment and talent acquisition is, “Should interns be paid?” Sometimes, unfortunately, the variation is “Do we have to pay interns?” In fact, there are over 7.4 million Google search results for that latter question, with the No. 1 hit typically being this ProPublica article asking “When is it OK not to pay an intern?” However, I look at it from the other side. In short: you should and need to pay interns. 

First of all, paying interns is a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) issue. In the broadest terms, government and non-profits do not need to pay interns, whereas for-profit companies do need to pay interns. The U.S. Department of Labor actually developed six criteria for determining whether an intern can work unpaid. (You can find everything on the sexily-titled “U.S. Department of Labor Fact Sheet Number 71.”)

The fourth criterion is worded as “… the employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern …”

As College Recruiter president Steven Rothberg puts it, “I defy anyone to provide an example of an internship designed to deliver absolutely zero value to the employer.”

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