Many students, as well as those changing careers, turn to internships as a valuable way to gain experience and insight into a job. Students and recent college-graduates see internships as a stepping stone to employment, with some companies hiring interns permanently, or at the very least, providing networking opportunities. With the increasing competitiveness of the job force, having an internship on a resume could be a deciding factor in getting a dream job. Companies could benefit as well, using interns as a low-cost way to tackle projects as well as look for potential new hires. Types of internships vary, and a lot of companies offer unpaid internships. But is this a good idea?
Ideally, internships should be mutually beneficial, with the intern gaining a valuable learning experience and the company gaining fresh perspectives and injecting new life in to a project or task. With companies increasingly concerned about the bottom line, unpaid internships have become very popular. While some interns gladly accept this offer in return for resume filler, others accuse companies of using these internships as free labor -- a few have even filed lawsuits.
These class suits drew a lot of attention, and according to USA Today, resulted in fewer offerings of unpaid internships, as companies do not want to take on the risk of a potential lawsuit. However, a simple search of any online job site will find hundreds of unpaid internships still being offered.
It is true some of these are completely legitimate; plenty of students will still jump at the chance to put in unpaid hours with a publishing company or film studio in return for training in a very specific and competitive job field. To stay on the right side of labor laws, companies should take special care to make sure they are fulfilling the legal requirements of a training program, and not simply looking for someone to complete undesirable tasks such as making coffee, filing or filling out paperwork.