When many people think of unpaid internships they might think of fetching coffee or sorting mail. They rarely think of unpaid interns as performing some of the primary jobs of the industry.
Internships have long been a way for new professionals to gain experience and get a foot in the door in a particular industry. Many people are willing to take unpaid internships in the hope it will mean greater opportunity for them later in their career.
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does allow companies to use unpaid interns, but only if the internship is considered a valuable learning opportunity for the intern. That means it must be comparable to taking a class on a related subject, and the company cannot significant benefit from the work the unpaid interns performed. Continue reading