What you need to know about Interns

All you need to know about Interns.



 A former colleague once told me that New York City runs of interns. While she was joking, there was some truth to her statement. Interns have long been used – and also – misused in the workplace. As one Park Slope parent points out, "they need to be approached as primarily a mentoring experience." Not only that, the United States and the New York City Department of Labor has carefully mapped out the Do’s and Don’ts of how to manage your intern.



Here is all you need to know--


What the law stipulates:


The U.S. Department Of Labor Fact Sheet stipulates that an internship must meet 6 criteria for it to be unpaid.  These required federal criteria are (straight from the fact sheet):


1) The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;

2) The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;

3) The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;

4) The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;

5) The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and

6) The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.


Useful Reading:


Here are two articles from the New York Times on the topic:


The Uses and Uses of Unpaid Internships

Unpaid Internships Don’t Always Deliver

The Unpaid Intern: Legal or Not


Here are tips and hints of how PSP parents manage their interns:


Why every business, big or small, needs an intern:


“I think the most underrated benefit is the energy Interns bring in and its impact on the working environment/culture. Interns are normally SUPER excited that they just landed their first real-world job, they want to get the most exposure and have the most 'can-do' attitude, not to mention the amazing new ideas and out-of-the box thinking that they bring in.

Overall, minimum wage is a very small cost (although I prefer term investment here) given the overall benefits (ROI). I wonder what the opportunity cost to companies for not having such foresight.”


Notice the Profit verus Non Profit distinction:


“Non-profit and public sector workplaces have more wiggle room as they can argue for interns being a kind of volunteer.”


One lawyer writes, treat your intern like your shadow:


“Internships are too often used as a means to get free labor, but they are supposed to benefit the students more than anything. I accepted an intern from an NYC high school who will be getting school credit and I approach it more as a shadowing/mentoring thing then as having another employee.  He is doing things like coming to court with me and sitting in on depositions as opposed to making copies and filing.”


The test:


“A good test is that if a company is consistently using interns to do jobs that a paid employee used to, could or should be doing, they are probably treading on shaky ground.”