Monday, July 21, 2014

Unpaid internships may cost more than you expect...

Several times over the last year students and new graduates have contacted me asking if they could work with us and that they would do it for free. They wanted an unpaid internship. They were hoping to build experience and maybe earn a full time position. As I have told them, a business cannot use unpaid interns to make money for the business. For me, I believe I could only have an unpaid intern working on pro bono cases. Below is a link to an article that explains the issues in much more detail:

"When it Comes to Volunteers and Unpaid Interns There is No Such Thing As a Free Lunch"

The article also gives tips on how a company might be able to use free interns on a limited basis. The article talks about offering tasks to be completed on the intern's own time at home. As an attorney, I would be concerned with privacy and confidentiality issues. Other industries and businesses will have similar concerns.

While I agree aspiring professionals could learn a great deal from working with a company; even for free, I can also see the potential for a company to exploit and abuse the use of free interns. So if you are a business person that thinks you can appropriately use an unpaid intern and before you agree to take on an unpaid intern, make sure you discuss it with your corporate counsel or attorney.

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