Q. I’m confused by all the news articles focusing on the legal issues regarding internships. How can I find out what our company can do or not do in accordance with the law?

August 3, 2010 at 11:33 am Leave a comment

by the Intern Coach

A. Excellent question!  Since so many students want internships and hundreds of companies are starting internship programs, the ground rules have been constantly changing. In the past, schools managed all the internship programs for their students, utilizing the same companies every year. Thanks to the growing number of online internship sites, such as internships.com, students have a far wider selection. As an employer, you are faced with figuring out what applies to you. Here are some tips to help you: 

  • Every day, a new challenge arises to question the legal status of internship programs. The sources that you might want to pay strict attention to (and those that will probably be paying strict attention to you) involve pronouncements by state or federal governments. Each state seems to be issuing different regulations or rules governing internships. Review what your state is doing and see if your program is in compliance. Also, monitor the federal legislation that is studying the internship situation.
  • Confer with your legal department or company lawyer on the legal issues surrounding internships. You may find that your legal expert will err on the side of conservatism in terms of meeting regulations in order to protect you and your company. You’ll probably want to act accordingly. If in doubt about paid or non-paid internships or credit or no credit, you could appoint a committee to review all the legislation and discussion and make a recommendation on how your company should proceed.
  • Compare notes on internship programs with other companies that are similar to yours, such as public or private, small or large, domestic or international, etc. Find out if they’ve run into any problems and if so, how they’ve solved them. You could also meet with the college career centers that send you interns and determine their requirements for your company before you agree to accept any interns.
  • For further protection, you might ask interns to sign off that they understand and accept the conditions of the internship before they begin one at your company. Do remember that internships are win-win situations for companies and students, so don’t be put off by the confusing news articles on internships.

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Q. When I told our interns that they were under dressing for work, they blamed the hot summer weather for their scanty outfits. What should I do? As a small business, how can we make sure we meet the right candidates out of all our internship applicants?

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This blog is dedicated to employers with a focus on how to hire and manage interns effectively. We will have a variety of experts who will share helpful ideas, tips and more. We invite you to comment, ask questions and share your experiences. You are also welcome to submit written contributions to this blog.

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