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  • Isabella Johnston

Part I Rethink Internships - Do you have a program?

Part I


Three interns working at a coworking space.

Rethink Intern Management

Remember when you were looking for your first job and found an internship that you thought would be an incredible opportunity? Then, it turned out to be disappointing. Training employees take time, patience and planning. They will ask lots of questions, can be tough to manage and need guidance.


Having 15 years’ experience working with adult learners, I have learned that having a process that effectively manages intern talent makes for a dynamic experience for the intern and for the business owner. Pivot Business Consulting specializes in creating intern programs that benefits the intern first and then the business.This focus is a win/win and provides an opportunity to convert interns into full-time employees. Keeping the federal criteria in mind is a critical component when creating intern programs for our clients. I offer a disclaimer that I am not an attorney nor offering any legal advice. The federal guidelines are broken down into manageable reading bites.


Let’s start with definitions. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) defines the term “employ” very broadly as including to “suffer or permit to work.” Covered and nonexempt individuals who are “suffered or permitted” to work must be compensated under the law for the services they perform for an employer. Internships in the “for-profit” private sector will most often be viewed as employment, unless the test described below relating to trainees is met. Interns in the “for-profit” private sector who qualify as employees rather than trainees typically must be paid at least the minimum wage and overtime compensation for hours worked over forty in a workweek.


The Test For Unpaid Interns

There are some circumstances under which individuals who participate in “for-profit” private sector internships or training programs may do so without compensation. The Supreme Court has held that the term "suffer or permit to work" cannot be interpreted so as to make a person whose work serves only his or her own interest an employee of another who provides aid or instruction. This may apply to interns who receive training for their own educational benefit if the training meets certain criteria. The determination of whether an internship or training program meets this exclusion depends upon all of the facts and circumstances of each such program. Stay tune for the 6 criteria that have to be applied when determining whether the internship or training program meets the exclusion requirements.

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