With the summer season upon us, many organizations are opening their doors to interns looking to gain valuable work experience and bolster their resumes. Hiring interns can be a win for employers too, as it is often an important step in recruiting top talent. According to recent data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 60 percent of college graduates who worked as a paid intern also received a full-time job offer. 

Simple Tips for Building a Valuable, Compliant Internship Program

With the summer season upon us, many organizations are opening their doors to interns looking to gain valuable work experience and bolster their resumes. Hiring interns can be a win for employers too, as it is often an important step in recruiting top talent. According to recent data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 60 percent of college graduates who worked as a paid intern also received a full-time job offer.

“At Ceridian, we find that interns can really bring value to our organization, our community and, of course, the interns we hire. We strive to give our interns as many learning opportunities as we can by creating meaningful work for them and involving them in a variety of activities.” 

-- Tony Campisi, senior talent acquisition manager at Ceridian

The employer-intern relationship can play a pivotal role in setting young interns up for long-term career success; however, there are also certain compliance challenges that come with hiring an intern. Below are five ways to add value to your internship program, as well as some criteria for keeping your internship program in compliance with the Department of Labor (DOL) regulations.

Five ways to add value to your internship program

  1. Engage interns as you would a full-time employee

Just because an intern may only be with your company for a few weeks or months doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time and resources to acclimate them to the company and fully train them on the tools and technology they’ll need to perform their duties. Once the intern has completed new-hire training, encourage them to participate in company-wide engagement activities and events. After all, if your interns have a positive experience with your company, they’ll be more likely to advocate for you even after they’ve left.

  1. Encourage networking

Help interns build their professional networks by providing opportunities to interact with employees of all levels. This helps increase an intern’s exposure to different functional areas and might also prove to be mutually beneficial down the road.

  1. Be inclusive in meetings

Although you may think it’s boring for an intern to sit in on meetings, it’s one of the best ways for them to see the inner-workings of the organization. It also helps them feel like a valuable part of the company by allowing them to share feedback and offer new ideas.

  1. Provide them with meaningful work

One of the best ways to learn is by doing. By providing interns with meaningful, well-organized projects, you’re setting them up for success through regular feedback and guidance, and you’re helping them learn new skills.

  1. Look to hire

Recruitment can be a big piece of internship programs, and companies should emphasize the potential opportunities for full-time employment once the internship has been completed.

Tackling internship compliance woes

Despite the value of internship programs, they can also come with their share of compliance questions and challenges, including whether or not the intern should be paid. In fact, an increasing number of lawsuits filed by unpaid interns has caused many companies to rethink their programs.[1]

To address these questions, the Department of Labor (DOL) has established a set of six criteria that for-profit organizations need to evaluate in order to ensure compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).[2] If all six criteria below are met, then in general, an employment relationship does not exist under the FLSA and the intern does not have to be paid. However, there is a lot of grey area when it comes to these criteria. The main take-away from the DOL is that if a company benefits at all from the work an intern performs, the intern must be paid.[3]

The six criteria test for unpaid interns:

  • The internship is similar to training that would be given in an educational environment
  • The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern
  • The intern does not displace regular employees but instead works under close supervision of existing staff
  • The employer derives no immediate advantage from the intern’s activities; and on occasion, its operations may actually be impeded
  • The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship
  • The employer and intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship

As you evaluate your internship program, review these compliance criteria to ensure that your program is meeting the DOL regulations for unpaid interns. And to get the most value out of your internship program, keep the five program tips in mind. A wealth of fresh, new talent often emerges from a strong internship program.  

For more information:

  • Learn more about Ceridian Recruiting and Screening Services
  • Learn more about Ceridian Talent Management

[1] New Unpaid Internship Issue: Fewer Internships = More Competition

[2] Non-profit organizations must adhere to slightly different criteria and should check with the DOL to ensure compliance.

[3]Internship Crackdown: What You Must Do to Comply with the Law