HR Connection

Internship Program Do’s and Don’ts

Posted by Raquel DeSouza on Feb 15, 2017 4:20:25 PM

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Whether your organization has an established internship program or is creating one from scratch, it’s critical to make sure the program is a win-win for both interns and employers.

But where does this practice of internships come from? Its origins actually aren’t from the corporate offices or the modern economy, but rather from the Middle Ages. Yes, hundreds of years ago, long-term apprenticeships were established to allow a worker to learn a craft from a “master.”

Today eager high school and college students take on internships for a valuable mentorship and real-world experience, all in the hopes that they land their dream job after walking the graduation stage. On the flip side, employers are looking for potential future employees.

To make sure that the expectations of an internship are the same for both of these parties, read below our Internship Program Do’s and Don’ts.



  • Establish goals for the internship program. Do you want to enhance the organization’s ranking in a “best-places-to-work” survey or identify one intern to hire in a regular full-time position?
  • Pay your interns if you’re a private sector employer because the DOL doesn’t look favorably on “for profit” companies that use volunteers to complete tasks typical for employees. To be exempt from FLSA requirements for minimum wage and overtime, the worker must qualify as either a “volunteer” or “trainee.” Below are their definitions:
  1. A Volunteer is “an individual who donates his or her time and energy without receiving financial or material gain.”
  2. A Trainee must receive training that would be similar to programs offered in vocational schools.
  • Be upfront with the internship arrangement by putting details in writing, including intern’s duties and the opportunities for hands-on training that the company will provide.
  • Make sure your internship program is compliant with not only FLSA, but also State child labor laws, State minimum wage and all Federal and State immigration laws.



  • Forget to conduct periodic meetings separately with each intern and supervisor to determine how the internship is going. These meetings can help in preventing inappropriate conduct.
  • Neglect outlining all of these procedures and policies for an internship program: Needs, Wages, Hours, Policies, Legal Issues and Metrics.
  • Let foreign interns overstay their visas. This can lead to a path of illegal immigration and employment in the U.S.
  • Promise interns’ employment in your organization after the conclusion of the internship.
  • Bypass the Department of Labor’s Test for Unpaid Interns if your company is a “for profit” and private organization. Below are the DOL’s six criteria:
  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;
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.


Need more help? Checks and Balances, Inc. has an Internship Payrolling Solution. C&B, Inc. assumes the role of Employer of Record for your Interns.


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Topics: Blogs, Original Content, employer of record, Pay-rolling, interns

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