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March 20, 2013
An internship program can be a fantastic way to meet smart and ambitious people who display a sincere interest in your organization. However, some organizations only have the resources to create unpaid internship programs. The inability to offer compensation can make it harder to attract quality candidates, but offering some incentives that fall within the rules of unpaid internships may help.
In most states from Alaska to Florida, unpaid interns must be enrolled in a school or vocational program and offered equivalent credit hours for their duties. Washington State is one of the only states that does not require the unpaid intern to be actively enrolled in a college or program. Instead, the rules say the experience must be similar to an “educational environment.” Washington rules define this as the employer providing an active learning environment where the intern does not contribute–or offers limited contribution–to the operations of the organization.
In most states, interns can’t replace the duties of a paid employee and the organization cannot depend on their internship program for its operations. If it is determined that they are doing regular filing, data entry, or physical labor, they are entitled to employee health benefits offered to all part-time paid employees and may be subject to federal workplace guidelines.
Keep in mind that working with a school program and offering credits can lend credibility to your program and can help to ensure that a true learning environment has been created.
To attract enthusiastic interns, we suggest non-healthcare related benefits such as:
The benefits of an unpaid intern vary across organizations. Whether your organization gains a new technological mind, a fresh marketing perspective, or an eager new hire, benefits may be the in-road to finding them. Contact the Non-profit Practice Group for more helpful tips.