Do You Know The Rules On Paid and Unpaid Internships?
“I’m looking for an intern because I just lost a critical employee.”
“We believe interns should be ready to contribute on the first day of their internship!”
“Our interns work as long as they’d like!”
If any of these three statements reflect your paid or unpaid internship experience, I hate to break it to you but you’re doing it wrong. Students who agree to join your organization shouldn’t be evaluated the same way as an entry-level employee because the rules of engagement aren’t the same. A quick rule of thumb is that employees are hired to SHOW and interns are groomed to GROW. If you’re in the middle of the hiring process for your summer interns and think you might be going about it wrong, we’ve got you covered!
This article will explain:
The merits of paid and unpaid internships
The seven factors that the Federal Government uses to validate an internship program
What to do if you’re stuck or confused
Are Internships Still Worth It?
If you’re a hiring manager at your organization, you’re probably wondering if internships still matter. In an era of AI and bots, lean teams and freelancers; the idea of hiring an intern might feel like an afterthought. Not only do interns legally require more hand-holding than other labor classes, but turnover is darn-near 100% since unlike Mike in Accounting who’s been at your company since the pre-Internet age, internships have to end at some point! In my professional opinion, internships are worth it for employers and interns alike! My thoughts on the subject are below but I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section or by tweeting me on Twitter (@joeyvpriceHR).
If you’ve ever looked at entry-level job descriptions (or written one lately), you know the conundrum that early-stage employees face. Many “entry-level” jobs require at least 1 or 2 years of experience in the industry… But how does one get this experience without having experience? Well, a perfect way is through an internship. Whether a student has a paid or unpaid internship, there’s redeeming value for the student who makes the most of their time at work. Yes, unpaid internships continue to be a hot topic on college campuses but they do pay off. Unpaid internships offer a whole host of opportunities for students who make the most of their limited time on your team:
Valuable work experience
Opportunities to network with industry professionals
A chance at reducing college tuition debt
Internships also benefit employers in many ways. They offer employers a way to begin building a pipeline of future talent, increase brand recognition among early-stage professionals, and may provide skilled labor at a discounted cost to help support mission-critical tasks. However, internships also come with a degree of risk, and an unsuspecting employer may find themselves under scrutiny or facing legal penalties and fines if their internship programs do not measure up to Federal, State, and local guidelines.
What Mistakes Do Employers Make When Hiring Interns?
Perhaps the biggest issue that arises when providing internships is whether the experience actually constitutes an internship, or if it is considered to be employment. Remember, internships are meant to be an educational experience first and foremost. Thankfully, there is Federal guidance on what makes a good internship program! The following criteria and tests can be used when determining whether or not your internship program is truly an internship:
Both the intern and the employer understand that the intern is not entitled to compensation
Make it clear to your interns from the very start that they will not be paid for their efforts as an intern. Try to capture this in writing either when you offer the internship to the student, or in the original announcement to which the intern applies.
The internship provides training that would be given in an educational setting.
Say goodbye to the days of making your interns take everyday coffee runs, lunch orders, and other menial tasks. The work that an intern is asked to complete should be similar to that of what they would otherwise do or learn in the classroom (business majors should learn about business functions and processes, political science majors should gain an understanding of the political process, etc.)
Completing the internship entitles the intern to academic credit
So, if the intern isn’t getting paid in money, what should they be paid in? Why, academic credit of course. Work with academic institutions’ internship coordinators to coordinate how many hours an internship will be expected to work, and how many credit hours the intern may be expected to receive.
The internship is limited in duration and educates the intern
Put a time limit on how long the intern will be expected to work for your company. This helps in setting expectations for your interns, as well as in determining the number of credits your interns will receive for their experience. How long should an intern last, you might ask….?
The internship corresponds with the academic calendar.
Depending on the State, college, or academic program, this length might differ. However, make sure that the internship corresponds as closely as possible to the academic calendars of the colleges in which your interns are enrolled.
The work complements, rather than displaces the work of a paid employee
Plain and simple, your interns should not replace your regular workers. Doing so almost universally results in your interns being considered regular, paid employees. Not to mention, it is also unethical and, if your interns continue not to be paid, could result in stiff fines for your company.
The intern is not entitled or promised a paid job at the end of the internship.
Promising an intern a job doing essentially the same things they’ve been doing as an intern causes problems. Mainly, it essentially creates an “unpaid trial service period” to test out employees until they become regular employees. A documented or promised job at the end of the internship also can be seen as creating an employment relationship.
By no means does this list preclude you from paying your interns for the work they do for your company. In fact, you may need to pay your interns in order to be competitive and attract top college talent to intern for your organization. However, it is important to keep the above 7 factors in mind, regardless of whether your interns are paid or unpaid.
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Do You Want to Build The Perfect Internship Experience?
If you’ve gotten this far in the post, pat yourself on the back! It shows that you’re committed to helping your workplace be a launching point for successful students who benefit from mentorship at your office. If you’re interested in building out your internship program – or refining it – contact us today! It never hurts to have a second set of professional eyes reviewing your program to make sure it’s perfect. Jumpstart:HR, LLC can assess your internship program for the following:
Does your internship program pass the seven-step test?
Is your internship program one that students want to sign up for?
How do you make the most of the time your interns have with you?
How do you attract interns that resonate with your brand/mission/values?
What do I need to know/do if an intern doesn’t quite work out and needs to be terminated?
These are all big questions that we talk for small businesses and small teams at larger institutions. Drop us a note and let’s chat!
It can be expensive to fail at hiring a new employee in a small business or startup. In this video, Joey Price, of Jumpstart:HR, LLC gives you everything you need to know about low quality of hire and how to improve candidate experience and your employee onboarding results.
“I’m so burned out but how can I take a vacation without falling behind at work?”
Phone calls. Texts. Emails. Slack Messages. 24/7. The alerts never stop!
It has become entirely too easy to connect with work and extremely difficult to retreat for even a day or two of relaxation. The result of this twisted relationship with technology and work is less joy and more burnout. Wouldn’t you agree? I remember a time when I worried constantly about leaving my company for a few days to travel to Italy – for fear of the whole thing imploding and having to rebuild like the ruins in Rome! If you struggle with wanting to take a vacation from work but feel guilty about doing so – you’re not alone. A recent survey found that 54% of Americans fail to use all of their vacation days each year. In addition to that, big cities like DC, SF, and LA lead the way in this “vacation-less” lifestyle. No wonder we’re all stressed out!
Now is the time to seriously consider taking that vacation. Whether to improve mental health, connect with your family and friends on a deeper level, or to regain purpose and creativity at work, these are the reasons why you should say “Yes!” to PTO and not even think twice about it:
Vacations are good for your mental [and physical] health.
If I told you that perfect attendance at work might be a cause of that flu that knocked you out last month, would you believe me? Or – what about those 10 pounds you can’t seem to shake off in order to reach your goal weight? For better or for worse, constant work creates stress in our lives and the impact of that stress can be felt deeply on the molecular level. Here’s what Psychology Today says about the dangers of work-induced stress:
When you’re stressed out and tired, you are more likely to become ill, your arteries take a beating, and you’re more likely to have an accident. Your sleep will suffer, you won’t digest your food as well, and even the genetic material in the cells of your body may start to become altered in a bad way. Mentally, not only do you become more irritable, depressed, and anxious, but your memory will become worse and you’ll make poorer decisions. You’ll also be less fun to be with, causing you to become more isolated, lonely, and depressed.
Combat stress and build up your defenses by making vacation travel an integral part of your life!
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Vacations help you build deeper connections with the people who matter most to you.
Have you ever found yourself saying “gosh, I wish I spent more time with [Insert Employee Name] in Accounting more often!”? Probably not. But have you ever kicked yourself in the butt for not spending enough time with your spouse, your kids, or your friends who all get lost as we race to climb the ladder of workplace success? Probably! Vacation is a powerful way to connect with people you care about while building memories that can last a lifetime.
Don’t believe this is incredibly important? Here’s an exercise for you:
Step 1: Think about – and write down – your favorite memory from your last staff meeting.
Step 2: Think about – and write down – your favorite memory from a vacation you took as a child.
Step 3: Pause and think about which memory made you smile more… My guess is that it was the latter and not the former. And that warm feeling of joy that you got from your vaction memory? That’s actively elevating your mood and putting you in a better headspace!
When you retire, or change jobs, or sell your company (if you’re an entrepreneur) – you’re going to want to have people around you that enjoy being in your company. Don’t be that guy or girl who works so much that no one close to you really knows the real you!
Vacations help you “think outside the box” when it comes to creative approaches to tackling workplace issues.
“By taking time off, you’ll find a renewed sense of purpose, more energy to carry out tasks and in general, an overall sense of happiness.”
The long and short of it all is that taking the time to step away from work just might be the very thing you need to help you step up at work! Who knows? You might meet someone in your field at the pool bar and chat about best practices. You could finally get the time to read that great self-help book you’ve been meaning to tackle but never found the time. Or, the quality of your time away might give you the time you needed to reflect on your life purpose and give you the push you need to really get into the driver’s seat of life!
Vacation is an incredibly powerful tool for both relaxation and career. It settles your spirit which helps combat work-induced stress and it gives you the time and space to build new memories with the people you love.
Take that vacation and fight work-related burnout as if your life depends on it because the reality is that it does.
The following post is originally shared on the website of Georgia Public Broadcasting. Jumpstart:HR CEO Joey Price lends his comments to the global conversation surrounding the #metoo movement and addressing sexual harassment at work.
“#MeToo is not only a movement about sexual harassment. As Rebecca Traister put it in The Cut, it’s a reckoning for the way we work, and a call to change the power dynamics leading to sexual abuse. We talk with people who dedicate, in different ways, their professional lives to understanding toxic work environments and how to dismantle them. Erica Clemmons is the Georgia State Director for 9 to 5; Marie Mitchell is a professor of management at the University of Georgia’s business school; and Joey Price is the CEO of Jumpstart:HR, a human resources consulting firm based in Baltimore.” – Source
If your business needs to re-evaluate it’s sexual harassment policy in 2018, contact us now.
News flash: Your company is literally throwing money down the drain by not focusing on employee wellness. If you’re not intentionally focused on the health and wellness of your employees, it’s literally costing you tens – if not hundreds – of thousands of dollars a year. Your employees are getting sicker because of it and profits are going down the drain.
According to the CDC, employee absenteeism (taking the day off when you’re sick) costs American corporations $1,685 per employee in productivity. The numbers aren’t much better either for presenteeism (staying at work when you’re sick). The Harvard Business Review has found that employees who show up to work while not well result in two-thirds the total cost of employee illness. Not to mention the fact that many illnesses are contagious and can spread from Sarah in Accounting to Michael in Marketing just because they’ve touched the same door handle – yuck!
So often we immediately default to physical challenges and dietary lifestyle changes when we think about employee wellness initiatives but it’s time to upgrade our thinking. These days, it’s not a lack of physical exercise that is the biggest hurdle to employee wellness and it’s not the fact that the break room isn’t stocked with apples and oranges. No, it’s the stress we feel at work that causes employees across the country to cope with unhealthy habits.
How many times have you sat on the couch with pizza and wings for a weekend of Netflix binging because you needed to forget about the incredibly stressful challenges you’ve faced at work? How much has your waistline expanded since your last promotion – or since you launched your company – due to the exhausting pressure you feel to perform? You’re not alone.
The stress elephant in the room can be avoided no longer. We can no longer pretend that the proper response to ailing and demotivated employees at work is smoothies and step challenges. We need to reengineer the way we work and the expectations we have about work. We need to be intentional about creating an atmosphere where people feel mentally free and confident in their ability to stop and take a breather from time to time.
Here are a few helpful employee wellness tips to make your organization less stressful and more healthy and productive:
1. Encouraging Employees to Take Vacation
If we want to create an atmosphere of employee wellness, we have to encourage our employees to come up for air from time to time and take vacation. It doesn’t matter if that time away from work is spent at home decompressing or traveling to a new city, employees need vacations to reset and recharge their mental battery. A recent study by Project: Time Off revealed that Americans take a whole week less of vacation per year verse what Americans took off in 1978. Could you imagine what you’d do with an additional week of time spent with family and friends or adding cool pictures to your Instagram? I guarantee you’d be a much more refreshed and focused individual while at work and your employees would too.
Yoga. Meditation. Prayer. No matter your employee’s pathway towards reaching zen, it’s a worthwhile pursuit for you to encourage and celebrate. In a recent Business, Life, and Coffee podcast interview with Yoga Master Michael Kohan, we spoke about the vital role that mindfulness plays on awareness, engagement and productivity. Between the fights we have with our spouses before work this morning to the project deadline that looms ahead of us, we have many thoughts that compete for our attention during the day. Having the presence of mind to capture these thoughts and be present in whatever moment we are in is extremely powerful.
Behind the smile of every Type-A personality is the unbearable stress of a seemingly unmanageable workload. Okay, so that might not be true but Type-A personality often take work very seriously and display hostile and aggressive behavior that doesn’t work well in a small team environment. Scientist have produced study after study that show Type-A personalities get that way due to increased stress and that stress can be deadly. Take the image below:
The chart shows Type-A behavioral patterns as a direct implication of home and work stress. Left unresolved, this behavior can contribute to physical manifestations of health challenges, low engagement, and lack of concentration. This behavior is exponentially toxic when displayed in a manager of people. I guarantee that there is a strong link between employees who “join organizations but leave bosses” who exhibit Type-A behavior and lash out on their teams.
If someone on your team has Type-A behavioral patterns, it’s time to speak up. What if we saw Type-A personality not as a badge of honor, but a sign that it’s time to pump the brakes a bit and take some time off? I’m sure your employees would benefit greatly from this approach.
These are just a few innovative ways you can increase mental and physical well-being at work. Employee wellness is not just about physical fitness but it’s also about mental health, focus, and clarity of mind.
Got another employee wellness tip to share? Comment below.
If there’s one thing I’m sure you enjoy as a small business owner or manager, it’s keeping up with changes in Washington and the impact it has on your business and your ability to hire new employees. Don’t worry, Jumpstart;HR, LLC has you covered with the latest update you need to know.
On July 17, 2017, The USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) released the new Form I-9, replacing the current version that expires on September 17, 2017. Not sure if you’re using the most recent, or second-most recent, document? Skip the worry and download the latest version by clicking the link below:
There are many reasons why small businesses suffer financial setbacks, but a big one is HR non-compliance when completing paperwork (see the video below). You can ensure you’re on the right path of compliance by constantly reviewing your forms and deleting old, expired on-boarding and new hire forms. This includes tax documents, employment verification documents, and other statutory forms specific to your state.
At Jumpstart:HR, LLC, we’re passionate about keeping your business in business and helping you grow. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter so you can be kept in the loop about changes in legislation and HR best practices.
What is Form I-9?:
Form I-9 is used for verifying the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. All U.S. employers must ensure proper completion of Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This includes citizens and non-citizens. Source: https://www.uscis.gov/i-9
Need help with HR Compliance and on-boarding employees at your organization?