What You Can Do

Intern (present/former):

  • Learn your rights! See our workplace poster.
  • Raise awareness to your rights: host an intern potluck, happy hour at a local cafe or bar, throw a dance party.
  • Keep track of the terms of your internship. If you sign or verbally agree to anything, make a note – if you want to take any action later on, it’ll be important to know what terms an employer agreed to (and whether or not they followed them in practice).
  • Show intern solidarity. Make buttons, stickers, tees and totes (download templates here), or obtain a tote or a tee directly from us. You will be amazed how many of your friends would want them!
  • Contact your schools and universities and demand them to stop posting illegal internships. Here is an example of the NYU petition.
  • Start your own advocacy group: set a time and location, send out an invitation to your community via email, social media and/or flyer and pick a few topics to discuss.
  • Contact your local council member to advocate for intern worker rights. Email us for an example.
  • Gather your cohorts and speak to your employers about your rights and better internship conditions.
  • Review the law at the conclusion of your internship. You may be eligible for back pay.

Employer:

  • Study the law. The Department of Labor has strict guidelines as to what constitutes a legal internship. Each state has different laws, know them. Failing to follow these guidelines may make you vulnerable to lawsuits.
  • Start a paid internship program at your workplace: allocate money in your project’s budget or apply for funding to ensure that your interns get paid at least minimum wage.
  • Hire a coordinator to provide oversight and guidance to ensure that the intern’s experience at your company is an educational one and will assist in advancing his/her career.
  • Partner with a university that will closely monitor the internship and ensure that the work being done is within the scope of the intern’s goals.

Intern Coordinator:

  • Study the law. The Department of Labor has strict guidelines as to what constitutes a legal internship. Each state has different laws, know them. Failing to follow these guidelines may make your employer vulnerable to lawsuits.
  • Advocate for a paid internship program. For reasons, see our workplace poster.
  • Partner with an university that will closely monitor the internship and ensure that the work being done is within the scope of the intern’s goals.
  • Be an advocate for your interns by encouraging your employer to provide them with an enriching learning environments and fair compensation.

Career Counselor/Educational Administrator:

  • Advocate for your students by studying Fact Sheet #71 and helping them to stand up for their rights as interns.
  • Include our workplace poster in your office and in your orientation packages.
  • Partner with an internship program that provides sufficient oversight, support, and educational and/or professional training.
  • Collect a list of fair internship practices in your area, subject to continuing changes with input by both students and administrators.
  •  Insist that all internship programs, pay or unpaid, should provide students with an enriching learning environment.
  • Establish a system of accountability between the internship’s organization/company and your institution.  For example:
    • Designate a staff from your institution to monitor the internship, serve as a supportive resource to the student, and act as a liaison between your institution, the program and the students.
    • Require all interns and internship providers to fill in evaluation forms. This way you can gauge student progress and interest, provide valuable perspectives to future students, and assess effectiveness and treatment of the internships each year.
    • Provide a safe space for students to voice concerns about their internships.
  • Organize programs and career/internship fairs that feature only fair and paid internships that proved credible and supportive, and likely to provide career growth for the student.

Job Board Administrator

  • Modify your Terms of Service (ToS) to postings of paid and educational internships exclusively.
  • Be explicit that unpaid internship postings must abide by Fact Sheet #71.
  • Remove all postings that are in violation of your ToS and of the law.
  • Ban advertisers who repeatedly violate these conditions.