Summer Internships Done Right

June 05, 2014

Unpaid summer internships are a great way for students to learn more about their chosen field, and for businesses to get help on special projects. Mountain States Employers Council (MSEC) - a Better Business Bureau (BBB) Accredited Business - provides insight into the legal requirements of unpaid summer interns.

Businesses can offer unpaid internships by following six criteria set out by the Department of Labor:

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation in 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 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.

If all criteria are met, an employment relationship does not exist, and minimum wage and overtime provisions do not apply to the intern. If criteria are not met, it is best to hire the individual as a temporary employee.

Mountain States Employers Council also recommends the internship be coordinated through an educational institution where the intern can receive school credit. Contact the career services office of your local college or university to post an internship opening. Refer to the Department of Labor for more information on internship programs at


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