New Commercial Shows Benefits of Internships

San Diego, CA, November 29, 2011 — Today, Intern Profits, a service of Efficient Enterprises, Inc. released an international campaign educating businesses and potential interns about the value of internships.

The campaign includes an animated commercial depicting the common struggles facing both business owners and new workers entering the workforce in today’s challenging economy.

Business owners are faced with capital and human resource constraints (thereby limiting their ability to grow their business) and new workers entering the workforce are faced with the ultimate “Catch 22” – they can’t get a job without any experience, but they can’t get any experience if no one will give them a job.

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3 Responses to New Commercial Shows Benefits of Internships

  1. Edward Corcino says:

    From the commercial, it seems more like “for-profit” organizations are being encouraged to break the law. An employer hiring a student as a non-paid internship to run a project like social media marketing, blog or to build a website is receiving a direct benefit from said student breaking two of the 6 criteria set forth by the department of labor. Specifically criteria 3 and 4:

    #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;

    Non-profit organizations and public sector internships are excluded from the six criteria for the time being.

    Also, schools tend to have their own policies for credit internships, so it is wise for an employer to reach out to a school first instead of doing their own search for interns and then asking the student to try and work something out with the school. Many schools don’t offer their credit internship programs to freshmen or non degree students. So if an employer wants to be sure the students they are getting will be receiving credit, they should contact the school and be aware that getting an immediate intern is not usually possible as credit programs must follow the academic semester. Lastly, they should be aware that credit does not substitute pay if they are looking for interns to do work (as mentioned before) that directly benefits the employer or displaces an employee.

  2. Dreama Lee says:

    Ed,

    Thanks for your insight. I’ll address your concerns here individually.

    First – our commercial is part of our campaign to raise awareness about the value of internships – paid or unpaid. We do not address this subject in our video and it was not intended to address that subject. The purpose is to further educate the public about the value of internships to both the business owner and intern. We do not discern between for-profit, non-profit or government (unlike the Federal Government). We believe that all internships (paid or not) should be valuable to both the intern and the organization employing the intern (whether for-profit, non-profit or the government) in order for the internship to be truly useful to both parties.

    To assume that any organization (for-profit, non-profit or government) would take the time out of their day to train an intern, mentor an intern and allow them to work alongside full time employees or the owners/CEOs of a company and the organization to NOT get any benefit is completely ignorant policy. More importantly, why would an intern want to take on an internship that they couldn’t be involved in a projects and tasks that ultimately help the organization they are working with? Observing how a marketing strategy is put together is far less impressive on a resume than actually getting in and helping to craft a marketing strategy.

    I am not sure your legal background, I see that you are with the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. We however, have consulted the top labor law attorney to NACE, Ed Easterly, and provided legal agreements, trainings and a report on how to be in compliance with the Labor Laws set out by DOL around internships, including unpaid internships. If you would like to learn more and see the service we offer to our own community around this issue please visit: http://www.internprofits.com/legal-kit/.

    We also teach our community to do exactly as you say, reach out directly to schools to recruit interns. We don’t however believe that somehow taking on a student for credit absolves the employer of being in compliance with the DOL. This is a tactic that some companies have used to get around the issue which in fact is not really helping the student at all if they are not providing real on the job training. We also feel that the colleges and universities around the country requiring their students to take an internship (where nearly 80% are unpaid) AND pay for college tuition for this unpaid internship are doing a disservice to their students.

    We also provide our community the resources to ensure that the interns that work for their organization are getting training and education while taking on the internship. We call these our Easy Intern Assignments, which you can read more about here: http://www.internprofits.com/allEIAs/

    Our mission is to show business owners and organizations how to find, hire and manage interns to grow their business while while creating educational opportunities for tomorrow’s talent today. We believe that internships are a win-win for both the organization and the intern.

    We’d welcome you to sit-in on any of our community trainings, weekly Open Q&A calls, etc. to learn more about what we are doing to ensure a positive internship experience for all involved.

    Thank you for your contribution and we enjoy open and intelligent comments and discussions like these.

  3. edward corcino says:

    “We also feel that the colleges and universities around the country requiring their students to take an internship (where nearly 80% are unpaid) AND pay for college tuition for this unpaid internship are doing a disservice to their students.”

    For the most part I agree with you here. The six federal guidelines do not stipulate that an intern needs to be receiving credit. It is not like the older laws that stated the trainee needed to be getting something back in return (which was very vague and misconstrued(?) as either pay, stipend, or credit) On that end, it is usually the company that would institute a policy stating that the student must be receiving credit in order to participate. The reasoning for some (as I work in the career and internship center and field this question day in and day out) is that some companies, even major ones, believe that a credit or letter of acknowledgment absolves them of any liability if the intern were to be injured or face any legal complication that would normally entail legal action. Or that the credit means that they don’t have to pay the student, or worst, that they don’t have to pay them and can legally then impose work that should be left for a paid employee.

    The criteria of the company not receiving direct benefit does not exclude the intern from gaining experience working on projects that the company in the end benefits from such as a intern working on a marketing team developing a marketing strategy or a design team developing a new product. It is a protective measure so that an employer does not hire an unpaid intern to “be” the marketing team or lead designer. In the case of the commercial it seems to illustrate a student creating a website, which I understood, as being an unpaid intern. That would be considered a direct benefit that violates the criteria for a non-paid intern. As a paid internship (paid hourly, starting at minimum wage which is still a very low rate to pay for a web designer) that would be considered legal. If the non-paid intern were part of a team (and I don’t mean a team of non-paid interns) that was developing the website that would be a different story. If the work being done by the student is something that the company is depending on (i.e. if the intern were to leave the company wouldn’t have anyone to complete the project and/or the project would be greatly hindered) than that is definitely an issue where the company is possibly abusing the non-paid status. It has been a hard fight for some to get these rules better defined by the government after much abuse, but even still there isn’t enough enforcement or eduction. Neither have I heard of a cases where the government has step in as much as the UK government, which imposes fines and forces companies found breaking the law to pay back in arrears. And most cases I have been aware of here have ended settled out of court and with a gag order.

    But back to your statement about school charging tuition for credit internships. As I mentioned, I do agree, it is a bit much. FIT, a state university, does have credit internship programs that range from 2-4 credits which students do have to pay for. The state rules on what constitute a credit and it asks for a requirement of hours and a certain number of written assignments per credit. In our particular program we actually have a course that is done in conjunction with the internship with a curriculum and instructor that assigns projects. The course plays the dual role of ensuring the company is not abusing the student (i.e. telling the student and school that the student would be working on the marketing team, but then only having them fetch coffee, database entry or working from home making cold calls from the students cellphone during the day) and helping the student with their own self development. So in cases where faculty members have to get involved in overseeing an internship, a cost is unfortunately warranted. However in a few cases I have only heard of, there have been/are schools that offer 1 credit (more or less) while providing no additional oversight other than a report requested at the end of the internship to a faculty member who does not get involved in the students development. That is a major disservice to their student.

    If companies organized their own proper, legal, internships, there wouldn’t be a need for requiring credit. On the other hand, a few companies I have spoken with have acknowledge that students interning for credit are much more motivated and involved than non-paid/non-credit, or even paid non-credit internships. Usually the fear of a student getting an F or the drive of getting a high grade to have on their transcript does motivate them above the “I hope this lands me a job” aspiration that motivates an intern at first. In some cases that motivation fades, but the credit course ensures that they don’t just abandoned the worksite and inadvertently harm their reputation. In the case of any abuse it is our department that steps in if all else fails to either remove the student and assign to a different company while deciding how to handle the companies account for any future credit interns.

    Dreama, I was very excited to see your response. I really appreciate your response and invitation to your community training. I will check to see when it would be most convenient, as I am very curious about your services. I am not speaking on behalf of the school nor would be attending as such. But any services I could learn about, for my own professional development and to assist students in their journey in finding a career, the better.

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