The calendar turns to spring, and you know what’s coming. It’s that time of year when employers are swamped with requests from college students for unpaid internships.
Thousands of students want a chance to build their résumés, find a mentor and get an edge on the competition when graduation finally comes. They call, e-mail and write, begging for a chance to learn the ropes. And they don’t ask for much in return—often not even a paycheck.
The benefits of the symbiotic relationship are obvious. An internship provides the student with an opportunity for real-life experience, résumé enhancement and perhaps a leg up on a paying position with the employer after graduation. The employer receives the chance to evaluate a new applicant, at no cost.
The legal risks, however, are not so obvious.
Interns may be employees
One area of risk is the Fair Labor Standards Act ((register to read more)), which requires that rec...