intern employability charts

The controversy surrounding unpaid internships is not easily resolved. There are concerns on both sides of the debate.

But then, there are the facts:

Nearly 40 percent of all internships are unpaid.

Unpaid interns are significantly LESS EMPLOYABLE than paid interns and receive median salary offers almost $20,000 lower than their paid classmates — somehow earning even less than even those with no internship experience.

We’re committed to bridging this gap. We’ve studied the issue. We have a plan.

Does Experience Compensate FREE Labor?

Justifications FOR Unpaid InternshipsJustifications AGAINST Unpaid Internships

Some organizations, particularly nonprofits, operate on limited funding and rely on unpaid interns to help complete their charitable activities. Commercial and nonprofit organizations with $1 million+ in operating revenue should be required to pay interns.
Requiring employers to pay interns could result in fewer internship opportunities. A day’s work should equal a day’s pay.
Students choose to take an unpaid internship. Unpaid internships exclude those who cannot afford to work for free and, by their nature, are discriminatory.
Unpaid internships offer educational value. Unpaid interns are less employable and are offered lower starting salaries.
In some fields, unpaid internships are a necessity. While this is true in certain fields due to insurance liability, other employers, including the government, should not be exempt.
Many colleges require internships, and unpaid internships enable students to fulfill this requirement. Many colleges charge for credits earned during unpaid internships, making it even harder for financially challenged students.
Though unenforced, the laws that govern unpaid internships require that interns do more meaningful work and less menial tasks. Interns have a right to have a quality learning experience and to be paid for their work.



Petition for new legislation to:

  • Make unpaid internships unlawful for government entities and non-exempt employers with $1M+ in operating revenue
  • Establish a system of business tax credits for small businesses under $1M in operating
    revenue as reimbursement for paying interns
  • Require stricter compliance guidelines for small companies and nonprofits
  • Limit the tuition that colleges and universities can charge for credits earned during unpaid internships and/or offer unpaid students a tuition rebate


  • Work with employers to install certification-worthy internships
  • Promote best practices for internship program management and compliance with the Department of Labor’s guidelines under the Fair Labor Standards Act
  • Upgrade our intern skills and professional development course to provide interns with a meaningful and marketable learning experience


  • Contribute 10% of all donations to provide stipends for unpaid interns at nonprofits.