Unpaid internships used to be very popular with employers and students. But, in the last few years there have been several high profile lawsuits that have not gone the way of the business. In fact, they were ordered to pay the interns back pay.
Of course, in the case of these lawsuits, the interns were not doing work in the field they were contracted to work in the internship; instead the firms were using them to do other types of work such as food runs, cleaning, and things that gave them zero experience in their field. However, it is still worth paying your interns and this is why.
Most People Can’t Afford to Work Free
In the case of a lot of internships, if you only offer unpaid internships you may miss out on some really exceptional labor. You’ll only be able to take on the people who have support from someone else such as a spouse or parent. There are many talented individuals who need to have at least their basic needs met to be able to even do the internship.
You’ll Get More Applicants
With paid internships you’ll get many more applications of a higher quality than you will if you offer only unpaid internships. Even if all you can pay is a small stipend, you’ll still get more high quality applicants.
Paid Interns Are More Likely to Work Hard
People are more willing to work harder, and do everything they can if they are also going to be paid during that time. Plus, you won’t have to worry about if you occasionally ask them to do things that aren’t in their field.
Paying Lowers Risk of Lawsuits
Due to the recent legal climate, it is best if you pay a small amount (even minimum wage) to interns in order to lower your risk of lawsuits by interns. This is really an important reason to consider paying your interns.
Improves Your Brand's Reputation
When others find out you offer paid internships over unpaid internships, your credibility will go up and your reputation will improve immediately. Unpaid internships are often looked down upon and even can be seen as scams.
Improve the Value of Your Program
Interns who are paid are more likely to be of higher caliber than unpaid interns, not to mention more diverse. Paying allows you to be more choosey about whom you let into the program and have higher standards of success.
You Can Gain from Your Interns' Work
Legally speaking, you can still get free interns, but one of the criteria is that you cannot gain anything from their work if you don’t pay them. By paying a small stipend you open up many possibilities because anything they create on the job belongs to you.
Paid Interns Become Fans
When you pay an intern, they’re very happy to be doing the work they’re doing and happy they were given that chance to gain real work experience. When it’s over they will likely talk about your company in a good way, thus improving your reputation in many ways.
While ultimately it’s up to you on whether you pay your interns or not, keep in mind that the law states that you must not increase your revenue by whatever the interns do. Plus, the internship must benefit the intern and not you. By paying them, you change the entire dynamic so that the internship becomes a win-win for everyone.