A Call To End Unpaid Internships: 5 Initiatives from InternMatch

PiggyBankAt InternMatch we are strong believers that all internships should be paid.  We hear from thousands of students every month who are forced to choose between a job that offers professional experience and one that provides  the financial compensation often necessary for paying the rising costs of education.  In addition, we speak to hundreds of employers who have shifted their internship programs from unpaid  to paid and see enormous benefits from being able to hire more diverse and qualified candidates.  

Recently the cost of offering unpaid internships has been getting higher.  Not just because of risk from lawsuits like those levied against Harper’s Bazaar and the Charlie Rose Show, or negative press like that which has been aimed at Hootsuite (despite the fact that they have a highly educational and well loved intern program), but because an increasing awareness amongst students that unpaid internships are wrong.  The best candidates simply are eschewing unpaid roles.

We recognize that many SMBs, startups and non-profits are worried that they can’t afford to pay their interns.  We also understand that there is a difference between those companies who offer highly educational unpaid positions and those notorious in the fashion and entertainment industries that offer unpaid roles with little to no meaningful work experience being offered.  That said we see the era of unpaid internships coming to an end and want to do everything we can to help push companies up the ladder; from unpaid to paid; or from paid  to paid + adding students to payroll with legal standing (it is a little known fact that most interns are not covered by critical employment laws that defend against sexual harassment and discrimination).

That’s why today we are excited to announce 5 new initiatives to help companies become more educated on the value of paid internships and how to make this critical change within their company:

1).  A new series entitled “An End to Unpaid Internships”  in which we will examine the 5 critical topics below:

Be on the Right Side of Internship History, Thursday 4/11

Why Unpaid Internships Hurt Diversity, Tuesday 4/16

Data on Unpaid Internships and Applicant Volume, Thursday 4/18

If Startups Can Pay Their Interns, Why Can’t You?, 4/23

How to Turn Your Unpaid Internship Program Into a Paid One, 4/25

2).  A new campaign entitled “Almost Free Postings for Entirely Unfree Internships.”

For all of the first week of May, anyone with a PAID internship position will be allowed to post it on InternMatch for $1.  After next week and for the indefinite future we will be giving a 10% discount to anyone who posts a paid rather an unpaid internship role.

3).  A webinar on “How to Turn Your Unpaid Internship Program to a Paid Program,” on Wednesday April 24th.

This will address how companies large and small can justify a paid intern program as well as properly on boarding students to fit best practices.  You can sign up here.

4).  InternMatch is proud to have partnered with Ross Perlin author of Intern Nation to create an internship Bill of Rights espousing a number of internship best practices.

Companies who want to learn more about supporting the Intern Bill of Rights can signup to learn more below.

5.)   We are offering free consulting services to anyone who wants to learn what they can do to transition their intern program from unpaid to paid.

Simply email feedback@internmatch.com with the subject, “Intern Payment Advice.”

I remember when InternMatch was a small 3-person company with little to no funding and we hired our first ever design intern for $10/hour. Gabe Pelegrin offered to work at InternMatch for free, but we choose to pay and the value we received far outweighed the cost.  He designed our business cards, blog, and our resume and cover letter guides that have now seen hundreds of thousands of views.  InternMatch would not be where it is today without Gabe and a myriad of other interns’ support who have helped us grow our business.  We look forward to hearing anyone here’s feedback and are always interested in new ways to partner and help support paid internships.


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Nathan Parcells

Nathan Parcells is VP of Marketing and co-founder of Looksharp. He has spent the past decade helping students launch their career, researching best practices for hiring millennials (including running Looksharp's annual "State of College Hiring") and sharing these insights with employers. Nathan's work has been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, Business Insider and more. Outside of work, Nathan is an avid rock climber, back packer and Bob Dylan fan.