Interns work hard. The idea of an internship as we know it in modern society could be compared to the medieval apprenticeship. During an apprenticeship during medieval times, skilled laborers or craftsmen would accept a young person to whom they would teach their trade. In exchange that young person would work for the teacher after a certain amount of time had passed.
The difference between a medieval internship and a modern internship is in the amount of exploration that is available. An intern isn’t bound by their agreement to work for the employer that is providing them with the chance for training/experience in a certain field. When the internship is over, many do receive job offers from the individual or company that provided them with the internship, but they are not liable to accept the offer. Many students start early and complete a few internships early on to aid them in their educational/career path choices. It allows them to get a feel for what career they may like to pursue. Internships they accept later on in their educational career can be used to build up experience in their chosen path. Some internships are paid, but some are not. This can make it difficult to determine whether or not your internship is in violation of any wage and hour laws which is important because they are the only thing that keeps employers from taking complete advantage of the vast array of individuals looking for internships.
If you need clarification on the issue, consider these issues. The unpaid internship should be for the benefit of the intern, not the employer. It should be comparable to training you might receive in an education tract. An “intern” should never take the job of a regular employee and should work under close supervision by experienced staff. As previously stated, the intern shouldn’t be required to accept a position at the company at the end of the internship. An employer should derive no immediate advantages from the use of an intern. And it should be made clear from the start that the employer has no intention of paying the intern for their work.
If you are still unclear, get in touch with an expert California wage and hour attorney at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik. We can help you determine where your internship stands in relation to current wage and hour laws.