The State of Paid Internships in 2019

As a major public relations group moves toward requiring its members to offer paid internships, here’s an update on the state of paid internship programs—both inside and outside of associations.

As we go into another internship season this summer, the phenomenon of the paid internship—long a sore spot for students—is on a bit of an upswing.

And that’s thanks, in no small part, to the world of associations. Case in point: Recently, the PR Council announced that it would require its members to adopt a paid internship policy that mandates interns to be paid at least minimum wage for their local market, regardless of whether they’re receiving class credit. As the group represents 110 top public relations agencies nationwide, it could have a major impact on the overall space.

The policy takes effect in January.

In a news release, the council’s president, Kim Sample, noted that the approach is intended to cut down on confusion that agencies sometimes face.

“By making it crystal clear that our members pay interns, we avoid any misperceptions and misinformation,” Sample said. “When we recently surveyed members, we found a few points of confusion, including whether some colleges and universities require that internships be unpaid.”

Other recent internship trends worth following:

Intern pay rising at big companies. Companies want the best and brightest, and they’re willing to pay top dollar to receive it—which might mean some competition for your internship program. Glassdoor recently released a survey of the highest-paying internships, and some of the standouts from a monthly salary standpoint include Facebook ($8,000), Amazon ($7,725), and Salesforce ($7,667).

A labor case to watch. Back in March, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Amnesty International violated U.S. labor law in a case involving unpaid interns in which implied threats were made. With Amnesty International now appealing to the full NLRB on the grounds that the unpaid interns, who were asking for compensation, were not employees, the case could set some broader precedents worth watching, Nonprofit Quarterly notes. (It should be noted that Amnesty International has since started paying its interns.)

A big change in Congress. As Associations Now reported last month, Congress has made some major shifts in recent weeks to help ensure that congressional interns receive compensation for their work. The move came as a result of a campaign by the advocacy group Pay Our Interns, which announced it was expanding its mission in the coming years to support interns outside of Congress.

(fizkes/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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