Unpaid Internships: Position Statement

June 30, 2010

Dear Colleagues,

As you know, the legal and ethical issues surrounding unpaid internships have been highly debated in recent months. With your input, NACE is addressing this issue. I am happy to share with you NACE's Position Statement on Unpaid Internships. I will also highlight some of the work we have done surrounding this issue, and detail the information and resources we will provide to you in the near future.

One of our key goals while developing a position statement was to engage our members in the process. In May, we conducted a national survey of employer and college members to gain insight into their internship practices and thoughts on unpaid internships. (Click here for the executive summary of the survey.) Furthermore, we held a roundtable on the topic during the NACE 2010 Annual Conference earlier this month.

Our position statement is framed by the following principles, beliefs, and assumptions:

Based on the above principles, beliefs, and assumptions, and the information supplied by our members, NACE's position statement on the issue of unpaid internships is:

"The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), representing more than 3,000 higher education institutions and employing organizations, recognizes the enormous value of internship programs to individual student participants and both the higher education and employer communities. We believe that the U.S Department of Labor criteria for assessing whether internships in the for-profit sector may be unpaid must be reviewed and further clarified to ensure they account for the incredible diversity of students, higher education institutions, and employing organizations involved in such programs. Further, all interns, regardless of their compensation, should enjoy similar, basic protections in the work setting consistent with all laws, ethical considerations, and sound business practices."

Going forward, NACE will provide you with the latest information and resources, and keep you apprised of developments concerning unpaid internships. A virtual seminar on the topic is planned for July 26 (details to come). In addition, NACE legal advisers are developing an FAQ document to assist members in their work with interns and internships; we expect to release this resource shortly, and will notify you when it is available.

I appreciate the feedback we received from you, our members, as a result of our survey on the issue.  Your input is guiding our response to this important issue. Thank you for your participation.


Shawn VanDerziel
2009-10 NACE President
Vice President, Human Resources & Administration 
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