More and more students are using internships as a way of bridging the gap between school and the world of work, primarily because they provide hands-on experience and valuable industry contacts that may lead to jobs after graduation. Internships also help students discover new fields of interest. As a result of their internship experiences, students often change the focus of their programs.
Internships within the Departments of Film and Television & Recorded Music are done for credit, with the number of points depending upon the number of hours worked each week. During the fall and spring semesters, only Junior and Senior level students who have completed at least two production workshops are eligible to take internships. During the summer semester, we allow underclassmen within and outside of NYU who have taken at least one production workshop to participate in the program. Students register for the internship course after consulting with a faculty advisor and considering the amount of time that they can work, the number of credits they need to earn, and the kind of work experience that would be the most meaningful within their programs.
Internship Programs Under the Fair Labor Standards Act
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) defines the term “employ” very broadly as including to “suffer or permit to work.” Covered and non-exempt individuals who are “suffered or permitted” to work must be compensated under the law for the services they perform for an employer. Internships in the “for-profit” private sector will most often be viewed as employment, unless the test described below relating to trainees is met. Interns in the “for-profit” private sector who qualify as employees rather than trainees typically must be paid at least the minimum wage and overtime compensation for hours worked over forty in a workweek.
The Test For Unpaid Interns
There are some circumstances under which individuals who participate in “for-profit” private sector internships or training programs may do so without compensation. The Supreme Court has held that the term "suffer or permit to work" cannot be interpreted so as to make a person whose work serves only his or her own interest an employee of another who provides aid or instruction. This may apply to interns who receive training for their own educational benefit if the training meets certain criteria. The determination of whether an internship or training program meets this exclusion depends upon all of the facts and circumstances of each such program.
The following six criteria must be applied when making this determination:
- The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
- The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
- The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
- The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
- The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
- The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
If all of the factors listed above are met, an employment relationship does not exist under the FLSA, and the Act’s minimum wage and overtime provisions do not apply to the intern. This exclusion from the definition of employment is necessarily quite narrow because the FLSA’s definition of “employ” is very broad. Some of the most commonly discussed factors for “for-profit” private sector internship programs are considered below.
For more information, please visit The U.S. Department of Labor.