Internships beneficial for future

Sarah Emerson, a senior studying Human Resource Management said while her summer internship at the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington D.C. was one of the best experiences of her life, it was also one of the most expensive ones.

The cost of her internship totaled approximately $2,150, including round-trip airfare, housing, transportation around the city and every-day living expenses such as food and entertainment.

Melissa Medlin, director of Career Planning and Development, stresses the importance of internships, paid and unpaid.

“Having a little bit of experience, even if it’s unpaid, is better than having no experience at all,” Medlin said.

Medlin said the issue with unpaid internships is employers who take advantage of interns and receive “free labor.”

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, employers should not receive “immediate advantage” because of work completed by the intern.

“The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern and the intern does not displace regular employees but works under close supervision of existing staff,” according to the Act.

Medlin said to help cut costs for student interns, the university informs companies that to receive three credit hours, students pay $732 to the university.

This is to encourage employers who do not pay their interns to at least pay the cost of the credit hours, making it ideal for interns and the employers, she said.

If a student has the opportunity to be paid for their work as an intern, they should always take it, Medlin said.

The question of whether or not unpaid internships are ‘worth it’ is often debated among students.

Emerson said she would not trade the real-world experiences she had during her internship for anything.

Any students or graduates interested in an internship can go to the Lion Jobs website to upload their resumes and apply, Medlin said.

If a student thinks his or her unpaid internship was a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, he or she should can call the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division at 1-866-487-9243 or go to to file a complaint against the business or company they interned with.