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How to hire interns for free - usefull tips

(reviewed 19/07/2023)
9 min (0)

Wouldn't it be great if you could hire interns for free from all over the world? How do you hire an intern if you're trying to tap into this pool of talent? For more information on hiring free interns, keep reading this article! 


There are numerous reasons why a startup may desire an unpaid intern program. The internship program could be a way of hiring and promoting the corporation, a brilliant way to network, and an alternate method of securing extra staff without incurring the costs of hiring new workers. 


However, unpaid internships also pose a substantial legal risk for companies that aren't careful. The company faces costly employment lawsuits and government penalties if unpaid interns act as staff.

Since different countries have different labor laws that must be followed, a contract must first be signed in order to avoid legal trouble when hiring unpaid interns.


The contract is between the school, the student, and the startup if, for example, you hire a French intern from a business school. You don't have to pay the student if the school provides you with a contract to sign.


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8 Useful tips on how to hire interns for free

Tip #1 how to hire interns for free: Find out what the local laws require.

Companies frequently offer unpaid internships, and for startups with limited capital, the idea of obtaining free labor may sound appealing. However, a legal unpaid internship program necessitates hiring individuals to perform work without compensation.


The interns must be clearly identified as interns and not staff, as this is the most critical aspect of any unpaid intern program. Suppose the intern is performing the duties of a worker. In that case, the business must pay them minimum wage and comply with all other applicable employment regulations such as overtime, paid leave, and unpaid meals.


Employee classification is governed by both federal and state statutes and rules. Federal employment law necessitates the following to prevent the use of the employee classification:


  • The internship's primary goal should be the intern's development and growth, not the host organization's financial gain.

  • The internship should be structured similarly to how a student would learn in a classroom. Still, it could also include non-standard tasks that are part of a company's regular operations if they serve a training or academic purpose.

  • Interns must work closely under monitoring and supervision and must not take the place of ordinary workers. 

  • Interns shouldn't expect to be hired full-time after their internship is over.

  • There can be no direct financial gain for the company as a result of intern efforts. A company's work and performance may be hampered by the time and energy spent on intern training and supervision.

  • It's important that the trainees and the corporation both know that the internships are unpaid.


Tip #2 how to hire interns for free: Collaborate with Academic Institutions


One way to increase the chances that the people a company hires will be considered unpaid interns rather than employees is to establish and coordinate an internship program with educational institutions. It is clear that the primary goal of an internship program is to further an intern's education and training when there is coordination with educational institutions.


Moreover, interns should ideally obtain college credit for an internship, and the program should be overseen by the intern's home college or university.


TIP #3 how to hire interns for free: Create Internship-Specific Program Materials

To increase the chances of correctly classifying interns as unpaid trainees and not staff, businesses should create internship program materials for that period, such as brochures, adverts, instruction manuals, and teaching materials. 


Furthermore, a corporation should have offer letters for both unpaid interns and staff, with each letter clearly outlining the terms of the agreement.


There should be precise terms in both the program materials as well as the offer letters stating that the internship is intended to be a learning experience, doesn't at all guarantee jobs, and does not provide compensation.

Tip #4 how to hire interns for free: Establish clear boundaries between interns and employees


A company shouldn't try to get anything out of an unpaid intern right away. Thus, an internship program shouldn't routinely have an intern work on projects or administrative tasks similar to those of a full-time employee.


Instead, a business should give an unpaid intern a wide range of responsibilities and highlight the intern's development of transferable skills and industry knowledge. An unpaid intern must work in a specific role and receive extensive training and supervision, ideally in the intern's field of study. While an intern is working, they should learn as much as possible.


Without paying an intern, it's essential to keep them under close watch, so they don't get mistaken for a full-time employee. Interns shouldn't be given the same level of oversight as full-time workers; instead, they should be given opportunities to observe and learn from the work of experienced employees in a controlled setting.


A person will probably be eligible for the program as an unpaid intern if the corporation takes steps to distinguish the experience of working of an intern from a worker and also if the internship program is structured according to specific guidelines.


Tip #5 how to hire interns for free: Tailor-made answers that vary from the standard.

Designing an internship program and deciding how to categorize the people hired is a fact- and law-intensive exercise, whether unpaid interns or staff. If a company is thinking about going this route, it should consult an attorney before deciding how to structure its internship program. 

finding interns


What makes a successful internship program?

The ideal internship programs provide interns with meaningful tasks and customize the learning experience to the intern's field of study and long-term objectives. They should have a strategy for instructing and mentoring the intern. They may also provide training opportunities for speakers. Interns value an internship that allows them to feel like an integral part of the team and affords them the chance to make professional contacts.


Is an internship a part-time or full-time position?

An internship program can be part-time or full-time, depending on your company's specific requirements and objectives. For instance, a part-time internship may be suitable for a specific task or activities you would like the interns to complete.


What distinguishes unpaid internships from paid internships, apart from compensation?

The primary distinction between free and paid internship opportunities is that in certain instances, it is illegal to employ interns without paying them for their work. Unpaid internship opportunities adhere to defined guidance, like being a member of a school or university's training course.

If your company is considered a private, for-profit enterprise, you may be obligated to comply with intern compensation regulations.


Reading this piece should have given you a solid grounding on how to hire interns for free abroad. It's important to get help when you need it, especially if you're running a business on your own. Having an assistant on staff can be helpful, but it can be costly for a startup, so many entrepreneurs try to do as much as they can without one. Burnout is a possibility, and it may be difficult to get everything done on time.


An organization that chooses to provide unpaid internships must make it crystal clear to its interns that they will not be compensated for their time. It is recommended that unpaid interns in the commercial sector show proof of admission to a program or internship program to get academic credit.

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  • What makes internPreneur different?

    The internPreneur platform gives you full and unlimited access to a large database of students. Recruitment is much faster as you can filter the skills and availability of students according to your needs.

  • How much does it cost me to hire an intern?

    Most of internships are unpaid as interns receive academic credits in exchange for completion of the internship. The only requirement is for the students to work on meaningful tasks and have an assigned supervisor.

  • How long do the internships last?

    Most internships are for 1 to 3 months, but some schools also allow longer internships. Some students are flexible and agree to extend placements if necessary.

  • Are all internships on-site (do I need an office)?

    No. 3 different types of workplaces are possible: hybrid (recommended), remote and on-site. Choose a workplace according to your needs.

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