Unpaid Internship Guidelines

NJIT Career Development Services (CDS) widely promotes the value of experiential education through its cooperative education, internship and civic engagement offerings. Internships, paid and unpaid, offer college students first-hand career-related work experience as part of the learning that includes applying knowledge gained in the classroom.

NJIT CDS posts unpaid internship opportunities that meet the learning outcomes criteria for our academic programs, and the criteria for acceptable unpaid internships as established by the United States Department of Labor (DOL). Organizations seeking to host unpaid interns must satisfy the following six requirements for their postings:
  • The training, even though it includes actual operation of the employer’s facilities, is similar to training that would be given in a vocational school.
  • The training is for the benefit of the student.
  • The student does not displace regular employees, but works under the close observation of a regular employee.
  • The employer provides the training and derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the student. Occasionally, the operations may actually be impeded by the training.
  • The student is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period.
  • The employer and the student understand that the student is not entitled to wages for the time spent training.

According to the DOL, all six requirements must be satisfied in order for an intern to be deemed a non-employee trainee. The courts, however, have taken a more liberal interpretation of the six factors and have implied that the requirements should be viewed under a totality of the circumstances that does not require all factors to be met.

The Fair Labor and Standards Act makes a special exception under certain circumstances for individuals who volunteer to perform services for a state or local government agency and for individuals who volunteer for humanitarian purposes for private non-profit food banks. The DOL Wage and Hour Division recognizes an exception for individuals who volunteer their time, freely and without anticipation of compensation, for religious, charitable, civic, or humanitarian purposes to non-profit organizations. Unpaid internships in the public sector and for non-profit charitable organizations, where the intern volunteers without expectation of compensation, are generally permissible.