Vocate Blog

DOL Updates Internship Guidelines: Here’s what we find interesting

The Vocate team is committed to finding college students professional opportunities (entry-level positions, internships, etc.) and helping employers discover diverse and talented individuals. We also want to ensure that employers and hiring managers are informed of the most updated policies and practices in advertising your internship and job opportunities. For an intern’s perspective on the guidelines, check out: Learning and Growth for College Students Through Unpaid Internships.

Internship guidelines can help (re)structure your internship’s program, curriculum and responsibilities. Having smaller operating budgets, organizations (such as non-profits, start-up companies, government agencies to name a few) typically have an unpaid internship program that can be more meaningful and educational for college students hungry to learn. The Department of Labor (DOL) shifted its unpaid internship guidelines to emphasize the educational component of any corporation’s unpaid internship opportunities (refer to guideline here).

Internship Programs and the Element of Learning

We encourage both paid and unpaid internships that provide valuable experience and skill development because every employer should respect the hard work and time of the intern.

Collectively, the team supports the DOL’s emphasis on education as valuable in structuring an unpaid internship. These guidelines are in place, so an intern gains more value from their time and work rather than doing menial tasks like “getting coffee” or filing paperwork. We do not want either the employer or the intern’s time to be wasted in the internship program.

If an internship is unpaid, the intern should receive more value than the employers. If interns are not learning anything new or feel stagnant in their professional development, then why should they stay at this organization and why would they refer their peers to your internship program? We believe the classroom experience and the unpaid internship should complement each other; students learn from coursework and then apply what they learn to their internships.

Creating Value in the Workplace

We encourage both paid and unpaid internships that provide valuable experience and skill development because every employer should respect the hard work and time of the intern. We also want our partners to understand the ethics behind unpaid internships. What we want is for your internship to cultivate inspiration and collaboration for both the college student(s) and employer.

Overall, the educational components of the DOL’s guidelines affirms our mission at Vocate: to unlock human potential. We believe internships can help college students discover their passions and engage with their future career path early, so college students are better prepared to answer the question:

“What do you want to do when you graduate?”

For Vocate, discovery, learning and growth are the cornerstones of any individual’s career path. Unpaid internships are a platform for discovery and exploration. Engage the curious learners and watch them not only update their LinkedIn profiles, but make their mark in the world. We applaud the DOL for updating their unpaid internship guidelines to have a strong focus on education. Your business can now offer unpaid internships as long as they meet several criteria, mostly related to how good of an educational experience they offer.


U.S. Department of Labor’s Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act. Retrieved from https://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.pdf

Vocate Editor

Students and employers are not connecting in a meaningful way; the job highway works but the on-ramps are broken. We work every day to fix that so employers can find good employees and students can find their dream job.

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