Internships and the Fair Labor Standards Act

Graphic from Stony Brook University

As an intern, it is important for you to know your compensation rights. If you are working at a “for-profit” organization, you will usually be considered an employee and must be paid at least minimum wage and overtime compensation. However, the U.S. Department of Labor has developed criteria to decide if interns can be unpaid.

The test for unpaid internships:

  1. The internship is similar to training that would be given in an educational environment. The more the internship program is structured like an academic experience, as opposed to the employer’s training program, the more likely the internship will be considered an educational experience. The skills the intern learns must be less specific to the company and more specific to multiple employment settings.
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern.
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff. If the intern is substituting for regular workers or the employer would have hired additional employees instead of the intern, then the intern must be paid. If the intern is participating in job shadowing opportunities but they are not carrying out the work, the intern does not have to be paid.
  4. 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 should not perform routine work of the business on a regular basis, and the organization should not be dependent on the intern’s work. Even clerical or customer service work will not exclude the employer from paying the intern minimum wage because the organization receives benefit from the intern, but the intern is not gaining a new skill.
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship. The internship should be for a fixed period of time and decided upon before the internship begins. It should not be considered a trial period for individuals seeking employment at the end of the internship. If the intern is hired for a trial period, they should be considered a paid employee.
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

If each of these bolded criteria are met, the intern is not considered an employee and is not required to receive minimum wage and overtime compensation. Read more about internships and the FLSA here.

Employers:  In order to protect yourself against Fair Labor Standards Act, you should  offer compensation, agreement to help the intern obtain college credit or both. Learn more about the journalism’s department’s internship class.

Graphic from Stony Brook University.

Before an interview, prepare and anticipate

CBS Money Watch posted a few new tips on job interviewing. Some of their tips focus on preparing for and anticipating what the interviewer will ask:

  • Prepare answers in advance for frequently asked interview

    The job interview is not the time to share that you'll need to leave work at 4:45 each day for tennis practice

    questions. By anticipating what your interviewer will ask, you can make your answers more effective and avoid giving cliche answers.

  • Don’t state your demands during an interview: In most interview situations, it’s not appropriate to share your high-maintenance demands. In a career, you may have to make some sacrifices, one of which may include leaving at5 p.m. every day. So, don’t tell your interviewer that you have to leave at a certain time everyday to make tennis practice. Unfortunately, depending on the flexibility of your schedule, this  also applies to leaving early to pick up your child from school.
  • Communicate an appropriate level of ambition. Even if you are truly not sure what you want to do with your life, you need to have some idea so you can communicate that you have goals in life. On the other hand, presenting yourself as too ambitious may give the interviewer the impression that wouldn’t think twice about leaving your job for a better opportunity.
  • Be positive. Be positive about everything from the weather to your previous boss. If the time comes for you to critique the company or your past experiences, remember that the interviewer is trying to find out how you improved the difficult situation with your skill set.
  • Don’t pretend that you’re 100 percent perfect. Have a high level of self-esteem while you’re in an interview, but don’t act like you’re perfect. For example, a common interview question asks for your weaknesses. Instead of denying that one exists, talk about a weakness or attribute that is not central to the job you’re applying for. You may even want to talk about how you’re trying to overcome that weakness.

Photo courtesy of via

Make a great first impression at your new job

Amy Levin-Epstein at CBS Money Watch gathered tips from the career experts of the Internet to help newbies work through their first month:

  • Take advantage of your the first few weeks by asking questions. This is your opportunity to show genuine interest in your field and learn from your coworkers.
  • Arrive to work early and stay late. But if you just can’t make yourself wake up an hour early, know that it’s especially important to be on time.
  • Get to know your company by researching and asking about the company culture.
  • Attend after work events so your coworkers know you’re excited to get to know and work with them.
  • Don’t stress out about your future at the company. Stay focused on today and how you can excel at your current projects.

Read all the tips here.

Take the job search to your smartphone

With a smartphone, you can take your job search to the grocery store while waiting in line or to campus while waiting for class to begin. But instead of trying to access a company’s HR site in your phone’s browser, download one or two of these apps to make the hunt easier:

For interview prep, make sure to utilize your phone’s:

  • Calendar. Mark the dates of all your interviews, when you would like to follow up and set reminders.
  • GPS. Your phone’s GPS can provide a route to your interview, but add an extra 10-15 minutes to the estimated travel time.
  • Note taking app. After the interview, making note of your stronger and weaker moments will help you while preparing for future interviews.

Read the full article and find out more info about individual apps at TechRepublic.

Job search advice from recent hires

Forbes interviewed recent hires to find out the job search techniques they had in common. Here are the top five:

  • Be persistent. Don’t send out applications and resumes then forget about them. Make a spreadsheet of what companies and positions you’ve applied to and when, along with contact information. Send an e-mail or make a follow-up phone call to show your interest.

  • Focus on the quality, not quantity, of job applications. You may think that if you send out 50 resumes a week, you’re sure to get an offer. This may not be the case, so spend a lot of time applying to the jobs you really want.
  • Utilize Twitter accounts that post job opportunities. Follow professional organizations, companies you love and industry accounts related to your field. The month you forget to check for openings at a specific company may be the month an opening is posted on a Twitter feed you follow. Follow our Twitter account (@Memphisjourjobs)  to get timely updates on the jobs we post.
  • Blog. Blogging and journalism are beginning to go hand-in-hand. If you’re not working in the business yet, blogging can be a way to show off writing skills and creativity. You can add the link to your online portfolio, mention it in an interview or put the link in your cover letter.
  • Polish your social media profiles. Hopefully you know by now not to let photos, statuses, etc. that could be damaging to your reputation be accessible to the general public. Beyond that, you should make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and attractive to employers. Did you know LinkedIn has a skills section? It’s a quick and easy way to showcase your abilities. You can include skills like AP style and video editing.

Read all the tips at

Three questions a seasoned interviewer will ask

While preparing for an interview, you can’t predict the exact questions you will be asked. But there’s a good chance the interviewer will ask questions about skill, motivation and suitability with the company.

  1. Can you do the job? Before the interview, make sure you’ve read over the job description so you can identify each area where your skills match. Write down examples of how you’ve exhibited those skills.
  2. Will you love the job? Studying up on the company proves you’re motivated and interested. Additionally, come up with examples of how the job will fit with your career plans.
  3. Can they tolerate working with you? The interviewer will think about how you will fit with the rest of his team and organization. Find out about the company’s culture and core values to ensure you can prove you’re a great fit.

Read the full article at Fortune.

8 New Websites for Your Resume

Multiple experts predict the death of the resume in favor of the online profile in the near future. But on the flip side, resumes will always be needed at some point during the hiring process for official company records.

As a result, new websites are popping up to help you with both sides of the equation. (Three tools—RÉSUNATE, One-Page Proposal, and Hello There—were mentioned in a previous article, 11 New Websites for Your Job Search.)

Click here to read full article from U.S. News.

Dos and Don’ts for Creating Your Online Presence

Many of us live a large part of our lives online. So it’s no wonder that your online presence can have a major influence on your career success.

If your present or potential employer searched for you online, what would they find? Would those search results reveal a professional with many marketable skills? Or could the results do more harm than good for your career?

Keep reading to learn the essential dos and don’ts for creating (or updating) your online presence. Read more from

How to Write a Journalism Resume

There are many different formats you can use when writing a resume for a journalism job or journalism internship, but here are a few guidelines:

  • Keep it simple and brief – no more than one typed-page. Even journalists with 20+ years experience manage to keep their resume to one page, so there’s no reason a young journalists shouldn’t be able to do the same.
  • It should be informative, accurate and consistent in structure. Avoid gaudy resumes with unusual fonts or bright paper as they attract attention for the wrong reasons.
  • Include your name, address, cell phone number and e-mail address at the top, followed by a section that lays out your college and work/activities in reverse chronological order (so, most recent first), including dates. After your first year of college, leave off any high school experiences as they are usually no longer relevant.
  • It’s unnecessary to state an objective.
  • Include any special skills, such as multimedia or computer skills. If you speak a foreign language at least conversationally, list it as a skill. Many employers are keenly interested such skills.
  • At the bottom list your education, including your college, major, expected graduation date and G.P.A. (if it’s above 3.0). Many career services offices will tell you to put your education information at the top of your resume. But, in journalism, experience (including internships and student media) usually matters more.

[Taken from Career Advice section. Click here to read the whole article.]

Five Traits That Might Land You a Job @ Patch

Former television news professional, Missouri prof and now regional editor for, Holly Edgell, shares what she looks for in a job candidate.

“Interested in writing about suburban planning meetings and local restaurant openings?  That may not match the glamorous vision you’ve had of life as a journalist, but hyperlocal thinks it the future of the craft.  This AOL-funded venture in community news offers quality reporting to areas that don’t receive much media coverage, yet have a highly enganged and connected citizenry.” Read more.

(Article by Lurene Kelley, Asst. Prof. of News, University of Memphis)