Seems worth it to hammer one of our favorite nails: informed legal opinion always goes the same way: interns are not free labor up for taking. From Maine:
It’s admirable to mentor the next generation of workers, yet it is nonetheless wise to err on the side of caution by first making sure that your company’s internships do not run afoul of the legal requirements meant to protect employees and employers alike.
In not as many words: if you think that the new generation has something to bring to your company, hire them as paid employees.
Human Resources Executive pretty much gives the same advice (see second question at the bottom). And it raises an important question: what is an intern and what is an employee?
In addressing this question, it is most important to first determine whether the non-paid interns or students are really that — interns or students — and not employees such that the employer is required to pay them in order to comply with the FLSA and related state and city laws.
The assumption is too often that a young employee with little experience is an intern. Or worse: that if you don’t want to pay one of your staff, you can call it an intern. Nope.