Paying Interns an Hourly Wage Is the Right Thing To Do

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MP&F recently welcomed a new class of interns. These talented young people were chosen to spend the fall semester at MP&F after a competitive round of interviews with our team of intern coordinators. Like every intern class before them, they are eager to get to work and grateful for the experience.

Fall 2016 intern, Kelsey Hutchinson, doing work for one of her six client teams.

Fall 2016 intern, Kelsey Hutchinson, doing work for one of her six account teams.

In my opinion, however, the experience they are getting – as important as that is for their careers – is not an equal trade for the work they produce, and I cannot imagine not paying them for what they do on behalf of our clients.

In 2013, MP&F moved from an internship model where we reimbursed our student interns for their credit hours to one where we paid them for each hour they work in our office, up to 40 hours per week. We made this change because not all of the colleges where our interns study recognize internships for course credit. There also was a broader debate about the legality of not compensating interns for their time. In the end, though, we felt that paying our interns an hourly wage was the right thing to do.

The debate over paid versus unpaid interns is ongoing. Just last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned a 2013 ruling that said Fox Searchlight pictures should have paid its interns minimum wage for their work on the film “Black Swan.” Countless articles have been written about internships and how not paying students for their work marginalizes those who need income to pay for school or other necessities.

Diversity fellow, Aya Harasawa, working on-site during Marine Week Nashville.

At MP&F, we believe that paying our interns is a square deal for all concerned. Our interns are a part of our account teams, and we charge our clients for their time. They are doing real work for our clients, including tracking digital ads, writing success stories, making media calls and working events. They interact with their supervisors and other team members on a daily basis. While they may cover the phones every now and then, they don’t run personal errands. (We’ll get our own hypo-allergenic pillows, thank you.) They are embraced by our staff and included in our culture of teaching and teamwork. And best of all, they are compensated for their time, allowing MP&F to attract the best and brightest students from a variety of backgrounds.

To learn more about MP&F’s internship program, visit www.mpfnewsite.wpengine.com/careers.

MP&F Intern Program by the Numbers:

Number of interns hired as full-time staff since 1988: 46

Number of current staff members who were once interns: 15

Hourly wage for interns: $10.10

Average number of client teams per intern: 8

Average hours per week per intern: 30

Number of interns in the fall 2016 class: 6

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