The real issue is not so much compensation versus free labor, but conflicting motivations. The nonprofit is seeking an unpaid staff person where the intern is seeking education and experience…. I believe that the intern’s interest is better served when the hiring nonprofit can commit to a mentoring role. That also significantly benefits the nonprofit. Unfortunately, it is a rare occurrence.
What’s your experience working with interns or as an intern yourself? I’ve done a number of internships. Some of them were tedious (data entry, proofreading, filing) and others were instrumental in my professional development (volunteer management, marketing, publicity, writing and editing). I can say for sure that I benefited most when I had strong direction from an experienced staff member.
Does your regional association have interns? What kind of work are they doing? What are they getting out of it?
Photo courtesy of SOCIALisBETTER on Flickr.