Tag Archives: interns


Helios Scholars at TGen featured at symposium

The 45 interns in the 2014 Helios Scholars at TGen summer internship program graduated today, following a daylong scientific symposium at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel.

Arizona’s future leaders in biology and medicine worked for eight weeks in one of the nation’s premier scientific internship programs, sponsored by the Helios Education Foundation in partnership with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

At today’s symposium, students presented scientific posters and oral presentations about their biomedical investigations, which were conducted under the one-on-one guidance and mentorship of TGen researchers. Like their mentors, Helios Scholars use cutting-edge technology to help discover the genetic causes of diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, infectious disease and many types of cancer.

This is the eighth class of Helios Scholars at TGen, funded for 25 years by Helios Education Foundation. Helios is focused on creating opportunities for individuals to succeed in postsecondary education by advancing the academic preparedness of all students and fostering a high-expectations, college-going culture in Arizona and Florida.

“TGen’s summer intern program enables students to learn first-hand what it is like to work in a professional scientific environment, and helps them discover the skills they will need to make important contributions in science and medicine,” said Helios Education Foundation President and CEO Paul Luna. “The Helios Scholars at TGen program is helping prepare students for further academic success and for meaningful careers that not only benefit them, but will improve people’s lives through breakthrough medical and scientific research.”

The program is open to Arizona high school, undergraduate and graduate level students, including those in medical school.

“Our partnership with the Helios Education Foundation helps prepare a new generation of biomedical investigators for Arizona,” said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, TGen’s President and Research Director. “As we help them explore the biosciences beyond the classroom, TGen provides them with opportunities to participate in potentially life-changing research that can benefit actual patients.”

Helios Scholars also participate in professional development programs in science communication, public speaking, and basic business etiquette. This year’s interns were selected from among more than 500 applications.

“Our students arrive here with a passion for science and medicine,” said Julie Euber, TGen’s Education and Outreach Specialist and supervisor of the Helios Scholars at TGen. “Participating in authentic research projects helps shape their skills and abilities, preparing them for a lifetime of discovery and achievement in the biosciences.”

The program application opens in January of each year for the following summer at www.tgen.org/intern.

Intern Season: The Six Criteria To Allow Unpaid Internships

Intern Season: The Six Criteria To Allow Unpaid Internships

Here’s the six criteria a business must meet in order to allow unpaid internships.

It’s no secret that today’s economy is tough.

Students are working hard to learn needed skills in the career of their choice, while current members of our workforce are going back to school and training to learn a new trade.

The result?

Business vets are joining this year’s crop of students as fall interns. They will work away — often for free — in hopes of a future job, a resume builder and even to sample “the real world.”

There is just one problem; in many cases, this is illegal for both the business vets and students.

It’s true.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which is the federal law requiring the payment of minimum wages and overtime compensation, generally prohibits unpaid internships, especially in the private, for-profit sector, has long had spottily-enforced rules on just this issue.

And — things are getting serious.

In recent years, the Department of Labor issued a very specific crackdown regarding unpaid employees — a six-point checklist on just how far an internship can go before requiring a business to pay up by at least offering minimum wage.

The six criteria a business must meet in order to allow unpaid internships are:

1.     The internship, even though  it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;

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;

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;

5.     The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and,

6.     The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

If an internship does not meet all of the above areas, the “intern” needs to be paid at least minimum wage as well as overtime as needed. In addition, a true internship should always be offered for a specific, defined time frame — and should never promise potential future work.

In the past, this hope for future work has kept interns from complaining of no pay — and kept employers safe from getting what amounts to free labor. This is not the case any longer. Since the release of the specified internship criteria, the Department of Labor has cracked down on what qualifies as an employee versus as internship in the strictest of senses.

So, what does the Department of Labor mean when it says “crackdown”?

What can really happen to a business not caught paying its interns?

Specifically, employers not in compliance with the Department of Labor regulations face legal exposure both from the government and a potential lawsuit. Penalties can include owing back pay, taxes not withheld, Social Security, unemployment benefits, interest, attorneys’ fees and liquidated damages (double the unpaid wages).

Some tips on offering — and taking — internships moving forward:

  • Work the internship through a local college or university — many will offer course credit and specifics tasks that relate back to educational training;
  • Keep written, reviewed records specifying that no internship will ever guarantee legal employment to set expectations upfront;
  • Encourage interns to shadow team members rather than actively participate in the workload;
  • Never offer training specific ONLY to your company — offer a broad education and experiences about the industry instead; and,
  • Offer hourly payment to all interns, trainees and other seasonal members of the team no matter what.

One final note – unpaid internships at nonprofit, charitable organizations, where the interns volunteer without the expectation of compensation, are usually permissible.

For more information about unpaid internships, please visit laborlawyers.com.