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A Nation of Interns: Should They Be Background Checked Too?

Ross Perlin’s recently published book, Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little, examined the controversial nature behind the rising trend of exploiting student labor in ways that are of little benefit to the student. As students and recent graduates more aggressively pursue internships to pad their resumes, corporations are reciprocally developing roles for these interns to fill. Many of these internships aren’t full time or permanent. But as they become more prevalent—Perlin cites that over 50% of Disney’s staff consists of college interns—the question arises: should interns be background checked as well?

Common approaches of screening college interns include verifying the information on their resumes, especially if that GPA looks impressively high, as well as drug tests for internships in the government sector. But screening such as these can be time consuming and costly, especially if your interns are far and many. Granted, the forfeiture of hiring a bad intern is not as drastic as signing an unqualified employee on a full-time contract. Still, as waves of qualified candidates roll in vying for internship spots, employers are rethinking previously imposed limitations of interns’ roles, many times allowing them to take on more enterprising tasks. And if interns are stepping up to the plate and being held responsible for work comparable to their full-time counterparts, shouldn’t their background and work ethics be monitored as a prerequisite, too?

Forty or fifty years ago, the word “interning” wasn’t as embedded in most college students’ vocabulary as it is today. For today’s undergraduates, the word “summer” is almost synonymous with “internship.” J. Isaac Spradlin termed it “The Evolution of Interns.” And if the internship industry is evolving, background screening may be on the spot for an additional niche to fill.

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  1. Michel Roy 20 Jul

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