Internship Q+A

Internships can be posted to Compass@CalArts.

Internships for academic credit can be hosted during teh Fall (September - December) ,Spring (January -May), and Summer (May-August).

A common question asked by employers is whether the employer must pay an intern for his/her work. Be mindful that although unpaid internships are a possibility, a paid internship of at least minimum wage per hour will generate a larger and more talented candidate pool. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has developed six criteria for identifying a learner/trainee who may be unpaid. The criteria are:

  • The training, even though it includes actual operation of the employer’s facilities, is similar to training that would be given in a vocational school.
  • The training is for the benefit of the student.
  • The student does not displace regular employees, but works under the close observation of a regular employee.
  • The employer provides the training and derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the student. Occasionally, the training may actually impede the operations.
  • The student is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period.
  • The employer and the student understand that the student is not entitled to wages for the time spent training.

All six factors do not necessarily have to be present for an individual to be considered a trainee, however the experience must ultimately look more like a training/learning experience than a job. If the position does not meet trainee criteria, the Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay employees at least minimum wage for all hours of work performed.

All interns receiving academic credit must complete a CalArts Internship contract.Once formally offered the position, the student will provide the contract to the employer for verification and signature. The contract outlines the basic work agreement between the intern and the host. That is, what duties the intern will have, what they will learn, and the hours and days the intern will work. 

If the host site requires a separate contract for the intern to sign, a blank copy must be given to the Center for Life and Work to keep on file.

In the event the intern submits original material to be considered for development by the organization, or any of its affiliates or subsidiaries, the organization must negotiate with the intern in good faith for the acquisition of rights in and to the original material.

The on-site supervisor should contact The Center for Life and Work at (661) 291-3419 or with questions and concerns regarding CalArts interns.


The CalArts Center for Life and Work's (CLW) employment resources are provided free of charge to employers and to student job seekers. All hiring and compensation for work performed by student employees is handled directly between the student and the employer. CLW does not perform background checks on students applying for jobs, nor on employers posting job opportunities. Employers and students are encouraged to request reference information from each other as needed to establish qualifications, credentials and overall fit between the employer and the student applicant.

All job listings are posted at the discretion of CLW. Jobs and/or internships that appear to discriminate against applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, age, national origin, disabled or Vietnam Era veteran status, sexual orientation, disability, or gender will not be posted. CLW also reserves the right to refuse to post jobs and/or internships that are not related to visual and performing arts, and that do not comply with the Equal Employment Opportunity standards and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regarding unpaid internships.