Do I have to pay the interns?
That's a good question, and the short answer is "not necessarily." We aren't lawyers, so you'll want to know what the rules are within your jurisdiction regarding unpaid internships are. Often, unpaid internships can count toward college credit for the intern.
But let's talk this out a bit. If you can afford to pay an hourly wage, or a stipend, you should. After all, the average hourly rate for an intern is only $18.73/hr according to the 2018 NACE Guide to Compensation for Interns & Co-ops.
When you pay a wage, it enables economically disadvantaged youth to participate. Many students are in a situation where they fund their own schooling, unable to rely upon family for financial resources.
Here's the cool part: Paid or unpaid, interns are an inexpensive resource. Any rate that you pay them are likely to be significantly lower than full time employees, and you aren't obligated to pay unemployment or a severance package. Internships are the ultimate try-before-you-buy program!
If you already have an internship program, you've probably realized that interns give the best "bang for the buck" due to the low wage requirements paired with the candidate's extremely high motivation to succeed.