This internship program is an educational program sponsored by The Bernstein Foundation, a 501c3 Private Foundation (our IRS determination letter is attached to this company profile). Graduates of the program are eligible to apply for MERIT-BASED scholarships and grants. There are also "Wage Grants" for BIPOC interns who are Section 8 (or equivalent) residents. These NEEDS-BASED grants begin first as 0% interest loans and convert to grants upon graduation from the internship program. The application forms for graduates and "Wage Grants" are attached to our company profile.
Despite its sponsorship by a 501c3 non-profit organization, we strive to remain FLSA-compliant ALSO AS a for-profit company partly so that interns can reasonably make use of the name "Keller Williams" on their resume. However, we also believe that USDOL Factsheet #71 was created not to force for-profit companies into compliance or to discourage for-profit companies from not paying interns but, rather, to provide a model to foster the greatest possible impact on the lives and careers of its interns by establishing the guidelines under which more for-profit companies can provide internship programs.
CORE ASPECTS OF FLSA-COMPLIANCE:
=our diversity & inclusion program alone is designed to have significant social impact
=the internship program is run for interns by interns, but it is always administered by actual staff
=option for course credit
=available option to customize the internship experience to be highly integrated with coursework
=interviews and the internship experience often uncover career development SWOT
=flexibility of alignment with school calendar
=an experience with a minimum of 5 hours per week and maximum of 10 hours per week for 120 days
=sponsorship of OPT/CPT, which increases diversity and inclusion
=near 1:1 gender parity
=significant educational benefit to the intern as proven in recommendations and testimonials, both written and video
=an emphasis on soft skills from program administrators rather than hard (technical) skills
=training manuals, videos, and quizzes for hard skill development
=focus on communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration
=real work, BUT it has already been completed for clients and is being redone by interns in a mock environment
=leadership experience focused on refining knowledge of existing hard skills
=educational environment with syllabus, milestones, weekly meetings, reading/writing/listening assignments
=record of work performed and transparency with other interns
=BIPOC Internship fund/program
=501c3 non-profit sponsor
=diversity in role types and cross-company / cross-department / cross-division interaction system
=wide diversity in culture and race, with interns speaking 1 of +10 native languages other than English
=wide diversity in educational environment with interns from +50 universities globally
=scholarships and grants available for graduates of the internship
=letters of recommendation available for graduates of the internship
=no promise of future employment, but eligibility to apply for it
=zero displacement of paid employees since the internship program is an environment / experience impossible to employ
=no expectation of payment
=career coaching post-internship
=entrepreneurial support post-internship
=satisfaction survey focused on asking whether the participants felt the program is FLSA-compliant
According to a study on 500 Senior Executives performed by Adecco USA, 89% of respondents think that corporate apprenticeship or training programs could help alleviate the skills gap, 44% think that American lack soft skills (communication, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration), and 64% think the lack of a skilled workforce will result in less investment. According to Handshake's 2020 C2C Report, "students'greatest concern when working remotely is feeling isolated." This internship program attacks all of this head on.
With +8,000 hours recorded from +250 interns in the history of the program, +100 interns served per year, from 1 of +50 universities worldwide, who speak 1 of +10 native languages other than English, this internship program is likely the largest and most diverse virtual unpaid FLSA-compliant internship program for a for-profit company in the world. Normally hovering around 10-20 interns at a time, this program was also able to absorb +40 additional interns (for a total of 65 interns) in less than 8 weeks during the onset of the COVID pandemic when all other internship programs were cancelled. Our program was only able to accomplish this impact because of the way the program helped to develop Soft Skills of current interns. We are now attempting to stay under 20 interns at any given time in order to focus on creating a management consulting company to pay graduates of the internship program. We have also recently started a fund to pay only BIPOC interns during the internship program who cannot afford to take time off from work or who cannot afford child care in order to be able to take time off from familiar obligations so that they can participate in this internship program. All interns are given the opportunity to earn course credit, and we authorize both CPT and OPT internships.
Our 120-day internship program sometimes mimics small start-ups and sometimes mimics a large corporation (defining "large" as +20 interns at any given time). There are many departments that interact with each other more or less. We have roles in Valuation, Sales, Marketing, Media/Graphic Design, Public Relations, Diversity & Inclusion, Entrepreneurship, and Human Resources. Each role facilitates learning of Soft Skills (while interns train other interns only on hard/technical skills). There is a syllabus, weekly reading/listening and writing/speaking assignments, and milestones.
CORE ASPECTS OF FLSA-COMPLIANCE (BY TEAM):
Interns with less than 8 weeks financial experience (<5% of applicants) are generally not allowed to join the Valuation Team because the emphasis is on soft skills rather than hard skills. The sophisticated nature of the subject matter as well as the significantly skewed population of interns with +100 weeks experience (>90% of applicants) creates the demand for a higher level experience among colleagues of similar abilities. The role is the most competitive role. The privilege of being able to put the name "KW Commercial" on the intern's resume is tantamount to an intern's ability to get future jobs, especially as it is juxtaposed with the results of the internship experience. The role performs real work, BUT most of it has already been completed for clients and is being redone by interns in a mock environment. Real work may be ad hoc and nominal, representing less than 1-5% of the entire experience, which in comparison to the overall experience, is a significant comparative positive impact on the intern versus on the company.
Interns joining the Sales Team are either extremely confident and need training to learn how and when to "bring it down a notch" or extremely shy and need training to learn how to be confident. This role is usually not good for interns who have already done cold calling unless they are planning to go into sales and love it. It is mostly focused on a very low result-gaining experience of cold calling, which represents 75% of the duration of the program. The remaining 25% is spent on warm calling. For the first 25% of the duration of the program, they make 1 hour of calls per week supervised (less than 20% of their weekly minimum hourly commitment). For the remaining 75% of the duration of the program, they make 1 additional hour of calls per week unobserved (less than a total of 40% of their weekly minimum hourly commitment). While this is technically a for-profit activity, interns are limited only to scheduling meetings, and, out of +40 Sales Interns in the history of the program who each call only 20-100 contacts per week, ONLY ONE intern has ever been successful at scheduling a meeting that resulted in a client (which was a client relationship that was ultimately cancelled). Zero income has been generated from this endeavor. In fact, the cost of the calling software is +$200 per month for the program administrator, and 1,000's of contacts cost $0.20 each (interns are asked to make only 1 contact list manually, limited to only 50 contacts, which takes less than 1 hour to build). Still, interns are motivated by the opportunity to schedule a meeting with a prospective client because of the opportunity to observe unique "hot calls" where agreements are negotiated. Supervised calling sessions are recorded and monitored by the internship program administrator to ensure quality and to create additional opportunities for interns to observe each other. Recordings are rated by usefulness so that interns can focus their time on that if they want. They are required to watch 1 per week but can watch as many as they want whenever they want. Interns also analyze logical fallacies, but in addition to written reflection assignments, interns submit their analysis as recorded speaking assignments, which are also archived for other interns to observe. Rather than reading assignments, interns have listening assignments about sales, negotiation, motivation, and advanced selling techniques via Audible.
The Marketing Team is similar to the Sales Team in that the goal is to schedule an appointment. However, while the Sales Team has the perspective of gaining attention from 1 of +1,000 people, the Marketing Team has the perspective of gaining attention from 1 of +10,000 people because the effort is less direct. Interns joining the Marketing Team have the opportunity to experiment with a wide variety of technical skills. It is most suitable for those with zero to little experience in Marketing. The technical skills are very easy to learn and occur in a high degree of frequency. Interestingly, while interns make 7 social media posts per week each during the firs 6 weeks, which is multiplied by the 5-15 active interns at any given time, the Top 25% achieved less than 1/2 and less than 1/10th of 1 "like" on average per post on Instagram and Twitter, respectively, and that was because they went back to like their own posts. There has also been ZERO appointments, plus the expense of subscriptions to Promo.com, Hootsuite.com, and Canva.com, totaling +$1,000 per year, also with print advertising at $1 per print and 1,000's of contacts cost $0.20 each are ALL covered by the program administrator (interns are asked to make only 1 contact list manually, limited to only 50 contacts, which takes less than 1 hour to build). Thus, a loss of income generated from the +60 interns who have participated in the program over the last 2 years. Therefore, the emphasis of learning is on the conflict that occurs as a result of collaboration and the soft skills necessary to manage a group or direct a team of managers. It usually takes a month before interns take on leadership roles, and more ambitious and capable interns have the opportunity to gain experience with more advanced technical skills at the end of the program if they full-fill their obligations as early as day #90. Additionally, Marketing Interns have to interact with Sales and Valuation team interns who typically lack marketing-style vision. The learning opportunity here is to foster an environment in which Marketing Interns can get experience with explaining their vision to people who have a hard time understanding a marketing vision.
Media/Graphic Design =
The Media Team is perhaps the most impactful in terms of leadership development. Most if not all of the interns joining this team are extremely shy or socially awkward. However, this role is designed to supplement the work of other interns. They work primarily with the Marketing Team (who typically lack advanced design skills) and, through this, the Media Team interns are able to refine their technical skills through how they communicate with the Marketing Interns. They also work with the Entrepreneurship team who typically have basic needs for a logo design or business card design. There is a strict design process for creating designs where Media interns get a chance to interact with members of other teams. The frequency of interacting with strangers has a big impact on these interns. Rarely (estimated at less than 1/10th of 1% of the time) will an intern every get an opportunity to meet with or do anything for a real client.
Public Relations =
This team is the second line of defense for most of the teams. Communication issues are raised to PR as needed. They also control the agenda for the Marketing team. They oversee communication, both internally and externally. Depending on their experience with journalism, they may also write articles for publication. Still, it is largely a multifaceted role comprised mostly (90%) of weekly meetings with many other interns and teams and reading and listening assignments. The PR intern may also serve in the D&I role partially as well as in the Econometrics role occasionally.
Diversity & Inclusion =
The D&I role probably has the biggest social impact of any of the roles. It is a part of the PR Team but focuses internally. Our intern hiring and onboarding process is unique because we do not accept cover letters. Instead we have a unique questionnaire. Those who try to answer the questions in the questionnaire are invited to interview (a minimum of 200 characters is required per response, most interns are accepted if they write 5-8 sentences per response). One of the questions asks the intern to self-identify whether they support Black Lives Matter and why or why not and to what degree they do or do not support it. Nobody is denied participation in the internship program based on the biases in their answers. However, if biases are identified during the resume review, interview, onboarding process or at any other time during the internship, they are required to meet with the D&I intern once per week for merely 30 minutes, individually and confidentially, to discuss a unique bias per week after a reading/video/listening assignment. The program is 17 weeks long, and most interns have 1-3 biases. This role also hosts diversity cohort meetings for open discussion as well.
The Econometrics role potentially has a real moderate impact on local communities. The role performs research on a local community and writes mini-economic development plans that we later attempt to publish. The program administrator is an Economic Ambassador for a local mayoral think tank.
This role is not so much of an internship for KW as it is an internship for themselves independently. There is a huge opportunity to garner FREE professional consulting advice from the program administrator who is a professional business broker and consultant and who regularly introduces interns to other relevant mentors. There are twice as many reading/listening assignments (Sales and Marketing team combined), and we meet once per week to just chat about their activity building a real business of their own. While the program administrator hopes to one day sell the business of the intern, there is no obligation to do so, and the intern does not sacrifice equity either.
Human Resources =
The HR team is FLSA compliant because it runs the operations of the internship program, which as a whole is a non-profit activity itself. However, it is a fine balance with real work and mentorship as the activities needed to run the program are frequent and exhaustive. Still, the interns know that this is an internship and not a job and are, therefore, reminded of that when they treat it like a job. This is monitored through analysis of various dashboards. In terms of motivation for performance, unlike the other teams who are motivated to do more than the minimum, the HR team is inspired to try to do less than the maximum. HR people tend to be high achievers and have a great deal of capacity to perform and a big desire to prove that. As a result, the soft skill that is emphasized in this role is the skill of being able to throttle ones efforts, trying to do closer to 5 hours per week and not exceeding 10 hours per week. The interns also act as an emotional resource for interns experience difficult conflict inside or outside the internship program. This role is HIGHLY integrated with coursework, and it is HIGHLY collaborative with other HR interns.
CORE ASPECTS OF FLSA-COMPLIANCE (OVERALL):
More than 40% of time spent among interns who graduate from the program is spent on leadership of other interns, including everything from onboarding and welcoming new interns in the program to interns training other interns on hard skills (technical skills) that may be lacking. Within leadership functions, depending on the team and the size of the team, there are also opportunities for leadership roles akin to not only being a manager but also being director of managers. This leadership experience for the interns, which is focused on hard skills (through the development, collaboration, delivery, and review of pre-made but evolving training manuals) and which is an important component of FLSA-compliance because the internship administrator must oversee training that is similar to what would be given in an educational environment (particularly soft skills, critical thinking, weekly meetings, and reading/listening assignments), which is training that cannot be lead by and is not lead by other interns.
Less than 40% of time spent among interns who graduate from the program is spent on independent activities, +25% of which are reading/listing or writing/speaking assignments. Other actions are usually very limited in scope and duration so that they can be completed in a reasonable timeframe to repeat the action. Because the actions of the interns are tied the actions of their peers, poor timeliness and lack of communication often create conflict and, thus, new opportunities for developing Soft Skills. Another important aspect of FLSA-compliance is that the actions mimic productive work in an “employee type way”, but they are assignments that have already been completed separate from the internship or are actual services provided for free or to raise donations for the BIPOC Internship fund. It is not surprising that interns from privileged backgrounds (most of the internship cohort) are eager to volunteer their skills in order to gain more experience with interns from underprivileged backgrounds. "Wage Grants" for BIPOC Interns are currently being offered, and there is an application form attached to our company profile. We expect to sponsor our first BIPOC intern in the Spring of 2021, and we are seeking additional funds in order to be able to sponsor at least 10% of our cohort via this program.
About 20% of time spent among interns who graduate from the program is individual and group time spent with the program administrator who supervises, on a weekly basis, the performance of teams and individual interns. Part of this supervision includes ensuring a minimum of 5 hours per week and a maximum of 10 hours per week (unless otherwise prescribed by their University). There are also mechanisms in place for probation as well as flexibility with the option of electing for a hiatus, where interns can return to complete the program at another time in the future. This is a critical component of FLSA-compliance.
To keep everything organized while increasing the extent of learning versus the extent of for-profit activities, we have a syllabus and an activity log. EVERYTHING is recorded in an "action list", and EACH action must have a satisfactory reflection of a minimum of 200 characters. Key milestones, which are also requirements for "graduation" from the internship, are in place to focus on the balance between leadership and for-profit activity. These milestones are measured in a slew of dashboards that automatically analyze performance in order to quantify accountability, for both the intern and the program's FLSA-compliance. Benefits for those who graduate include: course credit (if required/desired), career coaching, entrepreneurial support, unlimited letters of recommendation, eligibility to apply for scholarships and grants for post-graduate education, certifications, licenses, and designations, and eligibility to apply to be hired for unique projects for payment. A discretionary gift is considered not for those who do the most for-profit activity but instead for those who "play hard" and display unique attributes of leadership and contribute significantly to the quality of the experience for other interns in the program.
To measure intern satisfaction, a survey is sent automatically a few days after the 120 day marker (whether or not the intern graduates from the internship program). A "positive" response is defined as them hypothetically denying payment or as them assigning payment to be donated for a unique charitable purpose. Among all the respondents in the entire history of the program (including those who are terminated or who quit), 64% responded positively. Among all of those participated in the last 120 days, 73% responded positively. Among all of those who graduated or were promoted in the entire history of the internship program, 72% responded positively. Among all of those who graduated in the last 120 days, 88% responded positively. When positive responders were asked how they would prefer payment to be donated, 97.3% of those who responded positively would have wanted the funds donated to The Bernstein Foundation or to Russell, himself.
CORE ASPECTS OF FLSA-COMPLIANCE (PROGRAM ADMINISTRATOR):
Overall, Russell is doing this internship program for only 2 reasons:
1. to recruit and develop future business brokers and investment bankers
2. to form long-term relationships with those who will be in a good position to refer themselves or another business owner/investor to Russell
Less than 5% of all interns in the history of the program want to go into Real Estate; only 5 have ever tried to get their real estate license, and only 1 has been successful. Only 20% of all interns in the history of the program are considering investment banking. Everyone else just wants business experience, and this program facilitates that experience in a unique way that models a real environment.
The program administrator, Russell Bernstein, is an award-winning "business broker". He helps people value, buy, and sell businesses that include the lease or sale of real estate. He is a 2020 CityBusiness MoneyMakers Honoree (because of what this internship program accomplished during the onset of COVID), a 2019 Economic Development Ambassador for the New Orleans Business Alliance, and the 2018 Rising Star Awardee from the Commercial Investment Division of the New Orleans Association of REALTORS in 2018.
Russell is also a member of the International Business Broker's Association, Commercial Investment Division of the New Orleans Association of Realtors, and the Turnaround Management Association. He has the Certified Business Intermediary (CBI) designation from the IBBA, and he is one of 500 people in the USA with a CBI, the only one within 50 miles of New Orleans with a CBI, only 1 of 2 within 100 miles with a CBI, and only 1 of 3 in Keller Williams globally with a CBI. He is also a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS), and likely the only on in the world who is also a CBI. He also has an MBA.
In terms of leadership and training experience, Russell has coached at every level from age-group sports to the National team level, and he has this coaching experience on 3 different continents and with players who speak zero English. He has also started 10 non-profit organizations at the local, regional, national, and global level, one with 1500 members nationwide in a foreign country. Also in a foreign country, he was once a Head Teacher for a flagship branch of a national franchise.
The sponsored company in this internship program is Keller Williams Worldwide (“KW”), which is the #1 real estate franchise in the USA, the world’s largest real estate franchise, and the #1 training organization (of any business type) in the world. Each office is independently owned and operated. Russell Bernstein's office is the #1 office in a variety of categories in the entire Southern Region of the United States. Russell is registered as a Commercial Real Estate Agent specifically with the office doing business as KW Commercial 889-9898 & Keller Williams Realty 4550100.
The sponsor of this internship program, The Bernstein Foundation, is a 501c3 Private Foundation representing the philanthropic interests of Russell Bernstein and his family. Graduates of this internship program are eligible to apply for scholarships and grants for post-graduate education, degrees, certifications, and designations. BIPOC interns are also eligible to apply for a grant to pay them for time spent in this internship program so that they can afford to take time off from work or so that they can afford daycare in order to be able to take time off from familial obligations. Funds are received almost entirely from the KW profit-sharing plan where a portion of commissions generated by KW agents recruited by Russell Bernstein are redirected to this fund. More than 5% of this fund are required to be distributed toward or spent on public charitable purposes and charities.
COMMON QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS FROM UNIVERSITY CAREER CENTERS
These internships are FLSA compliant according to USDOL Factsheet 71
Verifiable street address is inside W9 attached to the company profile
Corporate email domain is valid. There are 2 email addresses because one is to my personal website, where it describes my activities more accurately than on the KW website. Feel free to call the office to confirm as well as look me up in the agent directory on kwcommercial.com
Our company profile is extensive.
We are not a 3rd party recruiter
We do not charge fees
We do not seek students for campus ambassadors; door-to-door sales, multi-level marketing; home-based businesses.