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Internships Overview

  • What Qualifies as an Internship?
    Internships give students the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills they have learned in the classroom and apply them in the real world. Internships often provide students with academic credit and allow them to learn real-life lessons about job-related habits and skills. A quality internship:

    • Consists of a part-time work schedule that includes no more than 20% clerical or administrative duties
    • Provides a clear job/project description for the work experience
    • Orients the student to the organization, its "culture," and proposed work assignment(s)
    • Helps the student develop and achieve learning goals 
    • Offers feedback to the student intern regularly
  • What Students Expect from Internships
    • To gain real work experience and provide meaningful assistance to the company- they don't want to be gophers!
    • To have a mentor who provides guidance, feedback, receptiveness, and professionalism
    • To gain experience and skills in a particular field
    • To develop professional contacts
    • To gain exposure to upper management
    • To receive an orientation to the company for which they are interning. This is a way to introduce the student to the company's mission and goals, as well as to provide them with information about company rules, regulations, and procedures. This is also an opportunity to introduce the intern to fellow employees who they can go to in the future with questions.
  • Benefits of Hiring an Intern
    • Ease workload of regular employees
    • Enable employees to focus on higher level tasks
    • Meet short-term staffing needs
    • Complete "Priority C" tasks/projects 
    • Utilize a cost effective employment strategy
    • Obtain access to highly motivated students who can fill staffing needs
    • Complete finite projects
    • Develop pipeline of future employees
    • Prepare tomorrow's workforce
    • Inject enthusiasm and fresh ideas into your organization
    • Provide practical learning opportunities to students 
    • Take advantage of students' tech and social media savvy 
  • Writing an Effective Internship Posting
    • Keep it simple
    • Use key words that attract students
    • Specify paid or unpaid. If paid, state the payment details
    • Review internship postings for examples to draw from
    • Include an overview of the job, including potential projects and tasks that could be assigned
    • List expected outcomes for the position
    • Include a list of required skills and qualifications
  • Employer Responsibilities
    • Set clear objectives and expectations for the position.
    • Assign meaningful tasks and duties that help further the organization's mission.
    • Evaluate the intern and provide regular feedback.
    • Schedule regular meetings between the intern and his/her supervisor to allow open discussion of expectations, upcoming projects, and progress the intern is making. This also allows the intern to ask questions and express concerns.
    • Provide adequate training and supervision to make the internship a real learning experience.
    • Provide the tools, materials, and equipment needed for the intern to be able to complete required assignments.
    • Select and train appropriate supervisors and mentors who will guide the intern, assist in skill development, and answer questions.
    • Include the student intern in relevant meetings when possible so he/she can gain experience attending business meetings.
    • Include the intern in company social events to provide networking opportunities.
    • Provide a professional environment that fosters a safe and productive work atmosphere.
    • Conduct business in an ethical manner.
    • Provide a final evaluation at the conclusion of the internship to discuss the intern's performance and accomplishments, and also identify strengths and opportunities for continued development.
    • Meet any educational requirements set forth by the student's home institution if the internship is being taken for academic credit- this includes providing enough hours, assignments, etc. 


    Sample Timeline:

    First Day/Week: Review work policies and procedures, including hours, breaks, work attire, and any relevant guidelines the intern needs to follow while at your place of business; establish learning objectives with the intern and create a plan of action for meeting these objectives.

    Mid-Way through Internship: Conduct a mid-point evaluation with the intern to review progress made towards the established objectives; provide performance feedback; identify steps the intern needs to take to meet all objectives and goals by the internship's end.

    Conclusion of the Internship: Conduct a final review and evaluation.

  • For Credit, Paid & Non-Paid Internships
    For Credit Internships

    If offering an internship for credit, be prepared to complete paperwork required from the student's college or university. The best option is to allow students to decide if they would like to earn credit for the internship. While earning credit may be a desirable option for the student, requiring that students earn credit while completing your internship will limit the number of students who can apply because there are many factors a student must consider when taking an internship for credit, such as:

    • Can I pay the tuition required for the credits?
    • Does the timeframe of the internship coincide with my class term?
    • Will my academic program approve this internship for credit purposes?

    For these reasons, we recommend you leave earning credit as an optional part of your internship. Use language such as "School credit may be available- we can work with your college career center to determine eligibility for class credit." If you would like to require that the student earn credit, you can specify "must be taken for credit," but you can't specify how many credits or any additional terms- this is determined by the student's college or university. 

    Paid & Non-Paid Internships

    • Payment options include hourly wages, stipends, and/or reimbursement for parking, gas, etc.
    • Payment and any credit earned for the internship should be handled separately, without connection to each other. 
    • We encourage employers to pay interns whenever possible, as this allows students who must earn income to participate in meaningful internship experiences instead of having to earn wages at a part-time job.
    • If you cannot pay an hourly wage or stipend, consider offering reimbursements for parking, gas, or other expenses incurred by your interns.
    • The U.S. Department of Labor has developed criteria for when learners/trainees, such as interns, may be unpaid. For additional information on these criteria see "Must Interns Be Paid?" by Steven Rothberg:
  • Legal Concerns

    While designing your internship program you may need to consider the impact of various legal issues. Contact your organization's attorney with any questions, or for further information. Some of the major legal factors impacting internship programs include:

    International Students
    International students can bring new perspectives to your organization as interns. They bring insight from their own cultures, and are eager to experience the professional world in the United States. There are several types of visas granted to international students, most of which allow for the student to work off-campus. The office for international programs at the student's campus will be able to advise the student regarding his/her work authorization status and particular type of student visa.

    Intellectual Property
    Interns may be required to work on projects where intellectual property rights are a concern. Typically, if new employees would be asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement, an intern may be asked to do so as well. If you are concerned, seek legal counsel on how to proceed.

    Benefits and Insurance
    Benefits are not typically offered to interns, since internships are short-term in nature. Most students will have insurance coverage through their colleges or universities, or will be covered under their parents' policies. If you have questions regarding benefits and insurance, contact your attorney.

    Equal Employment Opportunity
    Federal and state regulations regarding Equal Employment Opportunity apply to the employment of interns as well as full-time employees. For further information, speak with your Human Resources department or legal counsel.

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