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Guidelines for Internships

Internship Guide for Employers

Description of an internship

 What it is

  • An internship is a monitored work experience that has intentional learning outcomes and goals for students. It focuses on personal career development and can be a semester, summer, or even year-long program.
  • Internships consist of educationally enriching projects with outlined responsibilitiesmentoringevaluationquality training and supervision. Seventy-five percent of job assignments should relate to the student's major or career interests and involve both creative problem solving and progressively increased levels of responsibility. The majority of job assignments should relate to the student’s major or career interests and involve both creative problem-solving and progressively increased levels of responsibility. A minimal amount of an intern’s assignments should include clerical work.

What it is NOT

  • An unsupervised, part-time job with tasks unrelated to career experience and growth.

Internships provide employers with:

  • Highly motivated students
  • Quality work and new perspectives
  • A pool of potential full-time employees to hire once the internship ends and the student graduates
  • Increased visibility of your company, non-profit organization, or agency on our campus

Department of Labor Requirements

  • The U.S. Department of Labor has created guidelines for employers who utilize interns to determine whether an intern must be paid. These guidelines dictate how interns must be compensated in for-profit, private companies.
  • All interns must be paid, UNLESS all six criteria are met:
    • “The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
    • The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
    • The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
    • The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
    • The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
    • The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.”
  • For more information, visit the Department of Labor's fact sheet.

How to get started

Set goals for the internship program

  • Make clear decisions about what you want to get out of having an intern and what you want an intern to get out of working with your company, non-profit organization, or agency.
  • List the duties of your intern and any projects you may want him or her to be a part of; also consider your expectations of an intern.

Things to consider

  • Paid vs. unpaid vs. credit
    • Academic credit is not a substitute for a salary!
    • Credit is not a requirement; however, many employers and students find that being enrolled in an internship seminar course will make the experience even more educationally enriching. The course will require students to actively reflect on their learning through reading and through writing journals or papers. They are likely to think critically about the connections between the theory in their courses and the application in the workplace.
    • Additionally, employers are unable to “offer” credit. Students will need to work with their academic adviser, the internship coordinator in their academic department, or Immaculata's Office of Career and Professional Development to navigate the process of enrolling in an internship seminar course.
    • If a student enrolls in an internship seminar course, or if you require that the student be in the course, you can expect to need to complete some paperwork. Generally at the start of the semester or when the student is offered the internship, they will need an offer letter and detailed position description from the employer.
  • Duration
    • How long will the internship last? A semester? A summer? A full year?
      • Internships typically last for a semester, either fall, spring, or summer. This is about 15 weeks in length. Occasionally, a student will stay with an internship for two semesters or an entire year. 
  • Hours per week
    • Generally students work 20-40 hours a week during the summer months. During the fall and spring semesters, they work 10-20 hours per week.
  • Supervision
    • Who will mentor the intern?
      • Be sure to find a supervisor who enjoys teaching others about his or her career. This person should also be someone who has the time and commitment to meet regularly with the student to discuss professional growth.
  • Qualities you want in your intern
    • What kind of person are you looking for? What characteristics does your ideal intern possess?
  • Location and supplies
    • Make sure your intern has a place to work and has access to any supplies he or she may need. Things to consider: desks, chairs, computers, phones, office supplies.
    • Also be sure to tell your intern about any policies and procedures you may have in your office, e. g., what to do if your intern needs to take a sick day.
  • International interns
    • During the academic year, international interns (those on educational visas) can only work up to 20 hours per week. During summer and winter terms, they can work up to 40 hours per week.
    • All students on student visas must be enrolled in an academic course component in order to participate in an internship (internship course/seminar).
    • Students will need to obtain authorization from IU faculty/administration/staff prior to beginning their internship experience

What to do during the internship

  • Provide feedback
    • Especially if the student is receiving credit for the internship, evaluations will need to be completed at the midterm and end of the semester.
    • The supervisor may also expect to need to have regular weekly or biweekly meetings with the student about his or her development in the workplace.