An internship is experiential learning that integrates classroom knowledge and theories with practical application and skill development in a professional setting.
Students have a chance to develop their competencies as professionals in their areas of study, while still being identified as learners, rather than solely as employees.
During an internship:
- Students can earn academic credit and are evaluated according to a job description that is incorporated into a course.
- The arrangement is overseen by a faculty member of the student's educational institution and by a designated employee of the host organization.
- Work may be part-time, full-time, paid or unpaid, and typically lasts one semester.
- Academic learning objectives distinguish internships from volunteer positions or jobs.
- Some form of reflection is required in which students apply theories and concepts to their on-the-job experience to improve their performances as professionals.
Even though it's similar to a job listing, internship listings should have attributes that help establish a focus on intern learning and ensure there are shared expectations between the employer and the intern.
- Internship title.
- Information about your organization.
- Get readers excited to intern there!
- Why does your organization matter?
- What makes it special?
- Description of the role.
- What projects will they work on?
- What teams will they be a part of?
- What tasks will they be handling?
- Brief overview of internship's purpose.
- What will the intern gain from taking part in the internship?
- What skills will they learn while interning?
- Compensation or benefits.
- Location of internship.
- Time commitment.
- What are the start and end dates of the internship?
- How many days per week and hours per day?
- Requirements to perform the internship.
- What skills, characteristics or experience would make a successful intern?
- Are they requirements or just preferred?
- Credits. Are you are willing to work with university faculty if students want to earn credit?
- Application procedure.
- To whom and how does the student apply?
- What materials do you require — resume, cover letter, portfolio?
The Career Center highly suggests employers to pay their interns, regardless if the intern is earning academic credit. Some university programs require that internships be paid. Some do not.
Paid internships tend to encourage a larger pool of qualified applicants. Pay rate is negotiated between the employer and the intern and is typically between minimum wage and $25 per hour. Pay requirements and rates may be impacted by the career area of the internship and/or internship requirements determined by the academic department.
Stipends are an option though you should check with your human resources department to explore any legal issues regarding alternative payment.
In 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division updated Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). It states that:
"The FLSA requires “for-profit” employers to pay employees for their work. Interns and students, however, may not be “employees” under the FLSA—in which case the FLSA does not require compensation for their work."
Unpaid student employment will not violate the U.S. Department of Labor's Fair Labor Standards Act if it is a training program that meets these criteria:
- The training should be similar to that given in a vocational setting.
- The experience is for the benefit of the student.
- Students do not displace regular employees.
- The site sponsor provides the training and receives no immediate advantage from the activities of students.
- Students are not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period.
- The site sponsor and student understand that the student is not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER - The information presented here should not be considered legal advice. Employers are encouraged to check with their in-house legal team regarding these matters.
Even though working remote isn't crucial at the moment, there still may be a need to have the capability for remote internships. Below are some resources and tips on how to set up a successful remote internship experience.
Create a work plan:
- Have specific goals and projects.
- Define the scope of the work the intern will be completing.
- Set expectations for the intern's weekly project deliverables.
- Designate a daily schedule that include check-in times.
- Clarify the best mode of communication for questions. Call, text, email, etc.
Home office set-up:
- What does the intern need to do the internship?
- Computer, software, hardware, phone, etc.
- Do they need access to shared file space or physical documents?
- What other supplies do they need to complete their job?
Tips for the remote intern:
- Dress for work! As comfy as it is to stay in your pajamas all day, you'll be more productive when you dress for the part.
- Define your workspace and keep it set up as your office.
- Eliminate distractions and keep roommates, pets, etc. out of your space.
- Stay or get connected with others in the organization.
- Set a daily schedule and goals and stick to it.
- Inform St. Cloud State University's Student Accessibility Services that you are going into the field for field experience/internship.
- Inform department/field coordinator if accommodations are needed due to a disability.
- Make sure personal support system is in place for internship if accommodations are needed.
- When start in placement, discuss accommodation needs with onsite supervisor and others as appropriate.
- Medical needs: For safety of the student, inform placement site so they are aware and prepared.
- Advisors and course instructors: Refer students to Student Accessibility Services for consultation.
- Be up-front about competency expectations in the field.
- Discuss with students how they will accomplish these competencies.
Student Accessibility Services
- Ask students to inform department/course/field coordinator about accommodations needed.
- Assist in self advocacy/disclosure.
- Create form for students: Define field component and state what accommodations are needed.
- Send above information to:
- Course Instructor/faculty supervisor and/or
- Field/Course Coordinator
- Current form sent to Instructor/faculty supervisor: Add to “additional information” section: ‘Accommodations needed in field: …, etc.’
Field/Course Coordinator or Employer
- Inform Student Accessibility Services that student is requesting accommodations.
- Inform placement site of requested accommodations (after receiving written permission from student).
- Inform faculty supervisor as the faculty of record.
- Keep Student Accessibility Services up to date on all field/internship course numbers.
Modeled after document developed in collaboration with Student Accessibility Services staff, COE Office of Clinical Experiences staff (OCE) & OCE Liaisons from TDEV, SPED, CFS; Presented to COE DAC and to Departments of Teacher Development, Child & Family Studies and Special Education for discussion, Judith Siminoe, Special Advisor to the President (approved Spring 2009).
We use the Memorandum of Agreement between St. Cloud State and the internship site to ensure the student and the employer benefit from the internship experience. This may be required before a student is approved to complete an internship for credit with the employer.
See appropriate contact for more information.