What is an Internship
The National Association of Colleges & Employers defines an internship as “a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Internships give students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths; and give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent.”
Benefits for Employers
Here are a few quick reasons why a business or organization should consider developing an offering an internship position:
- An internship is an inexpensive way to evaluate and recruit future employees. Learning about the aptitude, work ethic and growth potential of prospective employees while they are working for an organization can significantly reduce the time and money spent on finding new talent.
- Interns bring current technology and ideas from the classroom to the workplace and therefore increase an organization’s intellectual capital.
- An internship program can supply an easily accessible source of highly motivated pre-professionals.
- Interns provide an opportunity for mid-level staff to manage direct reports.
What to Consider
The following criteria should be considered when planning to create an internship position:
- Internships can occur during the fall, spring or summer and range from a couple of months to over six months in duration. The average internship lasts about a semester (four months).
- While some internships are full-time, most range from 10 – 30 hours per week.
- Internships can be paid (preferably) or unpaid (typically non-profit settings), for credit or not for credit or any combination of these. (Note: The issue of pay is dictated by the Fair Labor Standards Act. To provide guidance regarding whether interns should be paid the minimum wage.)
- Details about the number of hours worked, length of internship, rate of pay and other specifics are typically negotiated between employers and potential interns. Internships for credit may include input from a faculty advisor.
- Is different from a short-term job or volunteer work and has an intentional “learning agenda” in a structured work environment.
- Promotes academic, career and/or personal development.
- Learning objectives are integral to the internship, distinguishing them from volunteer positions.
- Has an existing employee working in the department/position to mentor and supervise the intern.
The Keys to Success
Internship Toolkit: A handy downloadable guide to establishing a successful internship.