Definition of an Internship
An internship is a pre-professional learning experience that offers meaningful, practical work experience related to a student’s field of study or career interest. Internships allow students to apply principles and theory learned in the classroom in a professional environment. Through an internship, students are provided an opportunity for career exploration and development as well as a chance to learn new skills.
Opportunities NOT Considered an Internship
- Positions consisting primarily of clerical tasks. Clerical tasks should comprise no more than 20% of an internship.
- Jobs that provide little or no opportunity for students to gain practical experience that complement their academic learning.
- Part-time jobs with little or no training, guidance, and supervision.
- Volunteer positions.
Internship Benefits for Employers
- A cost effective opportunity to evaluate a potential future employee, a pipeline for candidates.
- Access to students with special skills and/or knowledge.
- A way to gain short term talent to assist current employees.
- Enthusiastic, innovative workers who can contribute new ideas based on their academic learning.
- The personal satisfaction of fulfilling a professional responsibility in helping students progress in their career path.
- Enhanced visibility for your organization on our campus.
Internship Benefits for Students
- Provides a full and realistic view of the world-of-work.
- Integrates academic preparation with practical application and skill development in the workplace.
- Acquire hands-on work experience.
- An opportunity to network with professionals in one’s field of interest.
- A chance to explore career options and develop transferable skills.
Tips for a Successful Internship
- Offer challenging assignments that benefit your organization while providing tangible work experience for the intern.
- Create a clearly defined position description to include: information on your organization, description of the internship project or job duties, job title, preferred academic major, competencies the intern should possess, educational value of the internship, desired work hours, duration of the internship, application procedures, start and end dates of the internship,compensation.
- Assign interns to a worthy project where they can apply their academic knowledge as well as enhance and/or develop new skills.
- Provide training to orient interns to the organization, a tour of the organization, introduction to staff members and use of equipment.
- Provide a specific work area for the intern and office resources such as a computer, telephone extension and organization email.
- Expose interns to other professional staff, clientele, etc. (as appropriate) for professional growth.
- Provide supervision and mentoring to maximize the intern’s learning experience by offering guidance and identifying developmental opportunities that strengthen and enhance the intern’s skills, strengths and performance.
- Evaluate the internship. At the conclusion of the internship, conduct an exit interview to review the intern’s performance and accomplishments.
- Consult with your organization’s attorney or legal team to ensure that you know your liability.
Identifying Candidates for an Internship
- In sourcing candidates you should consider the duties to be performed, level of knowledge and specific job skills required of the intern, desired class level, and the suitable academic majors need to be successful to perform the internship.
- For undergraduate internships, students at all class levels (freshman through seniors) are eligible to participate in an internship.
- Graduate students possess a higher level of skills that may be beneficial for more advanced projects.
- Employers that don’t restrict their internships to specific class levels or majors will benefit from a broader pool of intern applicants.
Part-time or Full-time Internships
- An internship program should be flexible.
- The duration of the internship should be determined by the needs of your organization.
- The University of Washington operates on a quarterly system (fall, winter, spring and summer). Each quarter is 10 weeks, with the exception of summer.
- During the academic year, internships are generally part-time, approximately 10-12 hours per week, not to exceed 20 hours per week.
- For internships offered during the summer, students can work up to 40 hours per week.
Credit for an Internship
- As an employer you cannot grant credit for an internship, only the University can do this.
- Academic credit may not be available depending on the student’s major.
- Students must consult with their academic department prior to the start of an internship if they wish to earn credit for an internship. The requirements may differ by department but generally, earning credit for an internship involves a partnership between the student, the site supervisor and a faculty sponsor.
- The number of credits awarded for an internship can vary and are typically determined by the scope of the internship, the project submitted to the faculty sponsor, and the number of hours worked.
- Your specific role is to assist the student by providing any information requested by the academic department so that a determination can be made about what kind of academic credit might apply.
- Although an internship can be paid or unpaid, The Career Center encourages employers to compensate interns.
- An internship should not be viewed as a form of “cheap labor.”
- Academic credit is not a substitute for compensation.
- If an intern is considered an “employee” (any individual employed by an employer), according to the Fair Labor Standards Act, then the employer must pay its interns at least minimum wage.
- In determining an intern’s compensation, you should take into consideration your industry type, location of the internship, desired competencies, the intern’s class level, and preferred academic major.
- If you are a for-profit organization and considering offering an unpaid internship, you are responsible for understanding the legal criteria for an unpaid internship as specified by the U.S Department of Labor.
- The Career Center does not require for you to complete any forms to recruit interns.
- If a student is seeking credit for an internship, you are responsible for completing all required documentation.
- It is the responsibility of the intern to provide you with any required forms.
How to Recruit Interns
Internship Development Assistance
Please contact our Employer Relations Manager.