Internship guidelines for employers

Resources for hosting a successful internship

Internships are an excellent opportunity to connect with and evaluate potential future employees and for students to gain hands-on professional experience. Check out the resources below to help you create a successful internship program.

Internships 101: the basics

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.

Review our What is an internship? page for more information.

Part-time or full-time internships

  • As much as possible, an internship should be flexible to accommodate a student’s class schedule.
  • 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 students in class full-time.
  • 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 differ by department but generally, earning credit for an internship involves a partnership between the student, the site supervisor and a faculty sponsor.
  • It is the student’s responsibility to provide you with any required forms.
  • 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.

Internship compensation

  • Although an internship can be paid or unpaid, Career Services 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.

Review our Compensation page for more information.


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