Here, we answer frequently asked questions around recruiting interns and the benefits of creating an internship program at your organization. If you cannot find the answer to your questions email email@example.com.
Q: What’s the difference between an internship and a job?
A: The term “internship” is loosely defined in today’s work world. The National Society for Experiential Education defines an internship as “a carefully monitored work or volunteer experience in which an individual had intentional learning goals and reflects actively on what he or she is learning throughout the experience.”
At the Career Service Center, we view internships as learning opportunities, whether paid or unpaid, which are designed to fulfill the dual purpose of reality-testing and skill building. Reality-testing is the process of clarifying a student’s choice of career direction. Skill-building is the chance to gain valuable experience in a specific career field or work environment. If learning is the emphasis, it is an internship.
Q: How are interns compensated?
A: Compensation comes in many forms. In some cases, interns are paid at or near the prevailing wage for an entry-level professional. Compensation at this rate helps attract students and ensures the internship site can pick the “cream of the crop. ” It also helps students to focus on the internship because they do not have to work a second job and possibly attend school at the same time.
In other cases, interns are paid a “training wage” that is at or above minimum wage. Some employers offer a stipend, a set amount of money that is awarded without regard to the number of hours completed in an internship. Before offering a stipend, however, employers should check with state regulations concerning stipends to ensure that all appropriate regulations are being followed.
Nonprofit groups often cannot afford to pay an intern, and so compensation in other forms should be considered. For example, an arts agency my provide the intern with free tickets and backstage passes to performances. A social service agency may pay the registration and other expenses to send an intern to a professional conference. Students who undertake a non-paid internship may need more flexibility in their hours or reduced hours so they can also work at a paid job.
For many students, the most important compensation is the opportunity to learn real skills and contribute to the mission of the internship site. However, internships without pay must have an identifiable learning component or the employer is at risk for violating the Fair Labor Practices Act. The U.S. Department of Labor has identified six criteria for identifying a learner/trainee who may be unpaid. (The DOL does not use the term internship). The criteria are:
- The training, even though it includes actual operation of the employer’s facilities, is similar to training that would be give in a vocational school.
- The training is for the benefit of the student.
- The student does not displace regular employees, but works under the close observation of regular employees.
- The employer provides the training and derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the student. Occasionally, the operations may actually be impeded by the training.
- The student is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period.
- The employer and the student understand that the student is not entitled to wages for the time spent training.
Q: Do UCCS students receive credit for their internships? If so, how?
A: UCCS students might receive credit for an internship, depending on which academic department and College at UCCS that the student attends. The Career Service Center does not oversee the earning of internship credit. If a student applies to your site and wants to receive credit, the student must work directly with his/her academic department to determine if and how to receive credit.