Tools & Tips

Internship Programs – A Guide

How can organizations meet the needs of today and prepare the workforce of the future? One solution is to develop a high quality internship program. This booklet will assist you in doing just that.

What Is An Internship?

“An academic internship is a form of experiential education that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skill development in a professional setting. Students earn academic credit, or there is some other connection to a degree‐granting, educational institution. This work/learning arrangement is overseen by a faculty or staff member of an educational institution and by a designated employee of an organization. The internship is usually the length or equivalent of an academic term, may be part‐time or full‐time, paid or unpaid. An integral component of the experience that distinguishes it from other types of work is one or more forms of structured and deliberate reflection contained within learning agendas or objectives.”

Characteristics include:

  • Duration of anywhere from three months to two years, but a typical experience usually lasts from three to six months.
  • Generally a one‐time experience.
  • May be part‐time or full‐time.
    May be paid or non‐paid.
  • Internships may be part of an educational program, providing careful monitoring and evaluation for academic credit.
  • An important element that distinguishes an internship from a short‐term job or volunteer work is that an intentional “learning agenda” is structured into the experience.
  • Learning activities common to most internships include learning objectives, observation, reflection, evaluation and assessment.
  • An effort is made to establish a reasonable balance between the intern’s learning goals and the specific work an organization needs done.
  • Internships promote academic, career and/or personal development.

How Do Internships Benefit Employers?

  • Year round source of highly motivated pre‐professionals
  • Students bring new perspectives to old problems
  • Visibility of your organization is increased on campus
  • Quality candidates for temporary or seasonal positions and projects
  • Freedom for professional staff to pursue more creative projects
  • Flexible, cost‐effective work force not requiring a long‐term employer commitment Proven, cost‐effective way to recruit and evaluate potential employees
  • Your image in the community is enhanced as you contribute your expertise to the educational enterprise

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Starting and maintaining a quality internship program


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