What Qualifies as an Internship?
An Internship is:
- Relatively short term – may be anywhere between a few weeks to a semester.
- Paid or unpaid? – Internships are often unpaid due to the limited time-frame involved, the reduced expectations due to the increased learning opportunities, and the nature and type of business. Experience gained from an internship can outweigh the lack of pay. An internship is a career investment.
- Variable in schedule – interns are enrolled students, so the schedule varies based on the intern’s availability.
- Frequently project-based – internships often focus on a specific project and may involve a class assignment (paper, presentation, completion of a class project).
- Career-specific and related to the student’s program of study and/or career interests.
- Adjustable in expectations – compared to a “regular employee,” expectations for an intern may be adjusted based on course-work the student has completed and the student’s learning objectives for the internship.
An Internship is Not:
- Provided at the expense of or in place of a regular or potential employee.
- Equivalent to a part-time job which is generally limited to specific tasks students perform and may not relate to their program of study or career goals.
- A “break” from class because students are expected to put their best effort into an internship in order to get as much as possible out of the experience.
- The “dumping ground” for tasks not wanted by others. Internships provide challenging experiences that enable students to apply what they’ve learned in their courses and add to that knowledge through experience.
Six Standards Must be Met to Establish that an Intern Qualifies to Work Unpaid
- The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar training which would be given in an educational environment;
- The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
- The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
- The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern, and on occasion, its operations may actually be impeded;
- The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
- The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.