Internships provide students with a learning environment where they can:
- Apply their academic learning to professional settings
- Gather feedback
- Create a network of connections
- Explore learning and career goals
Internships also encourage students to engage in the search and application process, explore post-graduate options, navigate organizational culture, and utilize concepts from the classroom to develop “real world” solutions.
For faculty who are sponsoring students for an independent internship, interested in developing this within their department, or evaluating internship program options for their students, this page will serve as a space for informed research on the impact of internships, position statements and connections to experiential learning bodies, and best practices from within and beyond our campus community.
Steps to Ensure a Successful Internship
Create a learning agreement between the student, sponsoring faculty and employer supervisor. This should include learning outcomes, activities and tasks the student will complete to achieve these outcomes, clarity on scheduling and on-site hour requirements, academic assignments, and professionalism standards.
Build academic requirements to encourage deeper reflection on the experience and explore connections to current or previous coursework. This may be done through analytical journal prompts, response papers, portfolio development, or additional research activities.
Encourage open communication between all partners. This is critical to assisting the student in making connections between academic and professional learning, and also provides the opportunity to learn about problems if they should arise.
Because internships are a learning activity, students will be imperfect and occasionally encounter difficulties. Ideally, they can bring these concerns up to both the sponsoring faculty member AND the site supervisor to discuss.
If faculty intervention is needed, information can be gathered from both the student and the supervisor, and a meeting might be necessary to work through the issues presented.
Legal, nondisclosure, labor and other questions. The Gwen M. Greene Career and Internship Center routinely works with students, employers and faculty to discuss issues around labor laws, the rights of interns (paid or unpaid), navigating sensitive workplace topics and nondisclosure arrangements.
If these arise during the course of an internship, all are encouraged to reach out to discuss the matter.
- Association of American Colleges and Universities: Internships as High-Impact practice: Some reflections on quality
- Intern Bridge: National research and webinars on internship best practices
Guidance from Professional Organizations
- National Association for Colleges and Employers (NACE): Internship Definition and Guiding Principles
- Department of Labor guidelines for Internship Programs under the Fair Labor Standards Act: Statement on Unpaid Internships