An internship is defined as a short-term, usually semester-long opportunity for a student to gain valuable hands-on experience in their field of study/interest. An internship has many invaluable benefits for students, while also enriching academic programs and satisfying the needs of area employers. Students are able to identify career fields that fit, as well as those that don’t. They also gain valuable employability skills such as teamwork, problem-solving, and effective communication within the context of the workplace.

In addition, students are meeting and networking with professionals in their potential field, which significantly improves their chances of securing permanent employment upon graduation. Finding employment is essential for most, if not all, students - whether they plan to go on to graduate/professional school immediately after graduation or begin their careers. Without any tangible, career-related experience, their employability is drastically reduced. To stay competitive in today’s job market, internships are no longer an option - they are a necessity.

Basic Criteria

For a position to be considered an internship, the following criteria should be met (NACE, 2011):

  • The experience must be an extension of the classroom - a learning experience that provides for applying the knowledge gained in the classroom. It must not be simply to advance the operations of the employer or the work that a regular employee would routinely perform.
  • The experience has a defined beginning and end (typically one semester in length or 15 weeks) and a job description with desired qualifications.
  • There are clearly defined learning objectives/goals related to the professional goals of the student’s academic coursework.
  • There is supervision by a professional, preferably with expertise and educational and/or professional background in the field of study.
  • There is routine feedback provided by the supervisor and a formal evaluation conducted at the end of the experience.
  • There are resources, equipment, and facilities provided by the employer that support learning objectives/goals.
  • The experience does not take place in a private home.

Questions? Contact [email protected] or (616) 331-3311 – we look forward to working with you! 

For-Credit Internships with Health Organizations

Students, faculty or volunteers (associates) at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) may participate in clinical and non-clinical training activities at affiliated health facilities.  In order to be protective of everyone involved, your health and the health and safety of the community in which you may serve; certain participation guidelines have been established.

Infectious, communicable diseases are common in many clinical training sites and may be a threat to our associates.  During the performance of clinical training, fieldwork, research or internship activities, our associates may interact and be exposed to clients and research participants with diseases such as but not limited to tuberculosis (TB), hepatitis B (HBV), influenza, and other infections.

University policy, state, and federal statutory regulations, accreditation standards for affiliated agencies require that our associates comply with certain health, safety and legal requirements applicable to their occupation and that those individuals demonstrate particular cognitive and clinical competencies consistent with their program’s minimum practice standards.  As such, GVSU is contractually mandated to ensure all associates attain and maintain full compliance with each program’s compliance requirements.

To ensure proper health compliance, it is important to send the student's name, email, internship site, and brief internship description to Tina Barnikow, Senior Director for Health in the Office of the Vice Provost for Health, who will follow-up with the students regarding any necessary paperwork.  

Give Today

Internships are instrumental in helping students achieve their post graduation goals. Help support those who are completing an unpaid experience through this scholarship!

This fund helps to offset the costs for students in unpaid internships.

Page last modified February 1, 2024