Hosting An Intern

What Qualifies as an Internship

An internship is a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Internships give students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths, and give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent. (National Association of Colleges and Employers)

Before hiring an intern, it is best to identify what specific type of work needs to be completed.  To be considered an internship, the position must:  

  • Be an extension of the classroom - a learning experience that applies the knowledge gained in the classroom.
  • Have a defined beginning and end, typically one semester or 15 weeks.
  • Have a complete job description with desired qualifications and duties and responsibilities.
  • Have clearly defined learning objectives/goals related to the professional goals of the student's coursework.
  • Be supervised by a professional, preferably with expertise and background in the field.
  • Offer routine feedback from the supervisor and a formal evaluation at the end of the experience.
  • Provide resources, equipment, and facilities that support learning objectives/goals.
  • Not take place in a private home.

Considerations for Hosting an Intern

As you think about hosting an intern, it is important to make sure your organization is ready. Please find a list below of areas to consider.  


  • We have the time to support an intern.
  • We have the human resources to support an intern
  • We have the physical resources to support an intern including a safe work space, access to technology, internet access, parking and business cards. 
  • We have the financial resources to support an intern (hourly pay, stipend, scholarship, tuition payment, professional development opportunities). 

Projects & Work

  • We have quality work assignments for the intern.
  • The intern will be able to apply the knowledge they have learned in the classroom to the workplace. 
  • The work assignments will be attainable yet challenging for the intern. 


  • We have someone to train, supervise and mentor an intern. 
  • We have created an orientation for new intern(s)
  • We have a supervisor available to answer questions
  • We have reviewed learning objectives with the intern(s)
  • We have an evaluation tool in place to use with intern(s)

Creating an Effective Job Description

Creating accurate job descriptions is essential to the recruitment process as it helps clarify who is responsible for what within your organization and helps the intern better understand the responsibilities of the position. An effective job description also helps you establish a better applicant pool, which will help you identify the best candidate for the position.  The following elements should be included in an internship job description.  

  1. Organization Name/Department:  Include the name of the organization, department as well as location. 
  2. Description of Organization:  This is helpful for students who are researching organizations and to learn more about your industry. 
  3. Job Title:  It's best to have the title relate to the type of work being performed (Digital Marketing Intern is a strong title than Intern).
  4. Responsibilities and Accountabilities:  Describe the principle duties, continuing responsibilities, and the impact this position will have on the organization.
  5. Required/Preferred Qualifications:  Focus on specific skill sets rather than majors or academic programs.  
  6. Compensation:  Compensation, if offered, can include hourly pay, stipends, professional development memberships, or free parking.  
  7. Reports To: Include the title of the intern's supervisor, where the supervisor is located, and describe the management structure.
  8. How To Apply:  Give clear instructions on how applicants should apply and include any deadlines. Students can apply directly through Handshake or directly to your organization.  

Internships & Academic Credit

A student may or may not receive academic credit for the internship.  If a student wants academic credit for the internship, it is up to the student to establish this through their academic department.  There is little difference between students who receive credit and students who do not.  There may be an agreement form and evaluation required for the credit-seeking student on the employer end.  

  • Academic entrance requirements - To ensure adequate academic preparation, students are typically required to complete 60 academic credits before signing up for internships or co-op experiences. Academic prerequisites vary by program.
  • Non-credit experiences - There are no requirements or restrictions for taking an internship for no credit. Students can have as many non-credit internships as they wish at as many locations as they like. There are no grades or faculty associated with this type of internship.
  • For-credit experiences - If a student wants to take an internship for credit, the responsibility lies with the student to pursue credit by approval of their academic unit. Students must register and pay for credits just like any other course. Not all programs require for-credit experiences. Search faculty internship coordinators by the department.
  • Work hours - While there is no hard-and-fast rule, generally students pursuing a for-credit experience will seek three credits. This roughly equates to 150 hours per semester (or a minimum of 10 hours/week for a 15-week term). Students may not receive more than 9 total credits for internship/co-op experiences.

Page last modified August 4, 2021