An internship is a form of experiential education that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. (Definition from the National Association of Colleges and Employers-NACE)● This is probably the most popular form of experiential education opportunity. Internships can be part-time (typically during the fall and spring semester) or full-time (usually during the summer), depending upon the employer. NACE has established a 7 point criteria for employers to determine if an opportunity qualifies as an internship. All of the following criteria must be met to be considered a legitimate internship:
1. 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 be the work that a regular employee would routinely perform.
2. The skills or knowledge learned must be transferable to other employment settings.
3. The experience has a defined beginning and end, and a job description with desired qualifications.
4. There are clearly defined learning objectives/goals related to the professional goals of the student’s academic coursework.
5. There is supervision by a professional with expertise and educational and/or professional background in the field of the experience
6. There is routine feedback by the experienced supervisor.
7. There are resources, equipment, and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning objectives/goals. In regards to compensation, internships may be paid or unpaid. However, employers must adhere to the Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).