An internship opportunity focuses on providing meaningful field experience that is structured around a specific major or field of study and directly complements classroom learning.
Benefits of an internship:
Some internships are paid or students are offered a stipend. Minimum wage is the legal requirement for hourly positions; however, a fixed weekly, monthly or quarterly stipend, not based on hours worked, is not considered wages and would not conflict with the Fair Labor Standard Act minimum wage requirements. Interns have the same rights as other employees.
Most internships are unpaid. The Department of Labor has six criteria to determine if a student is a learner/trainee (i.e. Intern) and therefore doesn't have to be paid. Not all six factors have to be present but the position should ultimately be more of a training experience than a job:
Students should begin preparing for their internship three to six months in advance. In order to have a successful internship search, make sure that you and your job search tools are ready to go – your cover letter and resume are updated, interviewing skills are polished. These elements are essential to a successful search. The more prepared you are for the internship search process, the more confident you will appear to potential supervisors or employers.
Spend time reflecting on your goals for obtaining an internship. Consider these questions:
* Requirements vary by internship
A Sampling of Companies with Internship Programs:
Montana State University:
University of Arizona:
University of Maryland:
If you have identified a specific company or organization where you would like to intern, but they do not have an formal internship program, or internship positions listed on their site, contact them and possibly make your own internship. Here are some suggestions:
Some companies with formal internship programs may have applications and other forms to complete, while others may just ask for a submission of a resume. For any questions about internship applications, please contact the Career Center.
Most internships require a formal interview with an employer.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does permit international students to be interns. Students need to request the necessary employment/internship authorization through the International Student Advisor before accepting any offer of employment or internship. Processing the authorization can take up to 120 days. The duties assigned to the student during an internship must relate to the student's course of study and must be completed within the course term. Students should contact the International Student program and attend a Practical Training Workshop prior to accepting an internship.
Since internships are designed to extend for a specific amount of time, the interns are hired for a certain purpose, and these is not expectation that the position will continue after the specified end date, interns would not qualify for unemployment benefits after leaving the organization. Developing a learning agreement with specific start and end dates, as well as expectations for the position, is the best way to safeguard your organization against unemployment claims by past interns (Inkster & Ross).
Interns fall under the same guidelines as regular employees when it comes to civil rights and nondiscrimination. Employers are not allowed to select interns based on race, ethnicity, age, gender, etc., nor can they discriminate against interns with disabilities. Interns with disabilities must be provided reasonable accommodations to perform their essential job functions as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Interns are also protected by harassment laws, just as regular employees are (Inkster & Ross).
There is a difference between these two agreements. According to NACE, non-compete agreements are signed documents where an employee agrees not to compete with the current employer after leaving the company. They may outline certain things that are prohibited such as working for a competitor or creating a competitive business, the geographic location in which the employee may not work, and how long the non-compete agreement will last. Non-disclosure agreements prohibit the employee from using proprietary information learned in the current organization, at a job with a new employer. Proprietary information can include such things as product information, customer information, business plans, new technology, or any information that's not available to the public. This type of agreement does not restrict where an employee can work after leaving the current employer, but is can limit the information the employee can use at the new organization.
Both of these agreements are used occasionally by employers when hiring interns, but non-compete agreements many not be as enforceable as non-disclosure agreements. The reason is interns don't usually enter the job market right when the internship ends, they may not have gained the expert knowledge that regular employees have, they aren't employed long enough, and aren't involved in a high enough level of decision-making.
The California Labor Code, Section 3351, states that “Employees” means every person in the service of an employer under any appointment or contact of hire or apprenticeship, express or implied, oral or written, whether lawfully or unlawfully employed. According to this, interns to fall under the classification of “employee” and should by law be covered under worker's compensation. The only time an intern is not required to be covered under worker's compensation, according to section 3352.i. of the California Labor Code, is if the intern is a “personal performing voluntary service for a public agency or a private, non-profit organization who receives no remuneration for the services other than meals, transportation, lodging, or reimbursement for incidental expenses.” If an organization falls into the public agency or private, non-profit category and is hiring interns that are unpaid, then coverage is not necessary, though it is recommended as to limit liability for job injuries to medical expenses and lost wages only. If an intern hurts someone else while working, the organization may be held liable.
San Diego Mesa College Career Center | Room I4-306 | 619-388-2777 | MesaCareer@sdccd.edu