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Internship Guide for Employers

What are the benefits of offering an internship?

Internships are an excellent way for your company to find and train the brightest young minds entering your fields. These students have an opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience with your company while you have an opportunity to work with and train potential employees before they leave school.

What is Cooperative Education?

Cooperative Education positions are paid positions that require students to work either full-time and return to school the following semester, or part-time while attending classes. Some organizations provide summer Co-ops. Many organizations recruit juniors or seniors for Co-ops. Students participating in these programs are sometimes offered full-time jobs before or immediately after graduation.

How Many Hours do Students Work?

  • During the academic year, when students are attending classes they usually work 10-20 hours each week.
  • During the summer, or if students are committed to a full-time Co-op position, they usually work full-time.

NACE Internship Guidelines

Seven Criteria for Internships

  • 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.
  • The skills or knowledge learned must be transferable to other employment settings.
  • The experience has a defined beginning and end, 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 with expertise and educational and/or professional background in the field of the experience.
  • There is routine feedback by the experienced supervisor.
  • There are resources, equipment, and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning objectives/goals.

Hiring an Intern?

If you are a for-profit employer interested in employing an intern, you are required to comply with the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which governs minimum wage requirements in for-profit organizations. The U.S. Department of Labor has developed six criteria for identifying a learner/trainee who may be unpaid. These criteria are as follows: (1) The training, even though it includes actual operation of the employer’s facilities, is similar to training that would be given in a vocational school. (2) The training is for the benefit of the student. (3) The student does not displace regular employees, but works under the close observation of a regular employee. (4) The employer provides the training and derives no immediate benefits from the activities of the student. Occasionally, the operations may actually be impeded by the training. (5) The student is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period. (6) The employer and the student understand that the student is not entitled to wages for the time spent training. All six requirements must be satisfied in order for an intern to be deemed a non-employee trainee (exempt from FLSA minimum wage requirements).

IMPORTANT NOTE: Fact Sheet #71, issued by the U.S. Department of Labor in 2010, specifically states: if the interns are engaged in the operations of the employer or are performing productive work (for example, filing, other clerical work, or assisting customers), then the fact that they may be receiving some benefits in the form of a new skill or improved work habits will NOT exclude them from the FLSA's minimum wage and overtime requirements because the employer benefits from the interns' work.

If you are a non-profit employer or government agency, consider providing compensation to:

  • Attract skilled interns.
  • Increase intern commitment and reward for contributions.
  • Reduce financial burdens that may require a student to work a second job during their internship.
  • Offset the cost of paying for tuition when a student chooses (or is required) to earn credit for an internship.

Additional ways to compensate interns:

  • Offer a stipend.
  • Provide networking opportunities (through professional association memberships, sponsoring attendance at networking events, participation in workplace or vendor-provided training).
  • Cover out-of-pocket transportation, tuition for internship credit, or housing costs.

To recruit interns from The University of Texas-Pan American, please contact our office at (956) 665-2243.