Below are some FAQs regarding structure and expectations of an internship from the employer perspective.
What is an internship?
An academic internship is a form of experiential education that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skill development in a professional setting. An integral component of the experience that distinguishes it from other types of work is one or more forms of structured and deliberate reflection contained within learning agendas or objectives. Professional organizations are expected to provide student interns training, supervision by someone in the intern’s field, and evaluation. Internships are meant to serve primarily as learning experiences for the student.
Students earn academic credit, or there is some other connection to a degree-granting, educational institution. This work/learning arrangement is overseen by a faculty or staff member of an educational institution and by a designated employee of an organization. The internship is usually the length or equivalent of an academic term, may be part-time or full-time, paid or unpaid.
What training do students have?
To be eligible to earn credit for an internship, students must have completed the first sequence of SOJC major coursework. Some major sequences (ex. Public Relations) also require that the student complete certain coursework prior to earning internship credit (ex. J 350: Principles of Public Relations). The student will need to confer with their faculty advisers to discuss their eligibility. Some employers also use courses like Reporting I as a requirement for their internship candidates.
When should an internship opportunity be advertised?
Ideally, posting an internship two months before the term gives you enough time to interview and select an ideal candidate. Students actively look for internships throughout the school year. The quarters run:
Fall Term: late September – mid December
Winter Term: early January – mid March
Spring Term: early April – mid June
Summer Term: mid June – late September
Planning ahead allows students to secure credit before the term begins. To receive credit, a student needs to talk to his/her faculty adviser. The faculty offer credit for experiences that prepare students to enter their chosen field.
What kind of time commitment is reasonable to expect?
Internships at the UO follow the quarter calendar which is ten weeks long. Some employers request students to commit to two terms. In the first term, students are similar to new employees, learning the job and the company culture. Students who are further along in their coursework or have had other internships may require less training.
Typical time commitment for an internship would be 8-10 hours a week during the school year or up to 40 hours a week during the summer. The number of hours can depend on the size of the project to be completed. If a student receives credit, the number of credits earned usually depends on the number of hours the intern works. If a student works three hours a week for ten weeks, s/he would receive one credit. Nine hours a week would give a student three credits.
How should student interns be compensated?
A student can receive up to nine internship credits from the School of Journalism and Communication. If you have applicants from other departments, there are other opportunities for them to secure credit on campus.
Students can earn both credit and compensation for an internship. Some employers offer an hourly wage, stipend, tuition or travel assistance. Many students need to make money to pay bills, especially in the summer. Any extra income frees up time students are devoting to part-time jobs. Offering a wage also increases the quality of an applicant pool.
If your organization is a for-profit business, we strongly encourage you to offer compensation. Many students work their way through college and often give up a paying part-time position to take an internship, so receiving some form of remuneration is appreciated. If your organization (for-profit or non-profit) is unable to offer a regular wage, consider helping the student with a stipend or internship-related expenses such as parking fees, mileage, meals, etc.
For more information about paying interns, please read the US Department of Labor Wage & Hour Division’s “Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act”
How should an internship be structured?
You want to design the position with the success of the internship in mind. Decide who in your organization will mentor the intern, as professional supervision is a required aspect of internships. This supervisor will be the one to give the intern feedback throughout the internship. This supervisor needs to be a professional in the area that the intern in working in. It is recommended that the supervisor and student create a contract before the internship begins, including: hours, specific goals, training or shadowing opportunities, and timelines. Establishing both the student’s and employer’s expectations at the beginning is important. The more communication that happens up front, the better the experience will be for all.
Contact Julia Morrill.