Internships at the University of New Hampshire are housed within different areas of the University including colleges, departments and programs.
UNH Career and Professional Success provides a strong foundation of resources for employers to define and develop internships.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) uses the following definition:
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.
Criteria for an experience to be defined as an Internship:
To ensure that the experience is eligible to be considered a legitimate internship by the NACE definition, all the following criteria must be met:
- 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
- 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 from the experienced supervisor.
- There are resources, equipment, and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning objectives/goals.
Interns are encouraged to bring "learning objectives/goals" that support their academic and career interests to the internship supervisor to help ensure a beneficial experience.
As with any successful endeavor, developing an internship requires thought and planning. We believe internships are beneficial to both employers and students. Internships are designed by employers to meet their own organizational needs while at the same time providing for the needs of the intern.
For students, an internship provides:
- An opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to a real work experience
- An opportunity to explore different aspects of the “working” world and to investigate avenues of career interest
- Assistance with the development of specific skills and knowledge related to a career
- The ability to network and develop professional contacts in their area of interest
- A learning experience directly from experienced professionals
For employers, an internship provides:
- Enthusiastic, innovative, and dedicated workers who bring with them a fresh perspective and new ideas
- Assistance with special projects or during peak periods when additional staff are needed
- Access to students with special skills and/or knowledge
- A cost-effective means of evaluating performance and potential of employees prior to making them a permanent position offer
- An opportunity for current employees to develop their supervisory skills
- The personal satisfaction of helping students progress in their personal and career development
Employer's Responsibilities Before the Internship
1. Offer a true career-related experience that enhances academic and/or interest development
One of the biggest mistakes an employer makes is to develop an internship opportunity that is extremely clerical in nature. Keep in mind that students expect to be challenged and learn new skills at their internship site and therefore become very disheartened when they find out that the position is not as advertised. You will want to make sure you have distinct objectives, goals, and/or specific projects for an intern.
2. Provide a position description that accurately describes the internship.
By having a position description available, it gives you and the student the ability to clearly define the job duties that will be performed during this time-limited employment period.
3. Determine the length of the internship
Once you have identified what the intern will do, you should then determine how much time you think it will take to accomplish the goals. We encourage employers and students to participate in internship experiences that are at least 3-4 months in length. Almost all of our internships are set up on a part-time basis (10-20 hours per week) during the academic year, allowing students to gain experience while maintaining a partial or full load of credits. Many students intern full-time during the summer months when they have the greatest amount of free time. It is best to post new internships no later than three months before the anticipated internship start date to provide enough time to identify qualified interns. Our academic calendar runs from late August to early December and late January to early May.
4. Appoint someone to act as a mentor/supervisor during the experience
It is very important that an intern has one designated site-mentor/supervisor. This individual will need to provide orientation, training, supervision, evaluation/feedback and opportunities for reflection for the student. The mentor/supervisor should be the one responsible for educating the intern on the general philosophy and procedures of operation for the organization as a whole. This relationship also helps the company to thoroughly assess the student’s work habits, ethics and productivity.
When choosing a site supervisor it is important to choose someone who:
- Is interested in working with college students
- Has the time to invest in the internship, especially during the first few weeks
- Has leadership ability, effective communication skills and patience
Ongoing supervision of the student intern is critical to the success of the internship. An effective method of intern supervision is to have a set time -- weekly is recommended -- to meet with the intern to review progress on projects, check in, and provide feedback.
5. Provide safe working facilities
Make available the equipment, supplies, and space necessary for the student to perform his/her duties safely. Ask yourself some of the following questions: Will the intern be here by themselves at any point during their working hours? Will the intern be leaving the facility when it is dark outside? If so, does the parking area have adequate lighting? Are all of our current employees educated on our sexual harassment/assault policies? Who is liable for work-related injuries sustained by the intern?
6. Determine how the intern will be compensated
Although not a requirement for participating in the internship experience, it is desirable to compensate interns in some manner. Employers benefit by attracting the best quality applicants and maintain a sense of accountability. It also helps students to focus on the internship because they do not have to work a second job. Compensation comes in many forms. In some cases, interns are paid at or above the prevailing minimum wage. Some employers offer a stipend, which is typically a lump sum of money that is awarded regardless of the number of hours completed in an internship. Before offering a stipend, however, employers should check with state regulations concerning stipends to ensure that all appropriate regulations are being followed.
Under Federal wage and labor laws, student interns do not need to be paid as long as six factors are met under the Learner/Trainee criteria:
- The training is similar to that which would be given in a vocational school.
- The training is for the benefit of the students.
- The students do not displace regular employees.
- The employer derives no immediate advantage from the activities of students*.
- The students are not entitled to a job at the end of the training period.
- The employer and the student understand that the student is not entitled to wages.
For many students, the most important compensation is the opportunity to learn real skills and contribute to the mission of the internship site. However, states have different regulations related to non-paid internships and compensation. If you have questions about the laws in your state, please check with the appropriate authorities. If you are an employer based in New Hampshire, visit this website for more information on NH Department of Labor regulations and employer compliance expectations for unpaid internships
- Employers receive qualified and motivated candidates
- If you offer a paid internship that is equivalent to or greater than the minimum wage, it is likely you will generate much more student interest – you also do not need to apply to the NHDOL
- Employers need to obtain approval from the New Hampshire Department of Labor (NHDOL) before posting
- Complete the following forms in School-to-Work section of NHDOL Forms.
- Pre-Screening Form
- Approval Form for Non-Paid Work-Based Activities
- Contact the NHDOL (603) 271-0127 with any questions
Internship for Academic Credit
- Even if you offer to work with our faculty to help evaluate a student who wants to earn academic credit, you still need to receive approval from the NHDOL
- UNH students also need to pay for any academic credit they earn, inside or outside the classroom, so if you require them to earn academic credit that they don’t need in order to graduate and complete their degree, they may be less interested in your opportunity
- You may need to sign off on the student's hours each week for them to present to his or her advisor
If you are offering a non-paid or sub-minimum wage internship, you need to receive approval through the New Hampshire Department of Labor (NH DOL) before your opportunity can be posted through UNH Career and Professional Success.
Academic Credit for an Internship
Even if you offer to work with our faculty to help evaluate a student who wants to earn academic credit, you still need to receive approval from the NH DOL.
UNH students also need to pay for any academic credit they earn, inside or outside the classroom, so if you require them to earn academic credit that they don’t need in order to graduate and complete their degree, they may be less interested in your opportunity.
NH DOL Forms and Approval Process
The RSA 279:22-aa requires that all unpaid, NH-based internships must be approved by the NH Department of Labor. This law is in employer’s best interest, setting a clear understanding that the unpaid work between intern and employer is tied to the student’s academic studies and no such student shall be allowed to replace an existing or a laid-off worker. It is the employer’s responsibility to fill out and have these documents on file with the NH Department of Labor.
There are two forms associated with approval from the NH Department of Labor:
1. – Form to be completed annually to ensure compliance with NH labor laws
a.The employer is to fill out and submit form directly to NH Department of Labor
b. For School Coordinator: Maggie Wells, 603-862-2070, firstname.lastname@example.org
2. – Form to be completed to ensure internship specifics and documentation are in connection to student(s) academic studies.
a.The employer is to fill out and submit form (along with pre-screening form) directly to NH Department of Labor
b.The employer will need to work with the student they plan to hire for connection to an academic course syllabus or program goals
c.An approval form only needs to be submitted once if approval is granted for an internship connected to a specific academic program
Please view frequently asked questions here. To submit forms or ask additional questions about the NH Department of Labor laws and approval processes, please connect with the inspectors at InspectionDiv@dol.nh.gov.
For the ‘Approval Form for Non-Paid Work-Based Activities’ you should enter the following information:
- School/Institution/Organization: Insert your company/organization name, address, and fax. Disregard Secondary, Post-secondary or Other
- Program Name: UNH Career and Professional Success - Internship Office
- Contact Person: Maggie Wells
- Title: Internship Coordinator
- Telephone: 603-641-4331
- Fax: 603-862-5400
- Type of Placement: Select only 'Internship'
For the question, ‘Is academic credit is given for this program’, select – N, unless the student intern is working with a faculty member to earn credit which is prearranged BEFORE the internship starts. The rest of the form should be filled out by you, the employer.
If you have any questions about this process, please email UNH Career and Professional Success Employer Relations.
Employer's Responsibilities During the Internship
Training is just as important as supervision. Develop a training program that will give the intern a clear understanding of what is expected, and include information about the duties that will be supervised and evaluated. To begin with, a well thought out orientation session will help to clarify goals and objectives while also providing the intern with information about the organization and the structure of the organization. The orientation session will also give the employer the opportunity to introduce the intern to the individuals they will be working closely with. Ongoing training is also important and may include the following: developing specific skill sets; job shadowing; active learning through questioning; attending professional association meetings.
Evaluation is important to an intern's development and is an opportunity to identify strengths and weaknesses. It is helpful if supervisors evaluate throughout the entire internship, not just at the end. The evaluation should be structured as a learning experience and an opportunity for bilateral feedback. Regularly scheduled evaluations help avoid common problems with internships, including miscommunication, misunderstanding of job roles, and lack of specific goals and objectives. You may find it helpful to schedule a preliminary evaluation very early in the internship (in the second or third week). This will help you understand whether the intern's orientation and training was sufficient, or if there are specific areas in which the intern has questions or needs further training.
Criteria for an employer to consider when evaluating an intern include:
- Progress towards or accomplishment of learning objectives
- Skill development or job knowledge gained over the course of the internship
- Overall contribution to the mission of the organization
The student should also evaluate the internship experience, which is important in determining the value of the work experience for future interns. Categories may include:
- Was there educational value in the experience?
- Does the experience relate to your academic or career goals?
- Did you receive a proper job orientation?
- Was the supervisor willing and/or capable of answering questions?
- Did you develop/enhance positive work habits?
Completion of the Internship
An internship should have a clearly stated end date that is identified before the internship begins. Completing a formal evaluation process can help both the site supervisor and the intern to put closure on the experience.
If you are considering hiring the intern for a full-time or part-time position, it is important to make this transition clear. It is not fair to the intern or co-workers to simply "extend the internship." Make the offer as you would with any employee, complete with a title change and a job description. As the person is now considered an employee with some degree of experience and more responsibility, it is normal practice to offer a pay raise when someone makes the leap from intern to employee.
Internship Best Practices
The Association of American Colleges & Universities defines internships as high impact, experiential learning opportunities, working to close the gap between the knowledge students gain academically and the skills needed for entry as new professionals in the job market. Internships are utilized by students either exploring career options related to their area of study or for those who want to sharpen their desired industry-related skills to springboard into careers after graduation. Internships challenge students to pursue their short-term and long-term plans all while being supervised by industry professionals that can help guide and mentor them with ongoing feedback and skill development. While designed to benefit the student in their learning, internships also bring benefits to the employer.
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 of a regular employee
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
Benefits to the Employer
- Develop a pipeline to hiring future employees, reducing onboarding and recruiting costs
- Evaluate and guide prospective talent to industry needs
- Enhance perspective by bringing new people and fresh ideas to your team
- Increase productivity with a low-cost extra set of hands to help with short or long-term projects
- Build your business brand and recognition on college campuses
- Improve the workforce development shortage in the state of New Hampshire by keeping and attracting young professionals to the state
Key Attributes of an Internship
- Experience – Expose students to a workplace, knowledge of an industry and practical/transferable skills
- Duration – Define how long and how many hours is required
- Mentorship – Provide the students with a resource that is committed to the learning who does not directly supervise
Types of Internships
There are many types of internships available at the University of New Hampshire. It is important to know the difference between the types prior to establishing your positions.
Internships that offer an hourly wage or stipend for time at minimum wage or higher. 64% of students having internships have had at least one paid internship during their time at UNH. Employers can determine the rate of pay. Compensation information is found under the section, “Developing Internships”. Paid internships are a best practice, and generally yield stronger candidate applications and talent pool.
Internships that do not offer pay for their time. Unpaid internships must comply with the U.S. Department of Labor, Fair Labor Standards Act Fact Sheet #71. The internship is not being used as a substitute for a regular, paid employee or as a trial period. NH employers hosting an unpaid internship must receive approval through the NH Department of Labor. More information on DOL and FLSA are found under the section, “Developing Internships”.
Internships that fulfill credit hours. There are programs and majors that have required or optional internships for credit. Credit-bearing internships vary from program to program. As an employer looking to set up credit-bearing internships, note that credit-bearing internships are a student and faculty-driven process. Students wishing to complete internships for credit must work with their faculty member/academic advisor to see if the internship fits in their program. A faculty member will need to sign off on the internship paperwork including a learning agreement. Each college may have certain guidelines that the internship site will have to follow. If the internship is unpaid and credit-bearing, it will still need to follow DOL and FLSA standards. UNH students will have to pay for any academic credit they earn.
Internships are typically a semester or summer length. Co-Ops require a semester or summer away from campus for the position. At this moment in time not many programs are designed on the co-op model or timeframe with the exception of a couple academic departments.
What is the difference between volunteering and an unpaid internship?
Volunteering refers to hours of service performed for an organization for "civic, charitable, or humanitarian reasons, without promise, expectation, or receipt of compensation for services rendered." (U.S. Department of Labor).
Unpaid Internships are different because they provide experience, learning outcomes, and skill development.
What is the difference between part-time employment and an internship?
Part-time employment refers to paying employees in exchange for doing a specific job.
Internships are different because they are an educational opportunity that provides work experience, learning outcomes and skill development.
Policies for Internships and Recruiting at the University of New Hampshire
Employers must adhere to University of New Hampshire, NACE Principles of Professional Practices, US Department of Labor and Federal Employment Laws (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Fair Labor Standards Act). It is unlawful for employers to use screening criteria based on race, gender, ethnicity, marital status, disability, age, religion, pregnancy, sexual orientation, veteran status and political affiliation.
1. Practice reasonable, responsible, and transparent behavior …
… that consciously avoids harmful actions by embodying high ethical standards.
… by clearly articulating and widely disseminating your organization’s policies and guidelines.
… that guarantees equitable services for all constituencies.
… that is commensurate with professional association standards and principles.
… when resolving differences and addressing concerns.
… by nurturing sustainable relationships that are respectful and transcend transactions.
2. Act without bias …
… when advising, servicing, interviewing, or making employment decisions.
… when defining what constitutes employment.
3. Ensure equitable access …
… without stipulation or exception relative to contributions of financial support, gifts, affiliation, or in-kind services.
… in the provision of services and opportunities without discriminating on the basis of race, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, disability, age, or economic status.
… by proactively addressing inclusivity and diversity.
4. Comply with laws …
… associated with local, state, and federal entities, including but not limited to EEO compliance, immigration, and affirmative action.
… in a timely and appropriate way if complaints of non-compliance occur.
… and respond to complaints of non-compliance in a timely and prudent manner.
5. Protect confidentiality of …
… all personal information related to candidates and their interviews, and their engagement with services, programs, and resources.
… student information related to professional plans.
The U.S. Department of Labor provides general information to help determine whether interns and students working for “for-profit” employers are entitled to minimum wages and overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The FLSA requires “for-profit” employers to pay employees for their work. Interns and students, however, may not be “employees” under the FLSA—in which case the FLSA does not require compensation for their work.
The Test for Unpaid Interns and Students
Courts have used the “primary beneficiary test” to determine whether an intern or student is, in fact, an employee under the FLSA. In short, this test allows courts to examine the “economic reality” of the intern/employer relationship to determine which party is the “primary beneficiary” of the relationship. Courts have identified the following seven factors as part of the test:
- The extent to which the intern and the employer clearly understand that there is no expectation of compensation. Any promise of compensation, express or implied, suggests that the intern is an employee—and vice versa.
- The extent to which the internship provides training that would be similar to that which would be given in an educational environment, including the clinical and other hands-on training provided by educational institutions.
- The extent to which the internship is tied to the intern’s formal education program by integrated coursework or the receipt of academic credit.
- The extent to which the internship accommodates the intern’s academic commitments by corresponding to the academic calendar.
- The extent to which the internship’s duration is limited to the period in which the internship provides the intern with beneficial learning.
- The extent to which the intern’s work complements, rather than displaces, the work of paid employees while providing significant educational benefits to the intern.
- The extent to which the intern and the employer understand that the internship is conducted without entitlement to a paid job at the conclusion of the internship.
The RSA 279:22-aa requires that all unpaid, NH-based internships must be approved by the NH Department of Labor. This law is in employer’s best interest, setting a clear understanding that the unpaid work between intern and employer is tied to the student’s academic studies and no such student shall be allowed to replace an existing or a laid-off worker. It is the employer’s responsibility to fill out and have this on file with the Department of Labor.
There are two forms associated with approval from the NH Department of Labor:
Pre-Screening – Form to be completed annually to ensure compliance NH labor laws
a. Employer to fill out and submit form directly to NH Department of Labor
Approval Form for Non-Paid Work-Based Activities – Form to be completed once to ensure internship specifics and documentation are in connection to student(s) academic studies.
a. Employer to fill out and submit form (along with the pre-screening form) directly to NH Department of Labor
b. You will need to work with the student you plan to hire to connect to an academic course syllabus or program goals
c. An approval form is good and does not need to be re-submitted unless the academic program it is connected with changes over 90%
Please view frequently asked questions here. For additional questions or concerns about the NH Department of Labor laws and approval process, please connect with inspectors at InspectionDiv@dol.nh.gov.
Posting alone on UNH’s online jobs board will not guarantee applications or inquiries. Attracting students begins with designing an appealing internship experience, determining compensation, writing an eye-catching description and creating a recruitment plan. See below for more information on these parts.
Prior to hiring an intern, an employer must understand how interns will fit within the company’s goals and culture. Since organizations vary in age, size, industry, and product, so too will internship activities.
Questions that may determine what kind of program will work best for you:
What does your organization hope to gain from the program?
Is your organization looking to fulfill a need on a specific project? Will this internship(s) encompass one major project, or entail a variety of small projects?
What are the tools and workspace necessary to provide the student?
What talents, academic background and experience do you want in an intern? Decide on qualifications early on to help you select the best candidate.
Who will be primarily responsible for the intern(s)? Will that person be a mentor, supervisor, or both?
Learn about prospective interns: Whether a college student or adult learner, we want to develop skills. The best way to know what skills an intern is hoping to gain is to ask in the interview. It is important that employers realize that school and classes must remain a top priority for interns if they are a current student. The internship position should enhance their learning experience. Understand that for most interns this is a new experience and they may need support in balancing their schoolwork and internship. Agreeing on a set number of hours interns will work each week and offering flex‐time for freedom to plan their schedules on a weekly basis are two ways to support balance. Required hours/credit may vary by school but most interns typically complete 10‐20 hours per week. The student intern should meet with an academic or internship advisor for further direction.
There are multiple options when internships can take place at the University of New Hampshire. Academic internships tend to fall within semesters. Summer internships are the most popular time of year. UNH's four internship timeframes:
Approximately end of August – Beginning of December
Suggested timeframe to post: April to June
Approximately end of December – End of January
Suggested timeframe to post: September to November
Approximately end of January – Beginning of May
Suggested timeframe to post: September to November
Approximately Mid-May – Mid-August
Suggested timeframe to post: January to March
A variety of academic programs across UNH require internships for course credit in order to graduate. Students are strongly encouraged to take multiple internships throughout their college careers and may do so with or without academic credit. Students are advised to begin searching for an internship roughly one semester before it is required or wanted; this can help guide you for when to recruit for interns at UNH. For example, students looking for spring internships will start searching in the fall semester.
The student’s availability to intern varies throughout the year. During the school year (end of August to the beginning of May) students do not have as much time to dedicate to an internship. With students enrolled in classes, internships during the school semester should be around 10-15 hours a week.
Employers looking to host a summer internship would have more availability to have the intern work full-time hours. If the internship is unpaid during the summer, the hours should reflect part-time hours to allow the intern to work a part-time job to supplement their income.
Credit-bearing internships are a heavily student-driven process. A student is responsible for working with their academic advisor to set up an internship for credit to help determine hours based on credit hours. An employer looking to become a credit-bearing site should work with their intern on the items that need to be completed to set up the site.
At the University of New Hampshire, students complete internships in a few different ways. The employer relations team can provide some information about what the average student at UNH is earning for an internship pay rate. Employers should research what interns are earning as location, industry, and position type are all factors when evaluating the offer.
Hourly compensation should be above minimum wage in the state the intern is completing the internship
Stipends are another form of payment. For example, a semester-long internship could come with one lump sum of $1500
Utilizing pay is one method to make your internship competitive. However, there are other methods to compensate an intern. Internships are an opportunity to explore and gain experiences. Work-based learning opportunities can be incentives for a student to pick your internship program. Opportunities such as:
Professional development, trainings, and seminars
Certifications and licensing
A travel stipend for a conference
Meals or transportation costs
Invite them to and pay for industry dinners or other networking opportunities
Meeting with the company CEO or organization’s Executive Director for lunch
Collaboration or partnering with other businesses or organizations that your company works with
Payment for membership to a professional association
Results-based bonuses for performances
Inclusion – show the intern the path to growth and how they might be a part of your organization after their internship or in the future. Include interns on staff meetings and strategic planning discussion
Encourage interns to build awareness of the industry by connecting them with various staff at your organization to learn about their jobs, careers and their own path to advancement
For further information on general internship compensation, please review NACE’s Intern Salary Guide. If you would like to know more specific UNH intern average compensation, your relationship manager can help provide some guidance. Relationship managers are Career and Professional Success staff that are your primary points of contact for questions and concerns. You can find out more about relationship managers by connecting with CaPS Employer Relations team.
Crafting the right posting is essential to attracting internship talent. The posting should have an introduction paragraph describing the organization as well as clear learning objectives or outcomes. Below you will find some information that would be helpful in your job posting.
Title: The title of the internship should be descriptive. It should be reflected in the title that it is an internship.
Description: Start with the description of the company followed by the overview of the internship. This area should highlight what the student will learn from the experience. What is in it for the intern?
Projects/Learning Objectives: MUST HAVE! This is important in experiential learning and internships. List all duties the intern will be performing. An internship should be an extension of their classroom knowledge, but should have hands-on real-world experience. Projects are great for interns to take on responsibilities that they are accountable for with the mentors monitoring. Clerical tasks should be no more than 20%. Be as specific as possible!
Qualifications: Describe your ideal candidate. Explain what type of background they should have. Many students will not have professional experience, so be descriptive in regard to the qualities and previous experience they may have from the classroom or part-time/ volunteer experience.
Location: Where they will be working and make note of any traveling they may have to do.
Position Pay Type: Paid, stipend, unpaid.
Desired Majors or Skills: List all majors that are relevant. Keeping majors open can connect you with a larger population of students. Skills are useful to help students understand if they are qualified, but also can give students an idea of the skills they may learn in the internship.
Desired Class: Juniors and seniors are more likely to look at internships, but motivated underclassman may be eligible too.
Approximate Hours Per Week: How many days and the total number of hours in a week. Students should have a clear understanding of the number of hours needed to complete the internship.
Target Start Date: Provide a rough estimate of when the intern would start, to help mediate the risk of the intern not accepting an offer due to the start date.
Once an employer has successfully completed a posting in Handshake, the next step is to further grow their brand on campus. Sometimes just posting a position is not enough. Many employers find success by attending other career events that suit their organization and recruiting needs. Below are different options we have to help employers brand their organization on the University of New Hampshire campus. Your relationship manager can help identify which options are best for you.
During the Internship
Learning agreements are required by faculty advisors when an internship is for course credit but are also good practice for experiential opportunities not related to academic credit. Learning agreements allow each party to establish learning goals and logistical needs. Students seeking credit are encouraged to prepare a minimum of three learning objectives. Objectives themselves should be agreed upon and written by both the employer and the student. Faculty advisors ultimately are the final approvers of all academic internships and will be the last person to sign off on the agreement.
General Learning Agreement Components:
Start and end dates
Number of hours on site daily and days of week
Direct supervisor's name and contact information
Paid, Unpaid, Stipend
Work Component - Job description
Learning Objectives - Students develop, site supervisors and faculty approve
General or Technical Skill Development
Personal Growth and Development
Academic Component -Set by faculty (for academic credit only)
Signatures of agreement from all involved parties
Provide an orientation for your newly hired intern. Orientations range from logistical items such as parking to organizational such as company culture and background. Keep in mind that for some students this is their first introduction to office etiquette. Never assume that a student ‘just knows’. Suggested areas to cover in an orientation are:
Tour of space
Phone, email and mail system
Dress and appearance
Hours (including time off requests, calling in sick and how to submit their time)
Suggested food location and options (with an emphasis where current employees frequent in order to network)
Company materials to read (newsletters, annual reports, organizational charts, network, client and industry association websites)
Organizational rules and policies
Industry-specific language and acronyms
Safety procedures and regulations
Security clearance, confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements
Define intern responsibilities
Define specifics of their responsibilities, offer other training opportunities outside the scope of their specific opportunities and responsibilities
Set performance expectations and the criteria for how they will be accessed
Schedule regular 1:1 supervision, discuss and establish supervision style
Procedure for asking questions, who can be the contact when direct supervisor is unavailable
Process for how work produced will be signed off on
An introduction to other staff and the opportunity to shadow/interact with their work
Understand passions and interests
Train your intern. Similar to the importance of orientation, it is best to not assume that the student knows exactly what is expected of them in regard to their job specific duties. Training ensures that you have communicated the job and gives an opportunity for the student to ask questions and seek clarification. Training and professional development opportunities outside of the intern’s assigned duties also allow for further career exploration and are great for giving a more encompassing view of the industry.
Mentoring an intern is critical to developing the future talent of your industry. According to the American Psychological Association, “a mentor is an individual with expertise who can help develop the career of a mentee”. An intern’s time at any site is to be managed. Their duties, projects, and services are to be supervised. Their talent, growth, skills, and development need to be mentored.
Career and psychosocial development are the two primary purposes of a mentor.
Career development encompasses assigning challenging work, giving a mentee exposure or visibility, protection, coaching, and sponsorship within an organization.
Psychosocial developments are interpersonal functions such as role modeling, counseling, friendship, acceptance, and confirmation.
Mentoring can be both formal and informal. There is no one size mentor relationship to fit all. Areas to consider when setting up a mentor relationship with your intern are:
Keep in mind that the individual managing or supervising the intern does not necessarily have to also be the mentor. Mentorship is an area where other professionals within your organization may be utilized to assist.
Mentorship is not about creating a clone of one’s self. It is about guiding a young professional, infusing them with skills through opportunities and enabling them to grow as a professional. Growth requires more than assessment and appraisal. A mentor must have:
Active Listening – Communication is key to a successful mentor relationship with your intern
Role Modeling – Showcase the values, attitudes and behaviors needed in your industry to succeed
Feedback – Provide the information needed for an intern to monitor their output and modify it for the next time
The focus of feedback is on the value it will have for the recipient. It is vital to any professional’s development but for interns new to the professional world, exploring their industry of choice, feedback is essential. Orientation and training are necessary to establish expectations and responsibilities for your intern. Feedback is the tool that sharpens their skills, keeps them on track and helps them succeed in helping your organization. Feedback can be both formal and informal. It is ongoing throughout their internship and not just an evaluation at the end. Benefits to feedback are:
Produces fruitful work
Ensures shared vision, values and goals
Energizes their contributions
Enables interns to see themselves in your company’s future vision
A person’s ability to receive feedback is withdrawn when they:
Need to defend themselves and/or their work
Are unable to see how to apply feedback to improve future performance
Feedback Best Practices
Provide feedback in a timely fashion. Feedback only at the end of a 12-week internship is useful for assessment but is not helping an intern learn and grow in the moment. Correct or praise behavior and work as it happens.
Be clear and specific. If an intern performed well, tell them specifically what they did well and how it impacted the team or organization as a whole. In the areas needing improvement, clear and specific feedback is required for the intern to correct the behavior for the future. If constructive criticism isn’t specific the actions needed to correct the performance in the future will be unknown
Deliver your feedback in a non-judgmental way. Feedback is intended to enhance a job performance. Give your intern a description of performance rather than a judgement of it being bad or not good enough. Use “I” statements.
Make your feedback actionable. Give tips for improvement, resources to learn from and action steps your intern can utilize for next time.
Follow up after feedback is given. Loop back around to see how an intern’s progress is going after the feedback. Be sure to recognize positive shifts in behaviors when they happen.
Feedback is a two-way street, ask interns if they have any feedback for you, the internship program or organization.
Orientations are important to onboarding your intern to the team. Equally important is the work of off-boarding your intern. Off-boarding can consist of final evaluation forms provided by UNH. These forms are often times shared with students as part of their learning. Receiving feedback is integral to a student’s development. One of the most important pieces of the evaluation you can complete is your professional advice on areas of improvement, skills, and/or understanding of the industry. Conduct an exit interview with your intern in order to:
Gather feedback from interns to help improve your internship program
Have your intern present or showcase their work to your company so you can see what value the student brought
Discuss with your intern what post internship communication will look like
Express whether you will serve as a future reference
Alert them to potential job opportunities within your company
Encourage interns to build your brand awareness on campus by connecting peer to peer and recommending your internship experience to others