Internship

Definition

The term internship refers to a mutually beneficial exchange of services between a student and an employer.  Internships provide the student with an opportunity to learn about the company, occupation or industry.

Explanation

Internships are normally formal programs offered by companies, which allow students to gain insights into specific occupations or industries.  Colleges and universities oftentimes help students find internships, thereby extending the classroom into the workplace.

While the student gains exposure to the employer, workplace and occupation, the employer benefits from the arrangement too.  College interns are usually relatively inexpensive employees that are eager to please their employer.  If there is mutual interest, employers will offer former interns permanent positions in their organizations.  Unlike an apprenticeship program, an offer of employment after graduation is not guaranteed.

While this type of arrangement may occur during a school's academic calendar, the most common form is a summer internship.  Generally, students will apply for a position in early January for assignments that run from mid-May through August; jobs can be both full-time as well as part-time positions.

Paid internships are common in the United States, and span many industries.  However, it is possible for a company to offer a student an unpaid internship position if all of the following Department of Labor requirements are met:

  • Interns are informed they will not be receiving compensation for their time spent in training.
  • The employer derives no immediate benefit from the activities of the interns, they are considered trainees.
  • Trainees are not guaranteed a job when training is completed.
  • The employer's regular employees are not replaced with interns.
  • The training is similar to that offered through an academic institution or vocational school.
  • The intern derives a benefit from the training.

Related Terms

apprenticeship, Career and Technical Education, concurrent enrollment, deferred admission, distance learning, early decision, early admission, entry level job, equivalent work experience, returnship, seasonal employment