Interns give employers a flexible, cost-effective way to build a workforce without requiring long-term commitment. Employers benefit from having highly motivated pre-professionals who can bring fresh perspectives, as well as an understanding of new and emerging technologies. Internships also train the next generation and provide your industry with a pool of future employees.
Students also benefit from internships. They gain work experience and meet professionals working in their field.
Internships typically last between three and six months. They are usually conducted on a part-time basis during the school year, however they could be full time in the summer. Internships are typically one-time experiences.
All eligible Columbia College students have an opportunity to earn academic credit for internships. Regardless of whether students earn credit, internships are unique from other jobs or volunteer positions, as they should have an intentional learning agenda structured in the experience.
For-profit businesses are encouraged to offer compensation for internships. If your organization cannot offer a regular wage, consider providing a stipend or paying internship-related expenses such as parking fees, mileage, equipment or membership fees to a professional organization.
Unpaid student employment will not violate the Department of Labor's Fair Labor Standards Act if the internship meets the following criteria:
- The training is similar to that given in a vocational setting
- The experience benefits the student
- Students do not displace regular employees
- The site sponsor provides training and receives no immediate advantage from the activity of students
- Students are not entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period
- The site sponsor and student understand that the student is not entitled to wages for the time spent in training
International students are eligible to intern in the U.S. with no extra paperwork or cost. International students at Columbia College have a high level of fluency in English and can bring new perspectives and ideas to an organization.
If a company hasn’t had experience working with interns in the past, below is a handbook that can help them put together a positive, meaningful and mutually beneficial experience: