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Academic Success and Career Center Cultivating Successful Scholars and Professionals

Starting an Internship for your Business or Agency

Step 1: Decide what the intern will do
Special Projects

If you are like most employers, you have a long “wish list” of special projects that need to be done but don’t have the personnel resources to organize and implement them. Because of the nature of their academic schedules, students often look for internship opportunities of limited duration (generally 15 weeks), so employers find interns to be an ideal solution to this problem. For example, interns can be assigned to organize research projects, plan special events, develop special promotional campaigns, or design web pages. When developing an internship involving special projects, you should identify goals, timelines, and outcomes so that everyone understands the purpose and expectations involved.

On-Going Operations

Certain business and organizations routinely experience peak periods where additional staff is needed. Others may operate under very limited budgets and need additional staff throughout the year. Again, interns may be able to alleviate some of these problems. For example, interns may be assigned to serve as facilitators for youth groups, human resource management support staff, public relations assistants or marketing associates. Remember that students are looking for internships that provide them with professional experience with an opportunity to learn.

Step 2: Decide what the intern will do
How long will the internship last?

Determine how much time it will take to accomplish the goals. Generally, students are available for a semester (15 weeks) or a summer internship and some students will consider longer durations.

Part-time or full-time?

Many students intern full-time during the summer when they don’t have classes. Some local internships are set up on a part-time basis (10-20 hours per week), allowing students to gain experience while maintaining a partial or full load of credits.

Step 3: Establish the necessary organizational support
  • Designate a mentor/supervisor for the intern
  • Decide whether the intern will work in one department or several
  • Determine the kind of orientation and training the intern will need
  • Provide safe working facilities. Make available equipment, supplies, and space necessary for the student to perform his/her duties.
  • Assume liability for work-related injuries sustained by the intern, insofar as the agency may determine the same to be required by law in that state.
Step 4: Write a position description
Include the following:
  • Brief organization description and organization web site
  • Position title
  • Skills and qualifications required/preferred
  • Duties and responsibilities
  • Pay rate (or indicate that it is unpaid)
  • Hours per week
  • Location (city, state)
  • Start/end dates of the internship
  • How to apply and deadline to apply