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Internship Best Practices
What is an internship?
The Career Center defines an internship as a carefully monitored work or service experience in which personal and career-related learning goals are set. Key characteristics include:
- Delivers a concise and detailed description in the listing. Students are excited to work hard and create results, but also want an internship that will aid their long-term professional development. Describe your organization and internship position with as much detail as possible. Consider reviewing the Crafting an Internship Description guide.
- Defines duration. The duration of an internship can range from several weeks to three years or more. During this time, the intern is closely mentored and supervised. It is recommended that student and supervisor set new goals quarterly or on a regular schedule.
- Serves as a part-time, full-time, paid or unpaid position. It is recommended that unpaid interns do not work more than 10-15 hours per week. These internships must meet the Department of Labor criteria.
- Provides set learning objectives. The internship should have 3-4 learning objectives. We recommend the employer provide resources to support the intern’s learning objectives.
- Qualifies for academic credit. Internships may be part of an educational program, during which the work is carefully monitored and evaluated for academic credit awarded by DePaul University. Academic internships must be approved in advance. Review the academic internship standards.
What is the value of paying your interns?
- Interns can focus more on work responsibilities and creating results. Paying your interns enables them to more fully focus on the job at hand without the worry of meeting financial obligations at home.
- The position will attract more competitive and diverse candidates. Our experience shows paid internships attract a larger, more diverse applicant pool.
- You can receive a measurable return on investment. By estimating and sharing the dollar value an intern contributes to your organization, you can make a case for support with departmental managers.
How do you create a successful internship experience?
As an employer, your role as a mentor is to offer experiential education to DePaul students. The following tips can help your company build or enhance a successful internship program.
- Introduce your intern: Provide an introduction to the organization, reveal the quirks of the culture, introduce key contacts within the establishment, and offer access to resources. You may also consider arranging informational interviews with fellow colleagues to help your intern prepare for a future career within the industry.
- Communicate: Communicate often with your intern, whether it’s to provide feedback, offer training, or to check in on the intern’s progress.
- Integrate your intern: Allowing interns to gain a greater understanding of your organization can help them generate fresh ideas and reap a more rewarding internship experience. Consider bringing interns to meetings, conferences, trainings and networking events.
- Delegate projects for downtime: When delegating projects, consider mixing short-term and long-term projects. If interns finish tasks early, they can seize the initiative to continue a long-term project.