»What Employers Should Know About Internships

An internship is a structured and supervised professional work-learn experience within an approved agency, organization, corporation, for which a student can earn academic credit. Internships for credit at Chapman are established by a 4-way partnership between the student, the site supervisor (employer), the faculty internship supervisor, and Chapman University’s centralized Internship Coordinator housed in the Career Development Center. The Internship Program at Chapman has been developed under the guidance and best practices that are promoted by the California Internship and Work Experience Association (CIWEA)and is affiliated with this organization’s membership.

  • Why Hire an Intern?
  • What Can I expect from my intern
  • Employer Responsibilities
  • Legal Issues
  • Participation in an internship program can enhance an employer’s relationship with Chapman University by way of new academic partnerships, a recruitment pipeline to build your applicant pool, and through a culture of mentorship and learning.

    There is no long-term commitment so recruitment for projects with short and ongoing timelines is welcomed year-round. Several national studies have shown that participation in such programs is a cost-effective way for employers to pre-screen, evaluate, train, recruit and hire talent. Although there are many tasks students can perform, the primary purpose of an internship is to provide a beneficial learning environment for the student.

    Ask yourself the following questions to determine your needs and qualifications as an employer:

    Is the work meaningful and appropriate for a college student?
    Hiring a student to perform busy work (cold calls, data entry, filing, answering phones, faxing, "gophering," etc.) is inappropriate for internship experiences. Hiring an intern to alleviate some of your busy work is acceptable if balanced with meaningful responsibilities.

    Will there be sufficient learning opportunities?
    The basis of the four-way partnership between the employer, the student, faculty internship advisor, and the Internship Coordinator is a shared goal: the learning, growth, and development of the intern. Will the work you offer the intern meet this goal?

    Are you available for on-site supervision?
    Do you have the time to oversee and guide the student's performance? Will you be available to offer constructive feedback?

    Will you provide appropriate resources for the student to do the job?
    Student interns require an adequate work environment to perform useful and necessary tasks. Can you be sure the student has an appropriate work station to complete the agreed upon duties? Does the student need a computer? A phone? Pens? Paper? It is unreasonable to expect anyone, including a student, to perform a job function without proper resources.

    Are the required skills and responsibilities sufficiently challenging?
    An internship serves as a link between textbook theory and practical application. Will the work require the student to make decisions and learn about the field through hands-on experience?

  • Chapman University interns commit to agreed-upon job duties just like any other employee. Interns also commit to a specific number of hours of work per week or per semester. Sometimes these commitments vary from the University's minimum requirements for course credit. Be sure to discuss the learning contract terms of agreement and obligations with the student prior to hiring him or her.

    Typically, students enroll for three units of internship course work per term, or 120 hours of work over a 3 to 4 month period. For each unit of credit, the student must complete a minimum of 40 hours of work at the employment site. Because Chapman encourages exposure to a variety of work settings, no more than three units of credit may be taken with a single employer during a term. Students may remain with the same employer for a maximum of two terms.

    However, when a student continues for a second term with the same employer, the student must have significantly different responsibilities. If, after the second term, continued employment is agreed upon by the student and the employer, the student may remain at the work site, but cannot register for, or acquire, additional course credit for the employment period.

    Employers can expect students to follow the guidelines listed below:

    1. Present a resume and cover letter for the prospective employer.
    2. Comply with the employer's rules and regulations: report for work on time, complete assignments competently, maintain a professional attitude and appearance.
    3. Maintain a record of days and hours worked. At the end of the term, the employer signs this log and the student submits the log to the internship faculty advisor and the Career Development Center.
    4. Verify that the employer returns the employer evaluation form to the Career Development Center by the appointed deadline.
    5. Notify the employer of any absences or unexpected difficulties in fulfilling the internship contract.
    6. Notify the faculty internship advisor and the Career Development Center of any changes in job status, or if any difficulties are experienced with the internship site or employer.
    7. Notify the internship employer of any changes in enrollment status.
  • The primary objective for an internship is to create a constructive work/learn environment for the student. Interns can benefit by experiencing "a day in the life" of the site supervisor, top level executives or leaders and other employees. Include the student in hands-on, meaningful work which will enhance understanding of the industry. Invite interns to staff meetings, client meetings, conference calls, field visits and other activities that provide the opportunity for a work/learn experience.

    Every employer and internship is unique. Customize your own objectives and supervision to best accommodate the needs of the intern and the needs of your organization. Keep in mind that not all interns are familiar with formal work settings and policies about conduct, break times, attendance and days off. Take some time to orient the student to your organization's policies.

    You will be presented with an Internship Learning Agreement Form (ILAF) if the student is enrolling for academic credit. This is an opportunity for you and the student to clearly define the internship duties during this time-limited work period.

    Below are guidelines for completing the Site/Site Supervisor section of the ILAF:

    • Include accurate contact information for the student's direct supervisor.
    • Include the dates of employment and the number of hours the student will work weekly.
    • Include a detailed list of the intern’s job duties.
    • The student will return the completed ILAF to the Career Development Center at Chapman by the deadline posted on Chapman’s Academic Calendar. [internal link: http://www.chapman.edu/academics/calendars.asp]
    • Provide an orientation for the student to the work site. Introduce the intern to the organization of the workplace, the employees, the physical layout, and the order of responsibility. Be sure the intern knows the general philosophy and procedures of operation for the organization as a whole. Inform the intern of rules and expectations to be followed.
    • Discuss and arrange supervision meetings with the student intern and provide opportunities for the intern to ask questions to discuss progress.
    • Allow either phone contact or a site visit from the student's faculty internship advisor and/or the Internship Coordinator as needed.
    • Complete the performance evaluation (provided mid-term by the Career Development Center) before grades are due.  Students may not receive credit until this form is returned. The performance evaluation is a confidential document so the form will be Emailed and/or mailed to the site supervisor and returned to the Internship Coordinator directly and not by way of the intern. 
    • Verify hours worked on the evaluation form. Take some time to review the evaluation of performance with the student intern for a constructive work/learn experience.
  • Fair Labor Standards Act

    Employers must be aware of and ensure compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), before classifying an intern as an unpaid "trainee." If an intern is considered an "employee" for purposes of the FLSA, then the employer must pay its interns at least the minimum wage.

    "Employee" is defined by the FLSA as "any individual employed by an employer." Under the FLSA, to "employ" means "to suffer or permit to work." Since this definition is somewhat circular, the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division developed a six-factor test for determining whether workers are to be considered "trainees" or "employees" under the FLSA. 

    Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) 

    To Pay or Not To Pay?

    Most students cannot afford to accept unpaid internships without taking a second paid position elsewhere. Consider paying interns by the hour or offering a monthly stipend. A typical hourly internship wage ranges from minimum wage upwards to $20/hour. At Chapman, a student can receive both academic credit and compensation for an internship experience. Although employers are not required by law to pay interns who qualify as learner/trainees, the U.S. Department of Labor does require that employers obtain proof from non-paid interns that academic credit is being received.

    Student interns may not be classified as independent contractors because they require on-going supervision and regular interaction with the employer. Consequently, it is unlikely that the student will have the degree of independence in performing his/her work that is essential in establishing independent contractor status.

    Check here for Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act [internal link: http://www.chapman.edu/RegOffice/privacyRights.asp]

    Intern Insurance

    All full-time and part-time students registered for Internships who work in unpaid positions are covered by Chapman University's general liability insurance coverage, at the option of the educational organization. Students being paid for their services shall be covered by the employer's workers compensation. Upon request, Chapman University will provide a certificate of insurance for general liability insurance.

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