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Developing an Internship? Things to Consider

Successful internship programs/positions share the following characteristics:

  • There is "buy-in" and support at all levels of the organization.
  • The program/position is solidly built, with clear goals and well-designed processes for recruitment, orientation, supervision, evaluation, and improvement.
  • Interns are given meaningful work experiences and are treated and trained as "real" employees.
  • Mentoring is provided to guide students' development.
  • Compensation and/or benefits are offered, showing that interns are valued.
  • The organization regularly offers internship opportunities and maintains a solid reputation with the university.
  • The organization is always looking for ways to improve its internship offerings.
  • Opportunities are provided for a variety of majors, putting the focus on a student's career goal rather than major.

Questions to ask when deciding to develop an internship:

  • Is there sufficient staff time to supervise and mentor a student intern?
  • Are there staff members who want to supervise (NOT "want to have") an intern?
  • Do potential intern supervisors have the necessary and appropriate professional expertise to "teach" an intern?
  • Are there sufficient resources to have an intern, such as office space and equipment?
  • What work and/or projects does the organization need to have done? What can a student learn from the work?
  • Would the work you need done be appropriate for a student to do, considering his/her limited experience?
  • What work hours would be best for completing work tasks/projects? Can the student's work hours be flexible?
  • How long of a commitment is appropriate? Is one semester or summer enough, or would a longer commitment be necessary?
  • What qualifications, such as relevant skills, would be appropriate for the work?
  • What time of year is best for listing internship opportunities, selecting an intern, and bringing an intern into your organization (taking into account students' and the university's schedules)?

Suggested Recruitment Time Frames

When should you promote your internship opportunity and conduct the hiring process for an intern? Follow our suggested time frames for a typical internship position:

Looking for an intern for the summer?

  • Typically, a summer internship begins in June and lasts until mid-August.
  • Recruit in January through May.

Looking for an intern for the fall?

  • Typically, a fall semester internship begins in September and lasts until mid-December.
  • Recruit in April through August/early September.

Looking for an intern for the spring?

  • Typically, a spring semester internship begins in late January/early February and lasts until mid-May.
  • Recruit in September through December/early January.