A successful internship combines practical work experience with a structured learning experience. Work is substantive and supports academic and career goals. There is a supervised effort to promote critical thinking, observation and reflection, which fosters intellectual, personal and professional development.
How Can An Employer Benefit?
Many supervisors simply enjoy sharing their expertise as professional mentors. In addition, some tangible benefits include:
- Year-round source of highly motivated pre-professionals
- Quality candidates for temporary or seasonal positions and projects
- Freedom for professional staff to pursue more creative projects
- Flexible, cost-effective work force not requiring long-term employer commitment
- Proven, cost-effective way to recruit and evaluate potential employees
How Does it Work?
As a sponsoring organization, you can offer substantive work experiences that support students’ academic and career goals. Students at Purdue University Northwest realize the importance of gaining practical experience from internships. They seek internships locally during the Fall and Spring semesters and a small number seek nationwide internships in the summer months.
At Purdue University Northwest because of the diversity of our degree programs, our Internship “program” is decentralized. This means that each academic unit has an established policy on internships in reference to their degree programs.
The Career Center staff believes that quality internships are extremely effective way for organizations to test, train and recruit potential full time employees, while at the same time offering students an opportunity to learn and gain practical work experience.
The Career Center is committed to assisting organizations in their efforts to recruit Purdue University Northwest students for internship positions. Students at Purdue University Northwest are encouraged to log onto the the PNW Handshake Network to seek out internship opportunities.
What is Expected of the Employer (Internship Supervisor)?
We expect you to provide career-related work experiences that are of sufficient challenge to college-level students. In addition to providing work that contributes to your organization’s mission, we also hope you actively support the student’s learning endeavor. Someone who has a heart for professional development of others should be assigned to supervise the student. That person should:
- Provide a clear job/project description for the work experience
- Orient the student to the organization, its “culture” and their work assignment(s)
- Assist the student in developing/achieving personal learning objectives
- Offer feedback to the student on a regular basis
- Complete any formal written evaluations throughout and at the conclusion of the work experience (as required by the faculty advisor).
Must An Internship Be Paid?
In order to comply with Federal Labor Laws, internship must either be paid or for academic credit if they are at a for-profit agency. Non-profits and government agencies may host interns without awarding any compensation. If you would like to offer an internship for academic credit, Purdue University Northwest asks that you take the following steps:
- Complete the online Internship Vacancy Form
- Include with your Vacancy form a job description/project outline of the duties, responsibilities and qualifications that would be expected of the intern
- The documents submitted will be sent to the appropriate Department Chair of the appropriate academic program for review to determine if the internship is an appropriate learning experience
The Career Center does not award nor arrange for academic credit for internships. It is the responsibility of the student to seek approval for academic credit from the appropriate academic department prior to accepting an internship for credit.
We encourage all companies and organizations to consider offering compensation. This will help you to attract more quality candidates, as well as solidify time commitments from interns.
Many students work their way through college and often give up part time employment to take an internship, so receiving some form of remuneration is appreciated. Average hourly pay for interns ranges from $8-$20 an hour.
Work hours for interns during the Fall and Spring semesters should be in the area of 10-20 per week, and can reach up to 40 hours per week during the Summer. Employers are encouraged to be flexible during times such as midterms and finals.
Hosting An Intern Is The Smart Choice
- Expertise. Most students schedule their internships relatively late in their degree programs. They bring with them the academic preparation of an almost completed degree. They will be well-read in current theory and practice as a result of their coursework.
- Energy. Interns come full of energy and ideas. They are eager to learn, be challenged, and contribute. An intern can be a great catalyst for new ideas and organizational growth.
- Trial Period. Researchers in employment trends are finding a consistent pattern in hiring practices spread across all sizes of firms and agencies. Increasingly, employers are looking to their former interns when they seek to hire new professionals. They hire their interns with the benefit of having had a trial period. Familiarity with the organizational culture and job responsibilities ensures an institutional fit for both the employer and the intern.
- Contribution. As the host, you are making an important contribution to the higher education experience of a soon to be professional. You are educating the intern on the practical application of their field. Your guidance and supervision can help steer their development at a crucial time in their academic and professional careers.
Characteristics of a Successful Internship
Students that have reported having excellent internship experiences have cited the following common characteristics:
- Orientation program. A formal or informal orientation program was provided which included a tour of the facility, introduction to co-workers, review of policies and procedures and familiarization with the company structure, philosophy and culture.
- Expectations established. Expectations regarding performance and behavior established and clearly articulated by the supervisor.
- Active participation. Whether their project involves working with clients, coworkers, or alone, interns want to be involved! Involving them in many projects allows them to learn quickly, which benefits everyone.
- Challenging assignments. Assignments that utilize the interns full range of skills and abilities (75% of duties were career related and no more than 25% of duties were clerical).