Internship Program Overview
The PSU internship program matches student educational goals with employer needs by facilitating practical real-world experiences that reinforce a students academic training and provides employers with fresh perspectives. Internships can involve a wide rage of activities, with the majority being project-based. Students may receive academic credit for their internships through our Credit by Arrangement process, and typically receive financial compensation as well.
Compensation for time spent in an internship depends upon the employer and/or the project. Some government and non-profit-related organizations offer unpaid internships, while most for-profit internships are paid, although there are exceptions. Typical wages range from $8.95 - $18/hr., with the exception of engineering internship opportunities which average $17-$22/hr.
Unpaid internships with for-profit companies are subject to Federal Labor Laws which are meant to distinguish an intern from a volunteer or an employee, and to also emphasize to the employer the necessary educational and legal aspects of an internship.
In addition to observing state and federal mandated labor laws, Advising & Career Services uses the following guidelines to ensure that all unpaid internships are meaningful, educational opportunities for our students, and that any unpaid internships with for-profit companies are within the legal confines as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act. These guidelines are derived from the National Association of Colleges & Employers criteria for unpaid internships as well as the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries standards for unpaid training.
Guidelines for Unpaid Internships with FOR PROFIT Employers:
- The Internship is highly educational and will primarily benefit the Intern
- Learning objectives are established with the intern before beginning the internship and are revisited regularly to ensure ongoing objectives are being met
- The Intern is supervised throughout the internship and is not the on-site expert for any project or task
- The Intern should not displace a paid employee
- The Employer derives no immediate financial advantage from the Intern (i.e.; no selling)
- No more the 30% of the Intern's time should be spent on clerical or repetetive tasks
- The internship is a substantial learning experience, such that a faculty member would approve the internship as worthy of academic credit
- NOTE to FOR-PROFIT Employers: PSU strongly recommends that unpaid internships are limited to only one academic term or 3 months.
Duration of Internships and Number of Hours Per Week
Internships are usually one term in duration, but occasionally longer depending upon the employer or project. The length of an internship is flexible, but should be agreed upon by both the student and the employer early in the process. Most internships are designed to follow the academic calendar and will involve working on a project which lasts throughout a term, others may be designed to span the summer months when many students are not enrolled in classes. An optimal work week is 10-20 hours, but some internships during summer months may be full-time.
On the Job Mentoring and Supervision
Working closely with a supervisor or mentor at a job site is what helps make an internship successful for all. It provides regular opportunities to focus on learning objectives, check-in on projects, and ask questions, and will likely result in an experience that benefits both the student and the employer.
Students may also benefit from the mentor-intern relationship in acquiring new job-related skills, and in developing professional practices in a real-world environment.
Interns can benefit an Employer by offering fresh perspectives, current academic training, creative new ideas, and enthusiasm for their areas of interest.