Best Practices


Best Practices

Getting started: Develop a mutually-beneficial internship experience

  • Identify organizational need: Determine whether a highly educational, vocational opportunity could be created to fulfill need for project completion, periodic support, or other
  • Identify an on-site mentor, supervisor, or manager to oversee the intern
  • Create a comprehensive position description that details the requirements, responsibilities and expectations of the role
  • Determine time commitment and duration of internship experience
    • Hours per week: 8 to 15 hours is typical during the school year and can be up to full-time in summer
    • Duration:
      • Paid Internships: One term, 6 months, summer, or full academic year
      • Unpaid internships with For-Profit Employers: limited to one academic term
  • Determine compensation - below are national average hourly wages (according to NACE)
    • Undergraduate range: minimum wage to $17/hour, with the exception of computer science and engineering positions which average $18-22/hour.
    • Bachelor's Degree average: $17/hour
    • Master's Degree average: $23/hour 
    • Unpaid internships with for-profits must meet Department of Labor criteria.
  • Internship Posting Protocol for activation in our online database

Provide ongoing support for your intern

  • Outline the scope of the intern position: Provide a detailed explanation of the student's position description. Even if project-based or of limited duration, the expectations, responsibilities, and projects to be performed by the intern are outlined in writing and verbally.
  • Develop learning objectives: Work with your intern to outline projects and tasks that will inform the learning objectives of the Internship Learning Contract. Review and sign Internship Learning Contract or similar document with the intern prior to start of the internship.
  • Appoint a mentor or supervisor: The intern’s mentor provides primary ongoing support and feedback throughout the duration of the experience. The mentor also helps the intern navigate the organization’s structure and takes an active role in the intern’s professional development.
  • Provide adequate work space and technology tools:  Be sure your intern has a designated space to perform their duties and has any additional tools required to be successful in their role.
  • Provide orientation and review worksite policies: Provide a comprehensive introduction to your organization and clearly convey workplace expectations and protocols. Working to develop an Intern Handbook is ideal, but at minimum, discuss the following:
    • Normal work hours, holidays, protocol for sick or personal time
    • Office dress code
    • Where/how to obtain office supplies
    • Introductions to co-workers
    • Office or site tour, including restrooms, cafeteria or break room, vending machines or cafes, and smoking areas (if applicable)
    • Policies on personal phone, email, or social media use
    • Emergency and safety procedures
    • How to report harassment or other serious concerns
    • Time sheets and pay periods (if applicable)
  • Invest in your interns: Whether or not you are providing monetary compensation to your interns, find ways to demonstrate that your organization is invested in its interns and their professional development. You can arrange meetings with members of your organization’s executive ranks, which provides students with great career development and networking opportunities. Offering in-house training in work-skill-related or general skills areas is also a very tangible way to demonstrate to your interns that you are interested in their development.
  • Evaluate intern and provide feedback: The intern’s mentor should provide ongoing informal feedback throughout the internship. However, a more formal evaluation mid-term and at the end of the internship will help all involved meet the objectives of the experience. An Employer Evaluation of Intern form may serve as a useful tool when providing these evaluations. Be sure to review and provide copies of any written evaluations with the intern.

(Developed from NACE Practical Guide for Employers)