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What is an Internship?
In accordance with NACE and the U.S. Department of Labor, OSU Career Services defines an internship as

An internship is a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Internships give students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths; and give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent.


Why should you hire an intern?

How do students benefit?

What makes an ideal internship?
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  • Offers real world experience

  • Is an extension of the classroom

  • Includes hands on experience

  • Provides insight into an industry

  • Professional skills gained


  • Provide a mentor

  • Include fun onboarding process

  • Offer continuous feedback

  • Regular reflection from student

  • Formal exit interview offered

  • Provide housing during employment

  • Scholarships offered

  • Include orientation for intern & supervisor

  • Pay appropriate compensation for industry


  • Offer opportunities to meet company leadership

  • Professional development programming offered

  • Allow for cross training within the organization

  • Build connections to the local community

  • Showcases interns work

  • Offer incentives for performance

  • Special projects included

  • Goal setting with supervisor/mentor



Do you pay an intern?
It is the responsibility of each employer to determine whether an internship should be paid or unpaid, based on labor laws. Each employer should be familiar with labor laws in order to determine eligibility based on the organization's specific internship opportunity. For more information about unpaid internships and labor law, please review guidance from The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division.

The “primary beneficiary test” is used to determine whether an intern or student is, in fact, an employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Courts have identified the following seven factors as part of the test:

  1. The extent to which the intern and the employer clearly understand that there is no expectation of compensation. Any promise of compensation, express or implied, suggests that the intern is an employee—and vice versa.

  2. The extent to which the internship provides training that would be similar to that which would be given in an educational environment, including the clinical and other hands-on training provided by educational institutions.

  3. The extent to which the internship is tied to the intern’s formal education program by integrated coursework or the receipt of academic credit.

  4. The extent to which the internship accommodates the intern’s academic commitments by corresponding to the academic calendar.

  5. The extent to which the internship’s duration is limited to the period in which the internship provides the intern with beneficial learning.

  6. The extent to which the intern’s work complements, rather than displaces, the work of paid employees while providing significant educational benefits to the intern.

  7. The extent to which the intern and the employer understand that the internship is conducted without entitlement to a paid job at the conclusion of the internship.


Need additional resources to develop your Internship Program?

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