Hosting an internship can be a great experience for both employers and students. A successful internship experience provides students with practical and
meaningful experiences directly related to their career choice. It gives them an opportunity to "test-drive"
a position and apply classroom learning in a professional work setting.
Internships provide host employers with energetic, high-achieving workers that bring fresh ideas and enthusiasm to the organization. Employers also have the
opportunity to identify potential future employees, increase diversity, and build relationships with colleges.
Internships & Unpaid Internships
In accordance with NACE and the U.S. Department of Labor, OSU Career Services defines an internship as the following:
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
As such, all internships posted with OSU Career Services should meet the following criteria:
- The experience must be an extension of the classroom: a learning experience that provides for applying the knowledge gained in the classroom. It must
not be simply to advance the operations of the employer or be the work that a regular employee would routinely perform.
- The skills or knowledge learned must be transferable to other employment settings.
- The experience has a defined beginning and end, and a job description with desired qualifications.
- There are clearly defined learning objectives/goals related to the professional goals of the student’s academic coursework.
- There is supervision by a professional with expertise and educational and/or professional background in the field of the experience.
- There is routine feedback by the experienced supervisor.
- There are resources, equipment, and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning objectives/goals.
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 the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Guidance Letter
The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division
(WHD) has developed the six factors below to evaluate whether a worker is a trainee or an employee for purposes of the FLSA:
- The training, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to what would be given in a vocational school or academic educational instruction;
- The training is for the benefit of the trainees;
- The trainees do not displace regular employees, but work under their close observation;
- The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees, and on occasion the employer's operations may actually be impeded;
- The trainees are not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period; and
- The employer and the trainees understand that the trainees are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.
If all of the factors listed above are met, then the worker is a "trainee," an employment relationship does not exist under the FLSA, and the FLSA's minimum
wage and overtime provisions do not apply to the worker. Generally, this allows the experience to be an unpaid internship, but we expect all employers to research the
topic thoroughly to find the best option for each individual organization and each unique experience.
Not all students can/opt to receive academic credit for their internship experiences. Students seeking academic credit must check with their academic
advisors and/or department heads to confirm that an internship complies with departmental requirements for credit. If credit is possible, a faculty member,
department head and/or advisor should contact the employer to ensure all the correct paperwork (learning outcomes, performance evaluation, etc.) is completed in advance.
Refer to these links for more information about internships from each college:
College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources
College of Arts and Sciences
College of Education
Spears Schools of Business