Developing Your Internship Program

It is important to note that each academic department holds full authority for the requirements for enrollment in the department’s internship experience. The requirements stated here are the university’s minimum. Departments are encouraged to establish more stringent requirements as appropriate for greater student success in their internship responsibilities.

What students are eligible to participate in internship?

The basic requirements to enroll in any internship program are:

1. Students must have at least a 2.0 grade point average.
2. Students must be matriculating.

What is the level of faculty involvement to run a successful internship program?

Faculty support is the key to the success of the internship program and each student’s experience.

Who is the faculty internship coordinator?

The faculty internship coordinator is the faculty of record under whom the internship course is registered for the student and who has the responsibility for quality control.

• The faculty internship coordinator should help students with their Learning Agreement and help them develop a quality-learning plan according to the expectations of the department and what is appropriate for the position.

• The faculty internship coordinator also identifies appropriate methods for the student to document their learning to justify university credits.

Options for documentation methods are summarized later, however you may have methods not included here. Use any and all methods appropriate for each student’s experience. Usually the number of credits is a guide for the intensity or degree of detail the student documents their learning.

Keep in mind the academic rigor to which you would hold a student responsible, based on the number of credits for which they are registering their internship course. There should be evidence of a corresponding level of challenge and learning for the internship credits to be awarded.

What criteria is important for quality internship positions?

Career Development Center has collaboratively determined a minimum standard of qualities for the screening of potential internships. The job description should demonstrate:

1. The student has hands-on work with increasing levels of responsibility.
2. The work enhances the employer’s productivity and is not solely job shadowing or observation.
3. The position or work assignments are professional in nature.
4. The student has a professional supervisor/mentor. The work relates to the student’s academic major (or area of study) or their chosen career field.

What work periodsmay students perform internships?

Many Fresno State students engage in an internship concurrently with courses on campus. There are many local employers who offer part-time internships to accommodate the students’ need to continue with their courses on campus. Many part-time internships do not offer any kind of compensation.

While internship start and end dates usually do not match academic terms and registration is extended beyond the “drop/add” period, registration deadlines have been established and must be considered when planning an internship.

What else is important?

Many opportunities for full-time internships offer the best experiences and generally are paid. Many employers make their interns a conditional offer for employment upon successful completion of a full-term, full-time internship. These full-time opportunities are most strongly recommended but require careful planning of the academic program to allow for a semester away or for a summer dedicated to the internship.

What is the criteria for credit?

To establish basic criteria for determining the number of credits for which an experience qualifies, an equation of 50 hours of work per credit is recommended for all departments as a university minimum. It is also strongly recommended that students be required to work in no less than 4 hour blocks. The rationale for these two criteria is that part of the purpose of the internship experience is to engage the student in the professional environment and be part of a professional work team. Working 50 hours per credit and 4 hours per work period helps to foster that type of experience.

What is taken into consideration when grading academic internships?

Most academic internships provide students with a credit/no credit grade. Consider carefully the university’s limitations on the number of pass/fail credits allowed toward graduation, both within the major and outside the major. Grading is a very difficult issue because no two experiences are alike, so common grading criteria does not exist as it does for a traditional classroom course. Each experience must be evaluated on its own merits and the level to which the student has achieved their objectives, including the academic nature of their documentation. The higher the number of credits, the more stringent the documentation and grading criteria might be.

What documentation of learningshould be utilized?

Documentation of learning may be done in a great variety of ways. The following are typical methods used to evaluate student learning through an internship:

1. Regular journal. Students, either on a daily or weekly basis, enter a summary of their work and overall experience for the recent period. It is recommended that students follow a regular format including date, activity, work performed, what they learned, and how this helped them develop personal and/or professional skills.

2. Progress reports. At regular intervals, weekly, bi-weekly or midterm, students provide the faculty internship coordinator with a progress report of their experience and how they are moving toward the achievement of their objectives. Often this is done by e-mail.

3. Product samples. If the student was engaged in an experience where a product of any kind was involved, a sample of that product is provided with a thorough explanation of the student’s involvement in the creation/development, etc., of that product.

4. Annotated Bibliography. Most of the time the employer will have professional periodicals or other resources the student has access to or that is part of their responsibilities to use. An annotated bibliography of these periodicals or other resources requires the student to give some critical evaluation to these documents.

5. Final report. Nearly all students are required to provide a scholarly written report of the achievement of their learning objectives. The format of the report is determined in conference with the faculty internship coordinator.

6. Presentation. When public speaking and presentations are commonly part of the career field, often a public presentation is required as part of the grading criteria. The student and faculty internship coordinator should discuss the format and venue of the presentation. Regardless of the venue, the student is expected to present it as a professional to peers rather than as a student to a class.

7. Publication. Occasionally, a student is involved in a project that warrants professional publication. The faculty may assist the student in the presentation of their work for submission to a professional journal or other periodical. The process of preparing for a professional publication is part of the learning experience and worthy of grading consideration.

8. Employer evaluation. Usually each employer is contacted by mail or email with a formal evaluation form near the end of the work term. This employer feedback can also be part of the grading criteria the sponsoring faculty employs in determining the course pass or fail grade.

What are some legal issuesof internships?

The legal issues that accompany any out of classroom academic experience can be quite impacting if not addressed in advance, and is an important reason to keep in touch with your students throughout their experience. In addition, other legal issues related to employment and volunteering are summarized here so you are prepared to advise your students or to respond to their questions.

1. Safety. It is the intent of any internship program to endorse employers and positions that are in safe environments and that students are fully aware of any risks that may be involved with the internship position or location of the employer. Whenever possible, a representative of the university should visit the work site to verify any safety hazards and inform the student of the risks they may be taking by accepting a position with the employer. It is best to check with Steve Martinez, Environmental Health and Safety, 559-278-7315 to find out about the University's liability in the event of an unexpected occurrence at the workplace.

2.Unemployment Compensation. Employers are not required to pay unemployment compensation for internship students. Even in a full-time, paid position, the employer is not obligated for unemployment compensation and students may not claim unemployment benefits upon the closure of their experience.

3.Income Tax. Employers are required to withhold the usual rates for Income Tax and send a statement of earnings for income tax purposes. Students should realize that this income can impact their financial aid eligibility for the following year through the declaration of income on the FAFSA form.

4. Social Security Withholdings. Employers are required to withhold the usual rates for Social Security in paid positions. This withholding is cited on the annual statement of earnings for Income Tax purposes. Students holding an F-1 visa are not required to pay Social Security taxes. Hiring procedures should reveal a student’s eligibility for not withholding Social Security Taxes, however, advising the student of this is always wise as they can also mention it to their employer to be assured this withholding does not occur.

5.Worker’s Compensation. Students in paid positions are covered by Worker’s Compensation in the event of an accident. Many employers also list students in volunteer positions on their Worker’s Compensation roles.

6.Harassment and Discrimination. Students’ experiences should be free of harassment and discrimination. Any such abuses should be brought to the attention of the university at once and appropriate steps taken to improve the issues.

7.The Buckley Amendments (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974). This Act provides academic protection to students’ academic records. The employer evaluations and the students’ internship paperwork are considered confidential documents.