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Employer Responsibilities: Internships

  • Set clear objectives and expectations for the position.
  • Assign meaningful tasks and duties that help further the organization’s mission.
  • Evaluate the intern and provide regular feedback.
  • Schedule regular meetings between the intern and his/her supervisor to allow open discussion of expectations, upcoming projects and progress the intern is making. This also allows the intern to ask questions and express concerns.
  • Provide adequate training and supervision to make the internship a real learning experience.
  • Provide the tools, materials and equipment needed for the intern to be able to complete required assignments.
  • Select and train appropriate supervisors and mentors who will guide the intern, assist in skill development and answer questions.
  • Include the student intern in relevant meetings when possible so he/she can gain experience attending and participating in business meetings.
  • Include the intern in company social events to provide networking opportunities.
  • Provide a professional environment that fosters a safe and productive work atmosphere.
  • Conduct business in an ethical manner.
  • Provide a final evaluation at the conclusion of the internship to discuss the intern’s performance and accomplishments, and also to identify strengths and opportunities for continued development.
  • Meet any educational requirements set forth by the student’s home institution if the internship is being taken for academic credit, including providing enough hours, assignments, etc.

Sample timeline

  • First Day/Week: Review work policies and procedures, including hours, breaks, work attire and any relevant guidelines the intern needs to follow. Establish learning objectives with the intern and create a plan of action for meeting these objectives.
  • Midway: Conduct a mid-point evaluation with the intern to review progress made towards the established objectives. Provide performance feedback and identify steps the intern should take to meet all objectives and goals by the internship’s end.
  • Conclusion: Conduct a final review and evaluation.

What are some strategies for supporting interns’ professional development?

These strategies assume that you are paying an intern, so they are functioning as a key member of your organization. If you are sponsoring an unpaid intern, you need to have paid careful attention to the Department of Labor criteria and, ideally, have consulted with internal legal counsel, to ensure that projects are not violating those expectations and criteria.

  • Offer advice and insights that you have gleaned from your own career path.
  • Provide students with opportunities for meaningful hands-on experiences in your workplace – working on a project, being part of a team, contributing to larger goals, etc. Again, if you are sponsoring an unpaid intern you need to have paid careful attention to the Department of Labor criteria and, ideally, have consulted with internal legal counsel.
  • As appropriate and possible, include the intern in meetings with other staff and team members. Provide exposure to multiple facets of your organization, and team members within it.
  • Conduct exit interviews with interns so that it is clear to them what went well, what you see as their strengths and areas where you would suggest additional growth. This type of feedback can also assist you in enhancing your internship program and supporting future interns.
  • Offer to keep in touch with your intern after the internship experience to support him/her as a reference. If you have time/interest, offer support as a mentor.
  • Suggest relevant professional organizations where a student should consider becoming a member, or affiliations and certifications they should seek in order to be successful in your field.

Legal concerns

While designing your internship program, you may need to consider the impact of various legal issues. Contact your organization’s legal counsel if you have questions or need more information. Some of the major legal factors impacting internship programs include:

  • International Students: These students can bring new perspectives to your organization as interns. They bring insight from their own cultures and are eager to experience the professional world in the United States. There are several types of visas granted to international students, most of which allow for the student to work off campus. The International Education Services Office at UMBC will be able to advise the student regarding his/her work authorization status and particular type of student visa. Most students on F-1 visas will enroll in the Career Center PRAC course in order to support their Curricular Practical Training (CPT).
  • Intellectual Property: Interns may be required to work on projects where intellectual property rights are a concern. Typically, if new employees would be asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement, an intern may be asked to do so as well. If you are concerned, seek legal counsel on how to proceed.
  • Benefits and Insurance: Benefits are not typically offered to interns, since internships are usually short-term. Most students will have insurance coverage through their colleges or universities, or will be covered under their parents’ policies. If you have questions regarding benefits and insurance, contact your legal counsel.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity: Federal and state regulations regarding equal employment opportunities apply to the employment of interns as well as full-time employees. For additional information, contact your human resources department or legal counsel.

What if my question isn’t covered here?

Please contact:

Sue Plitt
Associate Director, Employer Relations and Recruitment Programs
plitt@umbc.edu
or Kacie Lawrence
Associate Director, Internships and Employment
klawrence@umbc.edu

 

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