How Do I Design an Internship?

Being thoughtful and intentional as you design your internship opportunity can mean a more successful and satisfying experience for all involved. We encourage you to consult the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ resources on internship best practices as you are building and conceptualizing your opportunity: 15 Best Practices for Internship Programs.

How to Write an Effective Internship Posting:

  • Keep it simple.
  • Use keywords that attract students.
  • Specify paid or unpaid. If paid, state the payment details.
  • Review internship postings for examples.
  • Include an overview of the job, including potential projects and tasks that could be assigned.
  • List expected outcomes for the position.
  • Include a list of required skills and qualifications.

Should I pay an intern?

Although not currently an official requirement to post an internship with our office, we expect that for-profit corporations will pay UMBC interns and strongly encourage them to do so. Most unpaid internships in for-profit companies are not approved in our Handshake system. Paid internships encourage application, provide financial support for students while they are attending school and create a stronger feeling of loyalty, investment and accountability for an intern. Please see NACE’s position statement on how unpaid internships are a barrier to achieving equity and opportunity for all college students.

While academic credit can be seen by some companies as an alternate form of compensation, many students do not value academic credit as a compensatory option, since they have to pay and register for academic credits. Organizations also cannot offer credit as compensation – decisions regarding the awarding of academic credit are solely within the purview of UMBC faculty. While there are not any current legal requirement that interns be paid, if you are offering an unpaid internship you need to ensure that your unpaid internship is in compliance with the US Department of Labor’s “Test for Unpaid Interns”: Internship Programs Under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Specific questions around legality related to internship payment should be directed to your legal counsel.

If I am paying an intern, what is an average hourly wage?

An hourly wage for an intern will vary widely, depending on the industry in which you work, the major or skillset of the student you are recruiting and his or her level of experience. Internships can range from minimum wage for some roles and up to $22 or more an hour for more technical skillsets. An hourly wage cannot be less than minimum wage for the state in which the student will be working.

What is the Intern/Research/Co-op PRAC course at UMBC? Does this count as academic credit?

Intern/Research/Co-op PRAC is a 0 credit Internship Practicum Course. By enrolling in PRAC, a student’s official transcript will provide a record of their participation in a University-approved internship/co-op/research program. Students complete learning objectives, participate in professional development workshops, and evaluate their work to further learn from their internship experiences. You can view a copy of the PRAC syllabus here. The Intern/Research/Co-op PRAC alone does not count as academic credit and there are still departments that do not offer credit for internships as an option. However, many departments require PRAC in order for students to proceed with academic credit. All students at UMBC who are participating in internships, co-ops or research are encouraged to enroll in PRAC in the semester they are completing the work. Retroactive enrollments in PRAC are not permitted.

How does an intern receive academic credit from UMBC?

A student registers (and pays for) internship credits just as they would any academic courses that provide credit. It is the student’s responsibility to initiate this process through their academic department or through the Career Center. To initiate this process, we encourage students to contact the Career Center for support. While all students may not have the option to take academic credit, all students can enroll in the Career Center’s Intern/Research/Co-op PRAC course.

What is my role in the process if I am supporting a student in PRAC or academic credit?

When a student is enrolled in PRAC, the supervisor is expected to help the student set learning objectives and an action plan/goals to complete during their internship. A mid-semester reflection discussion to revisit learning goals, expectations, and progress between student and supervisor is highly suggested and asked for as a course requirement. Finally, all supervisors of students enrolled in the Career Center PRAC will receive an electronic evaluation from Handshake to be completed at the end of each semester you host the student.

Additional requirements will vary based on the department through which the student is earning the credit. The student will be responsible for communicating to you the role you play as it relates to their specific department/credit-earning process.

How many hours a week should an intern work?

As much as possible, an internship should be flexible in nature, as it is generally something a student pursues while also taking classes. During the academic year, internships are typically part-time, between 10-20 hours a week; not to exceed 20 hours a week (September-May). Summer internships, or those during a semester in which the student is not enrolled in courses, can require up to 40 hours a week. Please note that we strongly encourage internships that require more than 20 hours/week of students to be paid on an hourly or stipend basis, regardless of industry. Offering an unpaid full-time summer internship will likely result in no applicants, as most students cannot commit that amount of time to an unpaid opportunity.

How many weeks or months is a typical internship?

An average internship is 3-4 months coinciding with a student’s typical semester or summer. A key factor in determining proper internship length is that an internship should be long enough for a student to get into the rhythm of the position and complete deliverables that are valuable to you and them.

Season Beginning Date End Date Avg. # of Hours / Week
Fall Mid Aug.-Mid Oct. Mid-December 10-20
Winter Mid Dec.- Early Jan. Early February 20-40+
Spring Early February Mid May 10-20
Summer Mid May- Early July Mid August 20-40+

How can I find the best possible intern?

Look beyond a student’s major or class level. Consider how a student’s overall profile and experience match the qualities, skills and other requirements of the position. Consult the Career Center for ways to get your internship announcement in front of students and increase your candidate pool.

How do I advertise my internship to UMBC students?

A key way to advertise your internship is through UMBC’s online job and internship board, Handshake, which is used by students and alumni from a wide variety of degrees and programs. You may also wish to participate in a career fair or recruitment event. A full list of events is available on the Career Fairs and Events page

How do I get my internship approved by UMBC?

Once your internship is posted to Handshake, the position will be reviewed and approved by staff. We will contact you if there are any questions or concerns. You will be notified via email once your position is approved.

When should I post my position(s)?

While internships may be posted at any time of year, below are our recommendations for timing to maximize your exposure to our students. Once you have made your hiring decisions, we appreciate you emailing us with the names of hired students so we may reach out to them regarding academic credit and transcript recordation.

Semester Post Position by Report hires to UMBC by
Fall July 15 September 20
Winter September 15 December 20
Spring October 15 February 20
Summer January 15 June 20



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