Imagine if you had an opportunity to road-test the knowledge and skills that you are building while completing your degree program. Wouldn’t it be helpful to apply them while actually working for a company? And as an added bonus, have an opportunity to meet others working in your chosen field, with whom you can network? Internships are your chance to further your career development BEFORE you graduate.
Internships are the perfect opportunity to get real-world experience, while getting a better picture of how the world of business operates and how you'll fit into it. Internships last anywhere from a few weeks to a semester, and are often paid. Companies hire interns to do real work -- not staple papers and get coffee -- although those are necessary tasks too.
A UC Clermont internship can be counted for academic credit if your program provides that option. Check with your advisor to find out if internships for credit are available for your program.
In addition to internships, there are other forms of experiential learning opportunities including fieldwork, practicums and more. Our Career Vocabulary page provides more detail on these and other career terms.
An internship is an experience where a student works as a member of an organization in order to gain real work experience.
According to the National Association of College and Employers (NACE), internships must meet seven criteria. These include:
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.
Internships are designed to help you learn more about your career field, what the culture of the company is, and what the proper etiquette is for that company. It gives you the ability to “test drive” a career path. Internships normally last for several weeks which gives you the ability to apply what you’ve learned in the classroom as well as build your skill set. Networking is also a large benefit to having an internship. During that time you can find mentors and future references. Some internships also offer college credit.
The FLSA requires “for-profit” employers to pay employees for their work. Interns and students, however, may not be “employees” under the FLSA — in which case the FLSA does not require compensation for their work.
Courts have used the “primary beneficiary test” to determine whether an intern or student is, in fact, an employee under the FLSA.2 In short, this test allows courts to examine the “economic reality” of the intern-employer relationship to determine which party is the “primary beneficiary” of the relationship. Courts have identified the following seven factors as part of the test:
- 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.
- 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.
- The extent to which the internship is tied to the intern’s formal education program by integrated coursework or the receipt of academic credit.
- The extent to which the internship accommodates the intern’s academic commitments by corresponding to the academic calendar.
- The extent to which the internship’s duration is limited to the period in which the internship provides the intern with beneficial learning.
- 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.
- 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.
Courts have described the “primary beneficiary test” as a flexible test, and no single factor is determinative. Accordingly, whether an intern or student is an employee under the FLSA necessarily depends on the unique circumstances of each case.
If analysis of these circumstances reveals that an intern or student is actually an employee, then he or she is entitled to both minimum wage and overtime pay under the FLSA. On the other hand, if the analysis confirms that the intern or student is not an employee, then he or she is not entitled to either minimum wage or overtime pay under the FLSA.
Practicums and field placements are field experiences that allow a student to observe and document how working professionals perform their job responsibilities. Participation at the practicum/field placement site is typically two or three times per week for a few hours per session. Students will also participate in performing limited tasks under supervision by program professors and on-site staff. At the same time, students enroll in a course which outlines the expectations and requirements of the practicum. No pay is expected for a practicum or field placement, but it does qualify for academic credit.
Is your business interested in hiring a UC Clermont intern? Please contact the EXCITE Center to discuss all the details. Interns are available during all semesters.