Learn How to Develop an Effective Internship Program

Internship Program

An internship should meet the following:

  • Offer the opportunity to observe and contribute in the workplace
  • Provide training, either ‘formal’ or on-the-job
  • Work on a specific project, which has been assigned by a designated manager/supervisor
  • Participate in rotational assignments through different departments to gain an understanding of the “big picture”
  • Network with other members of the organization
  • Identify skills and gain practical work experience
  • Receive performance feedback and mentorship throughout the internship

Typical Internship Program Characteristics


Completed during an academic semester or summer for a minimum of 6 weeks


8 – 15 hours/week (Paid, full-time internships may be offered during the summer).


Starting at minimum wage – $25+/hour based on experience and industry/field

Guidelines for an Internship Program

Initial Preparation

  • Build a pipeline of student candidates to potentially convert to full-time employees
  • Consider the organization’s ability to provide meaningful work assignments
  • Take into account the organization’s ability to provide monetary compensation and office space
  • Invest time in interns through selection, training, supervision, and evaluation
  • Identify a staff member who would enjoy and benefit from working and mentoring an intern, who is committed to and capable of providing structure and constructive feedback
  • Develop individual expectations, goals, and learning objectives for the intern
  • Discuss upcoming intern projects and activities in addition to time commitment

During an Internship

  • Orient the intern to your work site through a tour. Acquaint the intern to the mission, vision, and policies of your company (un/written and un/spoken).
  • Set specific professional and career goals for the internship
  • Teach the intern about the working world and consider serving as a mentor
  • Explain the organizational structure and illustrate the company culture
  • Schedule a formal appointment to discuss progress and expectations for your projects
  • Provide other colleagues with background information about the intern’s projects and responsibilities
  • Meet regularly to discuss the projects and expected outcomes (Decide on start and end dates)
  • Schedule a mid-semester evaluation and an exit interview with the intern to provide a forum for constructive feedback and questions

Additional Resources

Best Practices from National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)

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