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What Is an Internship?

Internships may be full time or part time, paid or unpaid, a few weeks or a full year in length, for undergraduate or graduate students, local or international. Internships are vehicles for students to obtain pre-professional work, linking their academic studies to their career aspirations. Interns should be given significant work to do for the organization, with minimal hours of tasks such as filing and copying. This expectation differs from a part-time hire who is paid for performing whatever tasks the employer assigns, menial or not.

In certain circumstances, internships may be unpaid as long as they represent a legitimate training experience for the student.  To ensure that such experiences comply with federal regulations, the National Association of Colleges and Employers has suggested that employers apply the following guidelines:

  • 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.

Please refer to the Department of Labor's website and consult your legal counsel if you have questions. The University of Hartford strongly encourages employers to pay the interns.

There are limited opportunities for students to receive credit for their internships, and those that exist require that tuition be paid.