An internship is a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Internships give students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths; and give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent (source: National Association of Colleges and Employers).
To ensure that an experience is educational, and thus eligible to be considered a legitimate internship, all the following criteria must be met:
- 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.
For experiences in which the student is also earning academic credit, the college or university's requirements in combination with the criteria laid out above will be used to determine if the experience is a legitimate internship.
Students can complete an internship with or without enrolling in a credit-bearing internship course, depending on the employer requirements. Internships can be paid or unpaid (see Unpaid Internships for more details about the law on this). Five Brandywine majors have a required internship component. Students in the other majors can sometimes opt to take an internship course for credit and must contact the Internship Coordinator for their major for more details.
To learn more, view the following:
Unpaid Internships - the 7 Factor Test for Unpaid Interns as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act
Internships at our State Capitol through Penn State Harrisburg