Internship Definition and Policies

 

Internship Definition

The Career Development Center supports the following definition of an internship. Please note that this may be different from other academic departments on campus.  

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. Additionally, in a formal, structured program with faculty supervision, there is the opportunity to improve the curriculum and impact academic research.

This definition closely mirrors the definition by the National Association of Colleges and Employers published in their Position Statement on U.S. Internships.  

Paid vs. Unpaid

In April 2010 the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, redefined its standing on unpaid internships with specific regard to for-profit organizations. There was a 6-part test in which all conditions had to be met in order for it to be unpaid with a for-profit organization.  This resulted in numerous lawsuits.

In January 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division updated its policy with a 7-part "primary benificiary test". The DOL states, "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."

Additional Information:

Career Center Stance on Unpaid Internships with For-Profits

We encourage all employers to pay their interns; having students work without pay puts lower socioeconomic students at a disadvantage. If you are a for-profit entity recruiting unpaid interns through Handshake, you must include a thorough description of how the position meets the US Department of Labor's 7-part beneficiary test. The Career Development Center maintains the right to deny any posting deemed not in the best interest of our students.

Cooperative Education Definition

What is the definition of Cooperative Education (Co-ops) and how are they different from internships?
Cooperative Education is similar in definition to internships in that both are a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Both 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.Additionally, in a formal, structured program with faculty supervision, there is the opportunity to improve the curriculum and impact academic research.

How Are Co-ops Different from Internships?
A co-op position:

  • Is always paid.
  • Always involves multiple semesters - minimum of two, usually three semesters.
  • Is always for academic credit. The credit is given for the learning, not the work. Thus experience must be related to the student's major of study and future career goals. Future terms must build on experience gained from the first term with increased responsibilities and increased opportunity for learning.
  • May be alternating or parallel.
    • Alternating - Student alternates semesters of full-time work with full-time study. Alternating students maintain their full-time student status while working. Students may take classes during their working term if their work schedule allows.
    • Parallel - Student works part-time while enrolled in classes full-time.

Does MTSU Offer Co-ops?
The University has co-op credit courses.  The Career Development Center will post co-op positions.  The awarding of academic credit is arranged between the student and the academic department. The CDC does not award credit. MTSU does not have a separate Co-op Office.

Why Should I Hire Interns?

NACE cite's the current conversion rate for interns at 66.4%- imagine how much money is saved in training and onboarding costs! Consider starting an internship program to help find future employees, increase your visibility on MTSU's campus, and help give students the a jumpstart to their career. Logon to app.handshake.com now to post your internships with MTSU!

 

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