The Career Center is a leader in experiential education and thrives on facilitating connections between students and employers. With more than 91% of AU undergraduates and 56% of graduate students completing one or more internships before graduation, our career advisors are adept in helping students to identify and maximize meaningful internships. Advisors’ recommendations for students translate into best practices for employers.
View internships as unique learning experiences for budding professionals. Design your program in a way that enables students to test lessons learned in class, become aware of their obligations as professionals and to the public, and acquaint themselves with different work environments.
Offer challenging assignments that result in beneficial outcomes for your organization and tangible work samples or valuable experience for your interns.
SUPERVISION AND MENTORSHIP
Before recruiting an intern, ensure the internship supervisor understands their role as a mentor. Consider adapting this sample mentor agreement, developed by our colleague Ross Herosian, to start the conversation. Ensure that your interns have a space to work prior to their first day. Communicate openly and often and share constructive feedback so that your interns hone their skills and meet or exceed your expectations. Also, expose your interns to the inner workings of your organization and share industry insights so that students may affirm or modify their career aspirations.
Create a positive learning environment in which your interns may test their classroom theories. Credit-bearing internships must include a minimum of 85% substantive duties and no more than 15% clerical tasks. Internships must extend for a minimum of 14 weeks and require at least five (5) hours of work per week. Workplace evaluations account for 25-50% of students’ final grades.
At American University, students may earn both academic credit and compensation for their internships. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to provide competitive hourly wages or stipends to help students defray the ever-increasing costs of living and tuition.
As a nonprofit or government employer offering unpaid internships, try to include value-added opportunities such as structured mentoring programs, specialized training, access to special events, and complimentary meals. If you are a for-profit organization offering unpaid internships, we expect you to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act, particularly as it relates to internships.