In most cases, an internship must be a minimum of ten hours per week over the course of ten weeks.
Training and Supervision
An organization must provide on-site “expert” training and supervision for their intern (examples: a Marketing Director supervising a Marketing Intern; a Payroll Manager supervising an Accounting Intern). The internship supervisor must meet with the student intern to negotiate the student’s learning objectives, i.e. identify the skills and outcomes that can later be inserted into the student’s resume.
A common question when creating internships is whether an employer must pay an intern for his/her work. The U.S. Department of Labor developed six criteria for differentiating between an employee entitled to at least minimum wage (as set forth under the Fair Labor Standards Act) or a learner/trainee who may be unpaid. While not all six factors have to be present for an individual to be considered a trainee, the experience should ultimately look more like a training/learning experience than a job.
- The training is similar to that which would be given in a vocational school.
- The training is for the benefit of the students.
- The intern cannot do work that would otherwise be done by a paid employees, and must work under the close supervision of a manager.
- The employer derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the students.
- The employer must not promise up front a paid job at the conclusion of the internship. It's OK to offer a job once the internship ends.
- The employer and the student must agree if no wages are to be paid. It's best to put this understanding in writing, and have both parties sign the paper.
Since 80% of SPU students work in addition to taking classes, adding an unpaid internship is difficult. A paid internship will increase your applicant pool and expand interns’ commitment and focus. Even in unpaid internships, students appreciate some form of compensation such as a stipend to defray tuition fees, a bus pass, or breakfast/lunch at a professional meeting.
The majority of the intern’s work should be done on-site, not out of the student intern’s residence. Exceptions to this must have prior approval by CCC staff. Interns should have a designated work area and the use of a company computer and phone if appropriate.
Hold Harmless Agreements
Because of the concern over liability during internships, some employers may ask that SPU/CCC and/or the student sign a hold-harmless or indemnity agreement. In some cases, employers may ask students to sign a release of liability as a condition to accepting the internship. It is the policy of Seattle Pacific University that we will NOT sign these types of agreements. Below, please find guidelines of professional principals and more information developed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers on this subject.
- Hold Harmless Agreements– Principles for Professional Conduct
The National Association of Colleges and Employers addresses the ethical issues regarding hold harmless agreements as they relate to internships.
- Case Study: Sign on the Dotted Line
Detailed information on issues surrounding Indemnity and Hold Harmless agreements.
SPU will not approve or post internships that operate from a home office or include personal errands as part of the job description.
SPU will not approve or post sales internships where students are required to use their own personal network to generate leads.
SPU will not approve or post internships that charge a fee or that require the student to purchase equipment or to make an initial financial investment in the company.
Note: Final approval of internships is at the discretion of the supervising faculty sponsor.