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Internship Guidelines for Employers

Internships are paid or unpaid experiences that allow students the opportunity to integrate and apply their academic coursework into a professional work situation, and to gain valuable experience and skills.


Internships are generally 10–20 hours per week for 10 weeks during the academic year, and part- to full-time during the summer.


Internships are training/learning experiences, and can be paid or unpaid. However, since 80 percent of SPU students work in addition to taking classes, adding an unpaid internship to their schedule is often difficult. A paid internship will increase your applicant pool, will provide financial support for students, and can create a stronger sense of loyalty and investment. 

Even in unpaid internships, students appreciate bus or parking passes to help with transportation costs or an occasional meal. Organizations sponsoring internships should be sure they understand applicable laws affecting internships so that they can determine whether an intern should be treated as an employee of the organization, how much an intern needs to be paid (if at all), and what type of tax reporting or withholding (if any) is required. With respect to federal wage and hour rules for internships, the U.S. Department of Labor posted its fact sheet on “Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act” in April 2010. Other helpful commentary about internship programs and legal issues is often available in whitepapers produced by Intern Bridge, Inc.

Work Site

The majority of the intern’s work should be done onsite, not out of the student intern’s residence. Interns should have a designated work area, the use of a company computer, and a phone, if appropriate. Internships may not operate out of a home office. (See Recruiting Policy).

Training and Supervision

An organization must provide onsite “expert” training and supervision for its 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 and provide ongoing feedback. For additional information on supporting interns’ professional development, see the National Association of Colleges and Employers’  “15 Best Practices for Internship Programs.”

Liability Matters

In the past, some organizations have asked that Seattle Pacific University sign a hold-harmless or indemnity agreement. It is the policy of Seattle Pacific University not to sign these types of agreements or assume any liability for claims, injuries, or damages related to a student’s participation in an internship.

Final approval of internships is at the discretion of the supervising faculty sponsor.