What qualifies as an internship?

An internship, paid or unpaid, is a supervised, career-related learning experience.  It is designed to enable students to explore a career field for potential fit and gain professional skills while contributing to an organization's mission and goals. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) uses the following definition:

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.

Interns enrolled in the Go Intern program should receive training and regular supervision and feedback throughout the duration of their internship from a supervisor designated in each intern’s application and learning agreement.

The Go Intern program uses the Fair Labor Standards Act internship criteria when evaluating internship proposals for unpaid internship experiences. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, an unpaid internship must meet the following criteria:

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff.

For the full six criteria, please see the US Department of Labor website.