Students at Career Fair



Designing An Internship

How to Implement a Successful Internship or Co-op Program

Designing An Internship:

  • Identify need: Projects, uncompleted work, seasonal events, etc.
  • Create a highly educational and vocational student opportunity: Specify skills and previous academic work required.
  • Appoint an on-site mentor, supervisor, or manager to oversee the intern
  • Consider Compensation: Average wage is $8.95-15.00 per hour, although this varies. NOTE: There are legal limitations on unpaid internships with for-profit employers.
  • Time Required Per Week: 10-15 hours is typical during school year, up to full-time in summer.
  • Determine Duration of Internship: one term (typical for unpaid internships), 6 months, summer, full year.


Compensation for time spent in an internship depends upon the employer and/or the project. Some government and non-profit-related organizations offer unpaid internships, while most for-profit internships are paid, although there are exceptions. Typical wages range from $8.50 - $15/hr.

Unpaid internships with for-profit companies are subject to Federal Labor Laws which are meant to distinguish an intern from a volunteer or an employee, and to also emphasize to the employer the necessary educational and legal aspects of an internship.

In addition to observing state and federal mandated labor laws, Advising & Career Services uses the following guidelines to ensure that all unpaid internships are meaningful, educational opportunities for our students, and that any unpaid internships with for-profit companies are within the legal confines as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act. The following guidelines are derived from the National Association of Colleges & Employers criteria for unpaid internships.

Guidelines For Unpaid Internships:

  • The Internship is highly educational and will primarily benefit the Intern
  • Learning objectives are established with the intern before beginning the internship and are revisited regularly to ensure ongoing objectives are being met
  • The Intern is supervised throughout the internship and is not the on-site expert for any project or task
  • The Intern should not displace a paid employee
  • The Employer derives no immediate financial advantage from the Intern (i.e.; no selling)
  • No more the 30% of the Intern's time should be spent on clerical or repetitive tasks
  • The internship is a substantial learning experience, such that a faculty member would approve the internship as worthy of academic credit
  • NOTE to FOR-PROFIT Employers: We recommend that unpaid/non-credit internships are limited to only one academic term or 3 months. This will ensure you comply with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

Duration of Internships and number of hours per week:

Internships are usually one term in duration, but occasionally longer depending upon the employer or project. The length of an internship is flexible, but should be agreed upon by both the student and the employer early in the process. Most internship’s are designed to follow the academic calendar and will involve working on a project which lasts throughout a term, others may be designed to span the summer months when many students are not enrolled in classes. An optimal work week is 10-15 hours, but some internship’s during summer months may be full-time.

On the Job Mentoring and Supervision:

Working closely with a supervisor or mentor at a job site is what helps make an internship valuable for a student. It provides regular opportunities to focus on learning objectives, and develop new job-related skills. It will also likely result in an experience that benefit both the student and the employer.

Interns can benefit an Employer by offering fresh perspectives, current academic training, creative new ideas, and enthusiasm for their areas of interest.

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For inquiries please contact:

Angela Coloretti McGough
Director of Career Services
Student Support Services 102
(808) 735-4787

Janis Chang
Job Placement Coordinator
Student Support Services 104
(808) 739-4654

The Career Services office is part of the
Division of Student Affairs