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Developing a New Internship

If you have never hired an intern before, here is some advice on how to develop an internship.

For you convenience find the below information in a .pdf document
Developing a New Internship (.pdf)

Internship Process

Step 1 – Identify who will supervise/mentor the intern

The intern will need a Supervisor to be assigned prior to the intern's start date. The Supervisor should have the ability and time to:

  • Ensure that the intern is learning and that his/her time is occupied
  • Help the intern to network with other employees
  • Communicate the intern's learning role to other employees and integrate the intern into the workplace
  • Conduct periodic evaluations throughout the internship – provide feedback and guidance
  • Communicate with the Bellevue College Internship Coordinator about any key issues that need to be addressed

An ideal supervisor/mentor will have the following traits:

  • Patience
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Interest in being a role model for the intern
  • Interest in helping the intern grow professionally

TIP: Consider choosing someone within your company to serve as an internal Internship Coordinator. This will allow for more consistency as interns leave and new interns begin.

Step 2 – Make sure you have physical and financial resources

Physical Resources:

Make sure that you have a workspace and equipment for the intern, such as a computer with internet connection, telephone, etc.

Financial Resources:

An intern can be paid or unpaid. However, since many students at Bellevue College are paying for all or part of their college expenses, meaningful internships that provide a stipend or hourly wage are highly sought after. Hourly wages vary by industry. We're happy to discus standard wages for your industry. If you cannot pay an hourly wage, you may consider offering a one-time or monthly stipend to help offset the intern's time and travel expenses.

Equal Employment Opportunity laws apply to the hiring of student interns. Please provide interns with your organization’s safety and harassment policies, as employers may be held liable for intern safety and harassment issues. We recommend that you work directly with your organization’s legal counsel and/or contact Human Resources Department as your first resource regarding compensation and other legal issues. The Department of Labor allows interns to be unpaid if the following criteria as a "learner/trainee" are ALL met (NACE Spotlight 2007):

  • The training must be comparable to that given at a vocational school
  • The training must benefit the student
  • The students would not replace regular employees
  • The employer does not immediately benefit from the student’s activities
  • There is not a promise of a job following the training
  • Employer and student understand that no wages will be given for the training period

If the above criteria are not met, interns must be paid at least minimum wage. Often, a higher wage elicits stronger student interest in the internship.

Step 3 – Decide what the intern will do

Successful internships are often centered on a specific project which can be completed by the end of the internship. This helps the employer get work done and allows the intern to feel a sense of accomplishment. Keep in mind that the intern likely won't be as qualified, skilled, or experienced as a more seasoned employee would be. When deciding what the intern will do, be mindful of the time you will need to devote to his/her learning. Don't overload the intern with too much responsibility, but don't just assign mundane tasks.

Plan for time to:

  • Train the intern and familiarize him/her with the layout and organization of the company
  • Explain the goals and the overall purpose of his/her tasks
  • Explain the level of interaction with supervisors, managers, and others involved in completing the tasks
  • Articulate your expectations for the final product (and any milestones), as well as the expected completion date

Consider offering opportunities for the intern to attend management and/or staff meetings or job shadow in different departments. Allow interns to feel valued and included by providing invaluable networking opportunities.

Step 4 – Determine a work schedule

Students need to know how many hours a week they will be expected to work, as well as the length of the commitment. It is fine to be flexible, but in your internship announcement, please indicate a minimum number of hours per week that you expect. This will lessen confusion and help you get an appropriate response to your ad. Once you've hired an intern, including this information on the intern's Training Agreement form will also ensure that your expectations and the intern's expectations match.

Step 5 – Write a Job Description

When developing your internship description, include the following:

  • Specific duties the intern will be responsible for completing
  • Knowledge, skills, and qualities you are looking for in an intern
  • Schedule the intern will be required to work (or if the schedule is flexible)
  • Application deadline and desired start date
  • Compensation amount
  • Required documents (resume, cover letter, application, etc.)
  • Information about how you would like them to apply (online, via email, etc.)

Here are some tips for writing an effective job description:

  • The clearer you can be about an intern’s role and the contributions expected, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to identify the right skill set and have positive results.
  • Explain what your business does and how many employees you have. If a small business can demonstrate that it wants to provide an educational and active learning experience for a student, it will make itself far more attractive than a large company that is going to require that a student to lick envelopes for three months.

TIP: If you're looking for an intern with previous knowledge and skills, be specific about what they need to know. If you say that you're looking for a junior or senior, many Bellevue College students will think they aren't eligible. However, the BC student population is very diverse. Many of our "freshmen" and "sophomores" have previous professional / work / life experience and are often more qualified than a traditional college freshman or sophomore. Some already have a Bachelor's or Master's degree!

Step 6 – Meet with us to discuss your needs

Please contact us to schedule a time to meet with us to discuss your position and the Bellevue College Academic Internship Program. The meeting will help us understand your needs, which will help us when promoting your internship to our students. It will also ensure a quality learning experience for potential interns. At your convenience, we can schedule a time to meet at your organization.

Once you've developed the internship, the next step will be to post the position on the CONNECT! web site. See the Posting an Internship section for instructions.