Definition of an Internship
The word “internship” does not designate any specific structure. Internships can be paid or unpaid, for credit or not for credit, or some combination of the above. An internship typically refers to a one-time, short-term experience related to a student’s major or career interest. Internships typically involve a student working in a professional setting under the supervision and monitoring of practicing professionals. (Adapted from the National Association of Colleges and Employers)
At Harvey Mudd College, students cannot receive credit for an internship. Most HMC students are usually paid for their positions; however, this is not a requirement. When an internship is paid, it establishes a formalized framework for learning and affirms the value of the actual work the intern completes while providing the employer with a larger candidate pool from which to select an intern.
A Harvey Mudd intern will bring value to the internship organization and we expect that the organizations are invested in the career exploration and professional development of the student. As such, a mutually beneficial, career-related experience will involve:
- The student’s education is at the center of the internship. When an internship builds on classroom learning, it provides the student with an opportunity to develop career-related competencies and to reflect on their internship experience in relation to their career development.
- Students contribute to the organization in a value-added, meaningful way. They want to learn about organizational structure, engage with a variety of professionals and receive insight into pertinent topics.
- The intern receives regular and on-going supervision, feedback, coaching, and mentoring. The foundation of a strong internship experience rests with supervision. Providing an orientation, setting clear expectations, engaging in regular follow-up, and providing feedback are essential components of a great internship experience for both student and employer.
The best internships are mutually beneficial for both the employer and the intern. Interns infuse new talent and creative energy into the workplace and provide employers an opportunity to preview future candidates. For students, an internship is an opportunity to test out a potential career field and gain career-related experience in an area of interest.
Being respectful a student’s schedule is important. HMC students work to balance a full course load with co-curricular activities, work, athletics, etc. It is beneficial when an internship employer demonstrates flexibility in arranging a schedule.
Doing Internships Well: Points to Consider
- What does your organization need and how can an intern contribute in a meaningful way?
- What professional development opportunities will your organization provide an intern?
- Do you have the resources to appropriately support an intern?
- Is there a space for the student to work?
- Are there relevant legal consideration? Consult with your attorney to determine if there are applicable legal issues related to recruiting and retaining an intern.
It’s important to put thought into developing an internship description as you would any other job description. Here are some components that are helpful to students:
- Overview of organization and/or department
- Summary of responsibilities/tasks associated with the internship
- Summary of desired and/or required qualifications
- Application process: timeline, deadline, required materials
Contact us if you need further help.
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Internship Position Statement
Read about our position statement on U.S. internships (PDF).
Hiring International Students for Internships
Minimal Paperwork for the Employer
There is little paperwork for an employer who hires F-1 or J-1 students for summer internships. At Harvey Mudd College, we simply require a letter of intent to hire the student for an internship on the employer’s letter head.The paperwork is handled by the students and the school. F-1 or J-1 students who are doing a summer internship will be authorized for Curricular Practical Training/CPT (F-1) or Academic Training (J-1) by the school. For CPT, the school will make a notation on the students’ copy of the I-20 form indicating that CPT has been authorized, and specifying the duration and place of employment. Academic training for J-1 students is authorized by the school by issuing a letter indicating that academic training has been authorized.