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Hosting an Intern: What Are the Requirements Anyway?

Hosting an Intern blog post series part three (see two and three).


I receive multiple calls weekly from organizations considering a college intern at their organization, but are not sure about the “rules”. For each of these calls I receive, the conversation follows a very similar set of responses:

Q: What are the [insert college of your choice] requirements for me to post an internship with your institution?

A: Very few colleges or universities have an institution-wide set of requirements for internships (i.e., number of hours required, location, type of work, paid vs. unpaid, etc.), therefore organizations are welcome to post an internship job posting with an institution’s career center to get the ball rolling to find potential candidates who will find a mutually beneficial experience at your organization. An increasing number of college students do seek academic credit for internships during their time in school, but the individual requirements for internships-for-credit are typically program or major-based and can vary widely.

Quick Tip: Connect directly with the individuals and offices responsible for coordinating internships at the schools and departments within our local universities and colleges with ConnectVA’s Connect to Students!

Q: What is the difference between a volunteer and an intern?

A: For nonprofit organizations, this is a very common question because our organizations work with both types of roles most of the time. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the professional organization that guides the work of college career centers and the employers who hire college students and graduates, 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.”  Click here to read NACE’s full position statement on US Internships.

Q: When do I have to pay an intern?

A: There has been a lot of media attention about unpaid internships over the past few years and it can be difficult to follow the ins-and-outs of intern compensation. While it is good practice to pay an intern for work if possible, but that is not always the reality for the budgets of nonprofit organizations. Currently, the US Department of Labor Standards Act Fact Sheet #71 states: “Unpaid internships in the public sector and for nonprofit charitable organizations, where the intern volunteers without expectations of compensation are generally permissible. US Wage and Hour Division is reviewing the need for additional guidance on internships in the public and nonprofit sectors.”

Connect directly with the individuals and offices responsible for coordinating internships in the schools and departments within our region’s universities and colleges with ConnectVA’s Connect to Students.

And make sure to:

– Register for Internship Bootcamp on January 9th with ConnectVA, UofR and VCU

– Attend the second annual Regional Nonprofit Career and Internship Fair with VCU and ConnectVA on February 19th to find talent for your organization


ConnectVA Guest Blogger: Joslyn Bedell, Associate Director for Employer & Experiential Development, University Career Center at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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