Accepting Internships

You’ve Been Offered an Internship! Great! Now What?

Undertaking an internship off campus is an exciting, if daunting, prospect. Career Works, however, is available to help you apply and develop your strengths in a new environment, and to do so safely and professionally.

1. Find out if your internship is paid or unpaid.

Compensation for internships undertaken in the U.S. must comply with U.S federal law. This means that for-profit organizations with 50 employees or more must either pay their interns or provide educational structures to ensure that interns are receiving educational training and benefits.

Thus, for-profit organizations with more than 50 employees offering unpaid internships must:

  • Make it clear that you won’t receive compensation and you are not an employee of the organization.
  • Provide training similar to that given in an educational environment.
  • Tie your internship to your education, either through integrated coursework or academic credit.
  • Accommodate your academic calendar.
  • Host a short-term internship and not an ongoing job.
  • Complement the work of existing employees, rather than displacing paid employees.
  • Make it clear that the internship does not come with the expectation or entitlement of a future paid job at the end of the internship.

Following these regulations is in the interest of smaller for-profit organizations as well non-profit organizations, because they make for strong educational experiences.

2. If you will be paid, determine how.

Most internships should be non-exempt, which means that you are paid hourly and that you are entitled to overtime if you exceed the number of hours considered full-time work. This varies from state to state, so check the laws in the state that your internship is in. Ask about the overtime policies at the organization and the pay schedule before accepting the internship.

Some organizations may ask to pay you as an independent contractor or with a stipend. This means that they will not withhold any taxes from your payroll, and you will be responsible for paying state and federal taxes on your wages when you pay taxes in the spring. It also means that you are paid a flat rate and that you won’t earn overtime.

3. Save the job description.

Written job descriptions are key to understanding the responsibilities of the internship and the supervisor’s expectations. Do not rely on the job ad and interview alone.

4. Create a schedule for the internship.

Before you accept the internship, make sure that you and your supervisor agree to your start and end dates, your scheduled hours, and the policies for requesting time off and paid/unpaid breaks during the day.

Ask your supervisor about key deadlines you’ll need to meet as an intern.

5. Register for internship credit.

Beloit College offers two different credit options, each with unique benefits. If you need help deciding between the two, make an appointment with a Career Works staff member on Handshake.

Important Note: You must register for credit before your internship begins.

Questions? Need help?

Whether during or after your internship, Career Works staff are available to help you think through questions related to your internship, reflect on what you learned, identify post-internship connections, and help you develop the narratives that will best market your experience to future employers and grad schools. We’re here to listen and help!

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