Evaluating Employers for internships
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 that they are considering for career paths; internships also give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent.
While internships are tremendously valuable to one’s professional development, an internship should not come at the cost of ethical or legal problems.
The good news is that most employers are great at crafting internship programs and navigating their relationship with you, the intern.
You want to ensure that your internship-employer relationship will benefit you and not present unnecessary challenges. In addition to working through the questions on this page, we highly recommend reading our Detecting Fraud guide for extra tips on staying alert.
is the employer legitimate?
Do they have a website with an address, employee names, email addresses affiliated with the organization, and detailed contact information? Tip: who.is is a good resource you can use to determine if a website is credible.
Can you locate the address using Google Maps? Is it a commercial property that matches the employer description?
Does the company have a LinkedIn page? How many employees are listed and do they have photos? Does the number of employees seem appropriate for this type of organization?
what are the employer's intentions?
Is the internship position description detailed with clear learning objectives?
Will there be a subject matter expert or experts who oversee your learning?
Can you find an overview of their internship program or plan on their website?
Does the employer have a history of working with college students?
Is the employer transparent regarding compensation prior to offering you the position? Avoid working at for-profit companies that do not offer compensation. Non-profits and government agencies can offer unpaid internships because they are allowed to have volunteers.
what is the employer/intern relationship?
Has the employer given you a detailed written offer?
Has the employer been transparent about any known risks associated with the internship?
Is the focus of the internship on your professional growth rather than the work completed for the organization?
Are the learning objectives clearly stated and agreed upon by all parties?