Frequently Asked Questions
What is an internship?
- Monitored work experience with intentional learning goals
- Establishes a reasonable balance between the student's learning goals and work the organization needs completed
- Short term (10-12 weeks), although may become longer term
- Can be for-credit (students register for an internship seminar class on campus, which meets regularly and includes significant course work--see a list of classes available) or non-credit (for the student's own professional development but not monitored by Calvin)
- Part-time during the school year (usually 10-15 hrs/wk), can be part- or full-time during the summer
- Fall semester is September through December
- Spring semester is February through mid-May
- Summer semester is mid-May through August
What is the advantage of an intern over a part-time employee?
- They are highly motivated and interested in a career in your field of work
- They provide an effective and efficient tool for recruiting full-time hires, giving employers the opportunity to "test drive" an employee before making a long-term commitment
- They can complete project work for which you need extra brain power
- They connect employers with Calvin and provide more exposure to your organization
- They bring fresh ideas to the table
- They offer a flexible, cost-effective work force not requiring a long term commitment
- They allow professional staff to pursue higher level projects
Read a Wall Street Journal article about using interns effectively.
What are the employers' responsibilities?
Employers agree to:
- Provide a job description: either post it on CalvinLink or e-mail it
- Sign an internship agreement the first time they hire a Calvin intern
- Assign a mentor/supervisor to each intern
- Give students at least 10 hours of work per week for at least 10-12 weeks
- Participate in the for-credit intern's academic progress by completing a goal sheet, a mid-term visit, and a final evaluation as provided by the intern's professor
- Contact Calvin when positions are filled
What are the issues related to paying interns?
About 75% of Calvin interns are paid, and the average pay rate is $10 per hour. In some industries, unpaid internships are more common (e.g. non-profit orgs, broadcasting), while in others, interns' wages are very competitive (e.g. accounting, engineering, computer science). We do not dictate whether or not an employer needs to pay interns or what their wages must be. Students can receive both pay and credit for an internship.
Issues related to unpaid internships are currently being addressed in litigation and have not been completely resolved. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has a six prong test to determine if an intern can be classified as a "trainee" and therefore not entitled to wages, although the validity of this test has been questioned in recent appeals court rulings. Employers must determine for themselves whether their internship meets legal standards. See a handout developed by the organization Intern Bridge for details and see an article about court rulings regarding unpaid interns, as well as this recent NY Times article about possible changes to the legality of unpaid internships.
What is the Work-Study Program?
The federal government provides money to help pay the wages of some college students with financial need to work in non-profit organizations. Student eligibility is related to financial need. Calvin has partnerships with many local non-profit organizations to offer internship quality, paid, Work-Study opportunities off campus during the school year (not summer). Work-Study students are paid minimum wage through Calvin's payroll, and non-profit organizations are billed for 25% of their student's wages twice per month. To find out more, contact Karen Hollebeek.
How does a student find an internship?
Students are responsible for finding their own placements with the assistance of the career development office. Students are encouraged to seek out internships at organizations in which they have an interest. They also can view a list of open internship positions available on CalvinLink.
Post your internship position online.