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.
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. Employers must determine for themselves whether their internship fits FLSA standards. See a recent handout developed by the organization Intern Bridge for details and see an article about recent court rulings regarding unpaid interns.
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.
Comenius Scholars Information
Calvin College invites non-profit employers to join us as a community partner in the Comenius Scholars program. This internship program provides paid, for-credit internships for liberal arts students working in non-profit organizations. The program aims to
- offer young people responsible apprenticeship positions in the non-profit sector
- provide non-profit organizations the abilities and enthusiasm of liberally educated college interns
- link students and organizations in relationships with deliberate goal-setting, accountability, mentoring and training in non-profit leadership and management.
This internship program will nurture students' sense of civic responsibility through leadership building and experiential learning. Appropriate projects for students include those related to organizational leadership, strategic planning, resource management, marketing, communication, fundraising, grant writing, volunteer coordination, working with boards, event planning, etc. The program began during the spring 2007 semester with 22 students through a grant from the McGregor Foundation. The grant has since run out, but the program continues, with employers fully funding stipends for students and Calvin covering administrative costs.
An on-campus seminar, facilitated by Professor of Communications Mark Fackler, is a 3 credit class for students, touching on a variety of topics related to non-profit leadership. Internship supervisors are invited to attend the seminars free of charge. See sample syllabus.
- Students are paid at least a $500 stipend, paid by your organization at the end of the internship for 120-140 hours of work
- Community partners may pay the student more if desired (for example, a stipend of $750 or $1,000, or an hourly wage); paying more may increase your candidate pool
- Some Comenius Scholars are eligible for the Federal Work-Study Program (W-S). These students' wages will be paid from W-S funds, and the employer will be charged for 25% of the wages.
The non-profit organization must:
- have a supervisor/mentor to work with the intern
- be willing to pay at least a $500 stipend
- provide the intern with work for 120-140 hours over a semester
- develop a brief description of the internship position to post at Calvin, and select their own intern from the students who apply (Note: Calvin will review position proposals and offer preference to those with more challenging work assignments. Positions not filled by a Comenius Scholar can be posted for the general student body.)
- be willing to sign an internship agreement and fill out an evaluation of the student's performance
Post your internship position online, and be sure to check the box for "Comenius Scholars" near the bottom of the form.