Interns can offer many benefits to the workplace from supplemental labor to offering a new outlook on the company. College students who intern want to seize the opportunity to gain hands-on experience. They're also eager to be of value to your company and often come prepared with knowledge of new technology and a fresh operational perspective. In fact, upon the recommendation of an accounting intern, one of our experience providers recently implemented a new accounting system for his company.

What is An Internship?

An internship is a professional learning experience that offers meaningful, practical work related to a student’s field of study or career interest. An internship gives a student the opportunity for career exploration and development, and to learn new skills. It offers the employer the opportunity to bring new ideas and energy into the workplace, develop talent and potentially build a pipeline for future full-time employees. Interns are ready to work and ready to learn. Part time internship usually take place in the Fall (August to December) or Spring (January to May) and are typically 10/12 hours a week for a minimum of 120 hours while summer internships (May to August) can be part time or full time with a minimum of 150 hours.

Why Provide An Internship?

There is no denying that interns can be valuable, short-term contributors to a company:

  • Internships are a proven way to recruit potential employees.
  • Providing internships gives your company access to a pool of motivated, intelligent students and access to potential employees
  • Supplementing your staff with interns provides professional staff with more time to pursue long-term or more creative projects.
  • You gain a flexible work force with no requirement of a long-term commitment.

Want to Know More About Internships?

Criteria for Academic CreditThe Enrollment Process Successfully Engaging Interns  | The Employer Internship Handbook

For more information, please contact Cory Werkheiser, Assistant Director of Career and Professional Development, (werkheiserc@cofc.edu).

If you are willing to offer an intellectually rigorous experience that meets the criteria for academic credit, please post your opportunity with Handshake, our internal job search engine.

Criteria for Academic Credit

Organized internships designed to further the student's knowledge of the field in a professional setting generally qualify for academic credit as long as they satisfy the following criteria:

  • Students are given the responsibilities of an entry-level employee
  • Students are provided with a dedicated work space in an office setting
  • The internship lasts a minimum of twelve weeks as the students benefit from experiencing the work flow through an organization over several months
  • The internship is guided by the Learning Contract
  • The experience provider serves as an instructor to the student helping them understand not only the specific tasks of the job, but the field, organizational culture, priorities and goals of the company and professional development

Internships that are more administrative in nature (answering phones, making copies, routine processing of mailings on a regular basis, etc.) and require little of the student in terms of intellectual development will not be approved for academic credit.  While some administrative work is required of any position in a company, the purpose an academic credit internship is to assist the student in applying classroom theory and developing greater discipline-specific knowledge.

The School of Business does not place interns in home-office settings as part of the learning program is gaining experience in a professional environment.

The Enrollment Process

Once a position is offered and accepted by the student:

  • the intern will meet with the company supervisor to complete a learning contract
  • The student submits this to the program director who obtains faculty approval. (In situations where the learning contract is not approved, the program director works with the student to re-negotiate the contract to obtain the necessary intellectual rigor required to obtain academic credit.)
  • Once the semester starts, the program director will send an overview to the company supervisor detailing expectations.  

Successfully Engaging Interns

Hosting an intern entails:

  • Thoughtful planning    Developing a good internship for a student requires you to think strategically about the tasks with which an intern may assist. A detailed job description serves as a guide for work that can be delegated to an intern. The most productive internships are those in which the supervisor identifies tasks for the week versus trying to "find" something for the intern to work on that day. Another successful strategy is to identify one or two long-term projects for the intern on which they may work between tasks. 
  • Supervision    After selection, the intern will meet with you to discuss the objectives of the learning contract and how these objectives will be met. The intern will then submit the learning contract for approval by the School of Business internship director and faculty supervisor. It is important that the internship be an authentic, structured and planned learning experience.
  • Instructional time    No matter how well prepared an intern may be, the new intern is a novice in your organization. It is often tempting to do the work yourself rather than taking the time to explain the task to the intern and supervise the implementation. However, hosting an intern means that you are making an organizational commitment to invest time and energy in teaching the intern as many facets of the company and field as possible including company priorities, goals, professional associations related to the field, etc.
  • Mentoring   The mentor should be genuinely interested in teaching the student not only about the job and the related field, but also about work place conduct. Students often need guidance not only with specific tasks, but in areas such as professional attire or office etiquette. The mentor should be cognizant of opportunities or experiences that may enhance the student's internship, including industry lunches or sitting in on presentations. Such activities that may fall outside of the normal scope of the internship, but would be of great value to the student.
  • Reporting    The supervisor is responsible for submitting a mid-term and end-of-semester evaluation of the intern's performance. If problematic issues arise at any time during the internship, the experience provider is asked to contact the internship coordinator as soon as possible.
  • Physical Resources    For an intern to be a productive learner and worker, the space and tools necessary for a professional job must be available to that intern. Typically, interns should have a dedicated work space with access to the supplies required by the work as well as access to a telephone and a computer.
  • Compensation    In an ideal world, all interns would receive a stipend or an hourly wage. A typical stipend is between $500 and $750 and hourly wages range from $7.50 to $20.00. However, many of the most challenging internship opportunities are with non-profit organizations that are often unable to pay an intern. We encourage experience providers to compensate their interns in every way possible, not only by way of stipends, wages or travel reimbursements, but also by allowing participation in strategy meetings, workshops and other networking and professional development activities.

We sincerely appreciate your interest in providing a valuable learning experience for a College of Charleston student from the School of Business, and we hope you'll choose to enroll in our program. We look forward to working with you.