This question represents the tip of a very, very large iceberg. For the sake of our readers, I’m going to cover some basics in this post, but I can promise that this isn’t the last time we’ll discuss paid vs. unpaid interns on this blog (anyone else still following the Black Swan case?)
For the most part, I encourage employers to seriously consider paying their interns. Internbridge has some great data available on all the reasons why paying interns usually leads to a more positive and successful experience for both the student and the employer. Some of it is really eye-opening. And remember, payment doesn’t have to be hourly – sometimes a stipend or a project-based wage can be a good fit, too.
That said, I understand that it’s not realistic for every company, non-profit, or start-up that needs/wants interns to have the budget to pay them. However, it’s imperative that the employer takes ownership over facilitating some kind compensation for the student. It’s not enough to just declare that the student can get credit for the internship…it’s actually not up to you. If you want your intern to get credit, you must ensure that your opportunity actually will fit their university’s requirements.
Take UCI, for example. At the Career Center, we love to see students pursuing internship opportunities. Love, love, love it. Though, we are not an academic unit, and we can’t offer credit simply because you hire them. We will, however, help you get in touch with one of our academic departments that will consider your opportunity to see if is appropriate to enroll the student in a credit-based program that coincides with their role at your organization. (Examples of UCI programs offering credit for internship opportunities are available here.)
That’s right…your opportunity has to be reviewed by an academic department to ensure that the student is doing work the meets set criteria, which varies from department to department.
The good news is, if an academic unit feels it’s appropriate to grant credit to your interns, the university will help facilitate it. Your involvement will vary depending on the program in which your student is enrolled.
Yes, it can take time to get in touch with the right folks and follow the right steps to give the intern credit. Though, the steps aren’t difficult, they are there to help our students (and you). Isn’t that what internships are all about?
Stay tuned for more on this down the road.
Have a great week!