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Creating an Internship

Opportunities to learn outside the classroom are a critical component of a college education.  Internships provide a powerful mechanism for students to learn and for employers to guide and evaluate future talent.  When done well, internships are truly a win-win!  Below are resources to help you establish effective internships with University of Washington students.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

How are internships different than jobs?
An internship is an experiential learning opportunity that takes place in a workplace environment.  It allows a student to do one or more of the following: 1) integrate academic learning with practical or “hands-on” experience, 2) develop or refine specific professional skills, 3) explore a career interest.  To be considered an internship, rather than a part time job, the experience must have an intentional and significant focus on student learning and a defined beginning and end date.  Internships often center around defined projects with clear objectives, rather than routine unit operations.  Download our What is an Internship? resource above for more information.

Should I pay an intern?
The Career & Internship Center strongly encourages employers to pay their interns for three primary reasons.  First, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has set forth a legal framework compelling for-profit employers to provide minimum wage and overtime provisions to interns except in very rare cases.  Second, equitable access to internships and their myriad benefits requires that paid internships be available for students who cannot afford to engage in uncompensated internships.  Third, wages provide compensation for the effort put forth in an internship itself, whereas academic credit provides compensation for the completion of assignments demonstrating the learning that takes place in an internship.  Download the Compensation resource above for more details on each of these major points.

If I am paying an intern, what is an average hourly wage?
An hourly wage for an intern will vary widely, depending on the industry in which you work, the major or skill set of the student you are recruiting, and his or her level of experience. Internships can range from minimum wage for some roles up to $28 or more an hour for more technical skill sets. For help setting an appropriate and competitive hourly wage, email econeill@uw.edu.

How does an intern receive academic credit from the University of Washington?
A student registers (and pays for) internship credits just as they would any academic courses that provide credit. If a student wishes to receive academic credit for the learning that takes place in their internship, they need to arrange credit through the UW prior to starting their internship. It is the student’s responsibility to initiate this process, whether through their academic department (for credits in their major) or through the Carlson Leadership & Public Service Center (general studies credits). If a student has questions about how to initiate this process, they can contact the Career & Internship Center for support: 206.543.0535.

How many hours a week should an intern work?
As much as possible, an internship should be flexible in nature as it is generally something a student pursues while also taking classes. Internships are part-time, between 10-20 hours a week; not to exceed 20 hours a week during the academic year (September-June). Summer internships, or those during a quarter in which the student is not enrolled in courses, can require up to 40 hours a week. Please do note that we strongly encourage internships that require more than 20 hours/week of students to be paid on an hourly or stipend basis, regardless of industry; offering an unpaid full-time summer internship will likely result in a small applicant pool as most students cannot commit that amount of time to an unpaid opportunity.

How many weeks or months is a typical internship?
An average internship is about 3 months coinciding with a student’s typical quarter or summer.  A key factor in determining proper internship length is that an internship should be long enough so that an intern can get into the rhythm of the position and complete deliverables that are valuable to you and them.  If your position is only for 5-10 hours a week consider a 6-8 month long internship.

Season Beginning Date End Date Avg. # of Hours / Week
Fall Late-Sept/early Oct Mid-December 10-20
Winter Mid-January Mid-March/Early April 10-20
Spring Early April Early June 10-20
Summer Mid-Late June Early-mid September 20-40+

UW Resources:

Informational Articles:

Briana Randall / Director – Internship Project
Career & Internship Center / University of Washington