Internships and Volunteering
Paid vs Unpaid Internships and Volunteering
Internships must be paid, unless the employer can prove the following as directed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (PDF) :
- The training, even though it includes actual operation of the employer's facilities, is similar to training that would be given in a vocational school.
- The training is for the benefit of the student.
- The student does not displace regular employees, but works under the close observation of a regular employee.
- The employer provides the training and derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the student. Occasionally, the operations may actually be impeded by the training.
- The student is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period.
- The employer and the student understand that the student is not entitled to wages for the time spent training.
- If the position is unpaid, we recommend that a student intern no more than 20 hours weekly. For more information and guidance on this topic, call 212.261.1538.
Interns are not volunteers. NYIT defines volunteering as an activity performed for an organization legally holding not-for-profit status, for the benefit of the community and the volunteer, for no financial compensation and in designated volunteer positions only. Volunteers may not replace paid workers nor constitute a threat to the job security of paid workers, and must choose to volunteer of their own free will. The community service NYIT volunteers perform shall allow them the opportunity to become civically engaged and address public problems. Students will not earn academic credits for their volunteer work. Volunteer opportunities can be shared on Career Net.
The internship program at NYIT provides students with the opportunity to apply theoretical learning gained in the classroom to fields related to their career interests. Students are instructed by NYIT Career Services staff members on resume writing, interviewing skills, professionalism, and other career-related issues.
In the short term, internships should integrate with and complement the student's classroom learning; in the long term, internships should aid the student's transition to the working world as a postgraduate professional.
Internships Must Be:
- Related to the student's major or career goals and provide meaningful work experience. The following types of positions will not be approved: jobs based solely on commission, entrepreneurial positions, telemarketing, or child care.
- Offered at a worksite that has the proper infrastructure to ensure a safe, properly guided learning experience. The position must provide an on-site work location. A work-site in someone's home is not acceptable. An on-the-road position is not acceptable.
- At a company or agency that is registered with the appropriate Department of Labor. The site must also have a published/working telephone number and, if requested, promotional literature.
- Supervised, so that students may receive feedback and mentoring.
- Arranged around the student's academic schedule, so as not to interfere with the student's classes or other academic requirements (please note: we recommend no more than 20 hours/week during fall and spring terms, and full-time only during the summer or holidays).
- Provide exposure to key business practices common to that industry. (Some "grunt work" is fine, but above all the internship should be a meaningful learning experience.)
Orientations are designed to cover the following topics: resume and cover letter basics; how and where to find an internship; interviewing basics; ethical conduct expectations; expectations while on the job; safety, professionalism, and ethics in the workplace; identifying learning objectives, goal setting, the evaluation process, and making the most of your internship.
Electronic evaluations are available to employers and students participating in the internship program. A mid-semester and end-semester employer evaluation is prepared for students to evaluate student performance. Students are encouraged to evaluate the internship program and NYIT's role in facilitating the placement and learning process at the end of the internship experience.
Reflection is a method by which a student critically examines his/her role during the experiential assignment. This forum allows for an exchange of ideas and stimulates creative thought regarding future educational, personal, and career goals. This is an essential component of experiential education.
- National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Guidelines
Academic assignments can include ongoing reflection (see below) in addition to other projects, papers, or presentations that specifically relate to the student's field of interest. Assignments may include:
- A paper or presentation at the conclusion of internship with topics including their work environment, what they learned at their internship, and how they met their learning objectives, what projects they completed, how they contributed to the organization, and what their next steps in their studies and career will be given the internship experience.
- Contributing to a weekly discussion board where faculty post a question or thought for students doing internships to contribute to weekly journals and portfolios of the work completed during the internship
Grading should be based on academic assignments. The student is receiving academic credit for academic work. A significant percentage of the grade should be based on ongoing reflection.
Orientations ensure that students, organizations, and faculty are working together to meet the goals of the student, organization, and faculty. The Office of Career Services will assist you with orientations if you wish. We conduct orientations appropriate for students who have not secured their internships, focusing on the internship search and tools they need to have in place to land an internship. We also conduct orientation on what to expect at the internship, ethics, and how to make the most of an internship.
It is also important for the internship organization to conduct an orientation for their interns. The Office of Career Services conducts workshops for internship organizations to help them develop successful internship programs. Guidelines for employers can be found on developing an internship program/position.
Reflection Activities. Reflection is an essential component of a successful internship program. To ensure that your students meet their learning objectives they should be engaged in ongoing reflection throughout their internship experience.
Ongoing reflection can be accomplished through different forums including:
- Discussion groups
- Journals and portfolios
- Reflection at the end of the semester can be more effective in a group setting where students will learn from others' experiences, shared ideas, and network.
Sample reflection/journal/discussion questions:
- How does your internship relate to your field of interest? What can you take from your internship into the classroom?
- What is the organization's mission? What is the governance structure? Where does the organization receive funding? In what ways is the organization connected with government, foundation, and corporate policies and regulations?
- What is the civic role of your chosen profession/discipline? What are the public/civic dimensions of your anticipated work? What expectations does a democratic community place upon you as an individual? Upon you in your professional capacity?
- What did you learn during your internship that is not related to your field of interest or your major?
- What strengths or weaknesses did you become aware of during the course of your internship?
- Describe your organization's culture: how are you fitting in or not fitting in with that culture?
- Professional Associations
Refer to this in depth section to learn more about guidelines and rules international students must abide by while studying in the U.S.
Internship Certificate Program
Find out more about internships officially recognized and supported by the Office of Career Services.