All internships, including virtual internships, must clearly meet the criteria set forth by the National Association for Colleges and Employers (July 2011):
- The internship experience must be an extension of the classroom: a learning experience applying the knowledge gained in the classroom.
- The skills or knowledge learned must be transferable to other employment settings.
- The experience has a defined beginning and end, and a job description with desired qualifications.
- There are clearly defined learning objectives/goals related to the professional goals of the student's academic coursework.
- There is supervision by a professional with expertise and educational and/or professional background.
- There is routine feedback by the experienced supervisor.
- There are resources, equipment, and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning objectives/goals.
For more resources on developing internship programs, we highly recommend reviewing the National Association of Colleges and Employers 15 Best Practices for Internship Programs as well as InternBridge's Organizational Audit for Internship Programs.
Some experiences do NOT qualify as an internship:
- Positions that displace a regular employee.
- Position that are 100 percent commission-based.
- Positions that require door-to-door canvassing, cold-calling, telemarketing, or petition gathering as the primary activity.
- “Independent contractor” relationships that require the intern to set up his/her own business to sell products, services and/or recruiting other individuals to set up their own business.
- Positions in which the student is required to pay the employer for any part of the experience (e.g., fees for training).
Please note: The list above is not exhaustive and Loyola University Chicago reserves the right to deny any internship that raises a concern with faculty or staff members.
Private sector employers need to be familiar with the United States Department of Labor guidelines for legally offering unpaid internships, as most opportunities are actually employment that requires payment. This fact sheet produced by the United States Department of Labor provides general information to help determine whether interns must be paid the minimum wage and overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
In order for a Loyola University Chicago student to receive academic credit for an internship, the student must receive approval of the internship site and position description by a university faculty instructor and/or administrator prior to the internship experience. Please note: Schools and programs within the University may have different requirements related to the number of internships work hours required.
Paid and Unpaid Internships
Loyola University Chicago supports the National Society for Experiential Education’s position regarding paid and unpaid internships:
... to favor paid work positions for students whenever pay can be arranged in work environments that have the potential for meeting the student's goals …Credit is for what students learn; pay is for what they provide to the field sponsor. The two are neither mutually exclusive nor conflicting … (National Society for Experiential Education, 2011)