Internship Guide for Employers
Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business prepares students to make a difference in the world by teaching essential interpersonal skills alongside a high-quality business education backed by impactful research and outreach.
The Eastin Center for Career Readiness, which resides in the Spears School, provides students with indispensable resources to build interpersonal skills, critical thinking, problem solving skills and is a crucial piece in ensuring graduates are job ready.
Internships are an important piece of preparing students for the world of work. Our students seek internships to apply knowledge learned in the classroom in a professional setting.
The Spears School of Business welcomes the opportunity to work with you to design an internship program that fits your company’s needs and to help build your talent pipeline. Below you’ll find information needed to get started.
Why Hire Interns?
Hosting an internship can be a great experience for both employers and students.
Internships serve to introduce students to potential professions and organizations, while providing opportunities to “test-drive” a career choice and apply classroom learning in a professional work setting.
Internships provide employers with energetic workers who bring practical skills, a strong work ethic, and unique ideas to organizations. They give employers the opportunity to identify and assess potential full-time hires, and gain campus visibility.
Key benefits to your organization are:
- A pipeline for recruitment of new graduates. The opportunity to work with potential entry-level employees prior to making a full-time commitment
- Reduced turnover and training among entry-level employees who were former interns
- A chance for junior-level managers within your organization to gain supervisory experience
- The convenience and flexibility of hiring additional staff during peak seasons
- Opportunity to engage in Spears School on-campus activities
What an Internship IS
Employers are encouraged to focus the majority of interns’ experiences on activities and responsibilities that allow exploration of the organization, industries and career paths while adding value to both an interns’ qualifications and to the employer. Students tend to share their experiences with others, and creating a positive learning environment is the best publicity an employer can earn.
Common characteristics of an internship include:
- Provides meaningful, career-related work that extends the students’ learning beyond the classroom
- Ensures ongoing communication and engagement between the intern and the organization through careful monitoring by a site Supervisor and career mentor
- Involves intentional learning with specific goals and objectives supporting students’ academic and career interests
- Allows sufficient time for students to actively reflect on experiences
- Typically has a limited duration, usually a semester or a summer
- Can be full or part-time
What an Internship is NOT
- Primarily clerical or unskilled labor
- A vague, undefined experience
- An unguided and unsupervised experience
Although an internship can be paid or unpaid, The Eastin Center for Career Readiness encourages employers to compensate interns to adhere to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Compensation should consider industry, location of internship, and desired competencies. Hourly wages vary by industry and the nature of the work. The U.S. Department of Labor provides extensive guidance to help employers determine whether interns must be paid minimum wage and overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act for the services that they provide. We would encourage all employers to review this guidance at https://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.pdf
Students in the Spears School can receive academic credit for their internship experiences. Ultimately, the decision to pursue academic credit is the responsibility of the student, and if academic credit is to be earned for the internship experience, the student must receive approval from their departmental internship coordinator before placement at an internship site. The student is also responsible for communicating with his or her employer about supervisor obligations related to earning academic credit, which may include a formal internship contract with defined learning objectives, a time log of hands-on internship hours, formal performance evaluations, communication with a faculty internship supervisor, or other commitments.
Designing Your Program
Advance planning is key to developing a high-quality internship program. The following nine guidelines should help you get started in establishing an internship site:
Create a Job Description
Just like with any open position, you should include specific duties and projects associated with the internship. It also is important to include the internship duration (fall, spring, or summer), hours (part-time or full-time) and compensation in the description. The Eastin Center Career Services team can assist in drafting a job description based on your needs.
Select a Site Supervisor
To ensure appropriate supervision, coaching and mentoring takes place, interns should be paired with an on-site supervisor and/or a career mentor. The site supervisor is typically the hiring manager. The supervisor and intern should meet on a regular basis, and the supervisor should be accessible for consultation throughout the experience.
- Develop Specific Projects & Assignments
Whenever possible, identify and delegate projects that have a definite beginning and end in the internship time frame. This structure allows the intern to feel like an integrated team member of the organization and also provides concrete and measurable outcomes at the conclusion of the experience. For example, a measurable learning objective might be, “The intern will produce a marketing plan for ABC product line.” Conversely, an immeasurable learning objective might be, “The intern will acquire an understanding of our marketing concepts.”
- Coordinate Logistics Prior to the Intern’s Arrival
Be sure to arrange for workspace, phone use, email account, payroll forms, security clearance, parking permits and other needs. If you’re hiring out of town interns, they will have questions about temporary relocation. While it’s not the employer’s responsibility to provide housing for interns, it’s a good idea to serve as an information resource for the student prior to their arrival.
- Outline Basic Intern Training
The training program should cover company basics, including an overview of the organization’s mission, vision and values, an office tour, staff introductions, and other expectations, such as dress code, where to park, office policies, and other details. This training may be a formal orientation process or one-on-one with the supervisor and/or career mentor.
- Establish Performance Criteria and Offer Regular Feedback
Setting of expectations will provide benefits to both the intern and the employer as it sets a framework for discussion. It serves as a professional development experience for the intern and clarifies employer expectations of what constitutes quality performance on the job.
- Interview and Select an Intern
For the most part, the process for the selection of an intern is similar to the recruitment of an entry-level professional employee, and the interview process may be conducted at your organization, or the Oklahoma State University campus, depending upon the strategies you utilize to reach students.
- Make the Offer in a Timely Manner
As internships are extremely competitive in today’s job market, communication and follow-up in the selection process is very important. A lapse in communication during the selection process may result in a top candidate accepting an internship elsewhere. It’s not unusual for employers to recruit, interview and extend internship offers during the fall semester for placement the following summer.
- Before Interns Return to School, Conduct an “Exit Interview.”
Solicit feedback on the nature of their experience and suggestions they may have for improving the program. If the intern is someone with whom you would like to work again in the future, be sure to get updated contact information.
Our goal is to assist you in building your employer brand among students and reaching the right candidates for your internship. Recruitment opportunities include free internship postings on HireOSUGrads.com as well as on-campus activities including career fairs, information sessions, class and club visits.
Kelsey Lee, Manager, Career Services
Spears School of Business
103 Business Building
Stillwater, OK 74078
Alicia Smales, Director, Eastin Center for Career Readiness
Spears School of Business
103 Business Building
Stillwater, OK 74078
Fair Labor Standards Acts
National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)
NACE provides additional resources to make your internship program successful including benchmarks, best practices, compensation surveys and tips.