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Developing an Internship Program

Employers look to higher education to produce graduates equipped to function in a changing world. As an employer, you know that you need employees who can communicate, reason, solve problems and continue to learn in response to evolving economic, social and political circumstances. Employers also expect graduates to understand the workplace environment and to be capable of working in teams as well as independently.

At Montclair State University, internships fall into two categories – either credit bearing or non-credit bearing.  Either can be paid opportunities. Our students understand the importance of garnering relevant work experience prior to graduation. This appreciation makes them motivated and tenacious. They are eager to learn and committed to making a great contribution to your company.

Benefits to you

  • When you hire an intern you will take an active role in creating the kind of workforce you want.

  • Before making a commitment for permanent employment, you will have the opportunity to observe and train prospective full-time employees through an internship.  Often these internship opportunities convert into full-time jobs.

  • Some employers view interns as a resource for personnel needed to meet special project needs, peak season or part-time staffing requirements.

  • Interns are students who show initiative and motivation, who can contribute new ideas and knowledge of technologies from the classroom.

  • Your image in the community will be enhanced via your affiliation with the University.

Benefits to our students

  • From the University’s perspective, internships provide experiential education adding an important dimension to formal learning.

  • Internships provide an opportunity for students to test their career choices, develop an understanding of the workplace and perhaps identify new areas of career interest that will affect the studies they pursue when they return to campus.

An internship program helps employers, students and the University attain separate and shared goals and each makes an important investment in the process.

Cooperative Education (a credit bearing internship)

In some cases students can earn credits toward their degrees through the internship opportunities provided by you. This is accomplished through MSU’s Cooperative Education Program. Co-op runs parallel to a semester – being offered during the fall, spring, and summer periods. Once hired by your company, a student is assigned to work with a faculty supervisor. Students earn a grade based upon academic assignments and your evaluations.

A co-op internship combines both experiential and formal learning since students work on the job and complete academic projects based on their experiences. The fact that students enroll in a course and earn college credit underscores the academic relevance.

How does the program work?

  • Students are eligible for a co-op after completing 30 credits; however, some academic departments may have additional requirements.

  • The Center’s advisors prepare students to enter the workplace through counseling and workshops. Students are screened, resumes are forwarded and the employer arranges interviews with selected students.

  • Once hired, a student enrolls in an academic course through the University.

  • Since the student enrolls in an academic course, the co-op internship must run parallel to a semester:

    • Fall – September to December

    • Spring – January to May

    • Summer – late May/June to August.

  • Students are required to intern for a minimum of 15-20 hours/week for a part-time opportunity and 35-40 hours/week for a full-time internship.

  • The Center assigns each student to a Co-op Faculty Advisor who is responsible for the academic aspect of the co-op course as well as for making a visit to the worksite. While there, they meet with the student and talk to the work supervisor to learn how the student is performing on the job.

  • The Co-op Faculty Advisor is responsible for grading the student at the close of the work experience based on site observations, the quality of academic projects completed and the work supervisor’s written evaluations and verbal comments.

  • You will need to assign a work supervisor to the co-op intern.  It is recommended that you provide a detailed orientation for the supervisors. They must understand that they will be asked to assess student progress as well as meet with the student’s faculty advisor once at your location. Select someone who is enthusiastic about undertaking the role, since that person will be required to sign the student’s learning agreement, supervise and act as a mentor to the student; meet with the student’s Co-op Faculty Advisor (at your site); and provide two evaluations of the student’s progress.

Non-credit bearing internships

Beyond co-op, you can offer a non-credit bearing internship to a student.  This can be the best option should you not be able to parallel the opportunity to a semester.  You will still enjoy working with motivated students but you will not have the constraints of a specific start/end date.  In addition, some students may not be interested in earning credits for the experience but still want that real-life experience.  Offering a non-credit bearing internship enables you to still connect with that student.

Launching an Internship Program

Like the launch of any new initiative, the introduction of an internship to an organization requires thoughtful planning. Once you’ve taken a few important steps your internship is likely to run smoothly and generate all the benefits you expect. Here are some basics to consider:

  • Make sure people in your organization understand the reasons for your involvement and the benefits you hope to achieve. It is especially important that management, line supervisors and co-workers understand and “buy into” the decision.

  • Give careful consideration to who will supervise each intern. It is important that the supervisors you select are enthusiastic about the role and willing to become mentors. These supervisors should become familiar with co-op and experiential learning.

  • Provide orientation for your staff so they understand their responsibilities regarding the intern.

  • Establish pay rates, work schedules and job responsibilities for each co-op/intern position. Allocate sufficient funds for a whole year.

  • Become familiar with the Department of Labor Internships Fact Sheet‌‌ which helps determine whether interns must be paid the minimum wage and overtime for services provided to “for-profit” private sector employers.

  • Articulate company policies that will apply to co-op/interns.

Steps for Hiring an Intern

  1. Create a job description that includes the background, skills and aptitudes the successful candidate should possess. Post the internship on Hire a Red Hawk!

  2. Credit-bearing co-ops/internships must follow the academic semesters that begin in September, January and May. The Feliciano School of Business Career Services Office can help you develop a timeline so that pre-screening, interviews, selection and preparation can be successfully completed by the target date.

  3. Review resumes and set up student interviews.

  4. Once you’ve decided to hire a particular student, extend the offer to the student and inform the Feliciano School of Business Career Services Office when the student accepts the position.

  5. Assign a supervisor for the co-op/intern. Make sure that supervisor understands why your organization is involved and their own responsibilities.

  6. If your organization has a Personnel or Human Resources department, make sure to inform them as soon as you’ve hired the co-op/intern. The Human Resources and Payroll offices, along with anyone else involved in record keeping should be familiar with co-op/internships and the company policies you’ve decided will apply to co-op/interns.

Contact Information

For more information about our internship programs, please contact Mariah Mayers, 973-655-3200, or via email at mayersm@montclair.edu.