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Interns and Internships



Interns find internships for a variety of reasons. Interns need internships to:

  • obtain experience in their degree field;
  • earn money;
  • find out about different jobs, fields, careers, employers, and workplaces;
  • obtain needed experience to obtain a job;
  • fulfill degree requirements; and
  • learn about the world of work, in general.

An internship is a temporary job at a work location that provides the work experience that an intern desires to obtain for any of the above reasons. An internship is supplied by an employer who hopes that by providing an intern with work experience, he or she, in turn, will benefit from the knowledge, education, excitement, and recent training that the intern brings to the workplace.

The employer also may have a commitment to developing opportunities in particular skill sets, degrees, or fields, a dedication to a profession.

Internships are paid or unpaid positions. When the internship counts for academic credit, or work experience is required for a particular degree or graduation, the internship may be unpaid. Because some employers may have been taking advantage of interns as free workers, the US Department of Labor (DOL) issued employer guidelines that differentiate an internship from employment.

The DOL guidelines also differentiate between the provision of an educational experience for an intern and an experience that too closely approximates an unpaid job. About.com’s Penny Loretto who writes the internship site, reviews thesix significant internship differentiating points for employers.

Employers have particular obligations about the internship experience that they supply for an intern.

Typically, interns fall into a couple of categories of people who need internships. Interns may need the work experience for these reasons:

  • To fulfill graduation from college requirements,
  • Because obtaining jobs in his or her field requires work experience,
  • To test his or her interest in a particular field or job,
  • To fulfill certification or licensing requirements,
  • To gain experience prior to changing career fields, and
  • To gain real world work experience in a real job.

In summary, an intern needs to obtain work experience; an employer supplies the work experience by supplying an internship, an experience-providing work situation. Different legal requirements apply to internships than to full time employment. These make internship provision desirable and advantageous to employers.

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