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Internship is a system of onthejob training for white-collar
White-collar worker
The term white-collar worker refers to a person who performs professional, managerial, or administrative work, in contrast with a blue-collar worker, whose job requires manual labor...

 jobs, similar to an apprenticeship
Apprenticeship is a system of training a new generation of practitioners of a skill. Apprentices or protégés build their careers from apprenticeships...

. Interns are usually college or university students, but they can also be high school students or post graduate adults seeking skills for a new career. They may also be as young as middle school or in some cases elementary students. Student internships provide opportunities for students to gain experience in their field, determine if they have an interest in a particular career, create a network of contacts, or gain school credit. Internships provide employers with cheap or free labor for (typically) low-level tasks. Some interns find permanent, paid employment with the companies in which they interned. Their value to the company may be increased by the fact that they need little to no training.

An internship may be paid, unpaid or partially paid (in the form of a stipend
A stipend is a form of salary, such as for an internship or apprenticeship. It is often distinct from a wage or a salary because it does not necessarily represent payment for work performed, instead it represents a payment that enables somebody to be exempt partly or wholly from waged or salaried...

). Paid internships are most common in the medical, architecture, science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

, engineering
Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of...

, law
A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person who is practicing law." Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political...

, business (especially accounting and finance
"Finance" is often defined simply as the management of money or “funds” management Modern finance, however, is a family of business activity that includes the origination, marketing, and management of cash and money surrogates through a variety of capital accounts, instruments, and markets created...

), technology
Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, and procedures. The word technology comes ;...

 and advertising
Advertising is a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products, ideas, or services. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common...

 fields. Internships in non-profit organization
Non-profit organization
Nonprofit organization is neither a legal nor technical definition but generally refers to an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals, rather than distributing them as profit or dividends...

s such as charities and think tank
Think tank
A think tank is an organization that conducts research and engages in advocacy in areas such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, and technology issues. Most think tanks are non-profit organizations, which some countries such as the United States and Canada provide with tax...

s are often unpaid, volunteer positions. Internships may be part-time or full-time - typically they are part-time during the university year and full-time in the summer. They usually last 6–12 weeks, but can be shorter or longer, depending on the company involved.
The act of job shadowing
Job Shadow
Job Shadow, in its most traditional sense, is a program for students to find out what it is like to be in a specific profession. This helps the student to choose the college program and subsequently the profession that they would like to choose...

 may also constitute interning.

Internship positions are available from businesses, government departments, non-profit groups and organizations
Nonprofit organization
Nonprofit organization is neither a legal nor technical definition but generally refers to an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals, rather than distributing them as profit or dividends...

. Due to strict labour laws, European internships are mostly unpaid, although they are still popular among non-Europeans in order to gain international exposure on one's résumé
A résumé is a document used by individuals to present their background and skillsets. Résumés can be used for a variety of reasons but most often to secure new employment. A typical résumé contains a summary of relevant job experience and education...

 and for foreign language improvement.

Types of internships

Internships exist in various industries and settings. The two primary types of internships that exist in the United States are:
  1. Work experience internship: Most often this will be in the second or third year of the school period. The placement can be from 2 months to one full school year. During this period the student is expected to use the things he/she has learned in school and put them into practice. This way the student gains work experience in their field of study. The gained experience will be helpful to finish the final year of study.
  2. Research internship (graduation) or dissertation internship: This is mostly done by students who are in their final year. With this kind of internship a student does research for a particular company. The company can have something that they feel like they need to improve, or the student can choose a topic within the company themselves. The results of the research study will be put in a report and often will have to be presented.

The practice of a mid-career person taking an internship (see Returnship
A Returnship is an internship-like program first launched in 2008 by the Sara Lee Corporation. The intent of a returnship is to facilitate former mid-career individuals and businesses in exploring if a mutual working relationship is acceptable and desirable. The program in particular is...

) is relatively new to the U.S. but becoming more common due to the current economic crisis.

Paying for an internship

Some companies will find and place students in internships for a fee; such internships are mostly unpaid. In some cases, companies charge to assist with a search, promising to refund their fees if no internship is found. What the company includes in such paid programs can vary. The advantages are that they provide internship placements at reputable companies, provide controlled housing in a new city, mentorship and support throughout the summer, networking, weekend activities in some programs, and sometimes academic credit.

Another form of paying for internships is through charity auctions, where a company with an internship will select a charity to get the proceeds of the auction. In some cases, companies have created internships simply to help charities.

Fee-based programs, and charity auctions, restrict internship opportunities to students in wealthier families who can afford paying thousands of dollars while the student works for little or no wages, in exchange for improving professional work opportunities after graduation. But the head of one company specializing in such internships said that "The average student comes from the middle class, and their parents "dig deep" to pay for it. His company funds scholarships and grants for low-income applicants.

Beyond fee based programs, there has also been criticism against companies requiring college credit in exchange for eligibility to obtain an internship. Depending on the cost of the school, this is often seen as an unethical practice, as it requires students to exchange paid-for and often limited tuition credits in order to work an uncompensated job. Even if the school does not require credit to be received for an internship, companies often will require credit to be received so that they cannot be accused of giving the intern nothing. But in the case of most schools—though some do reserve internship credits that will not take away from your normal tuition's worth of credits—the student is taking a risk and a loss in their pursuit of possible future employment.


It is not seen as appropriate to work without pay unless it is done as part of a work-trial where a person is tested by the authorities as part of plan to get the individual back into the workspace. Although it is common within most of the Danish universities to place students in free work jobs. The company is then compensated and the intern gets welfare during this period, which normally lasts about three months. The Trade Unions monitor this area very thoroughly so an intern cannot result in the loss of a paid job.

A new system of qualification for higher education imposed by the Department of Education does punish those students who take a period off to work for charity
Charitable organization
A charitable organization is a type of non-profit organization . It differs from other types of NPOs in that it centers on philanthropic goals A charitable organization is a type of non-profit organization (NPO). It differs from other types of NPOs in that it centers on philanthropic goals A...



At French universities it is also common to do an internship, in France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 called a , during the third or fourth year of your studies. The duration of the internships varies from 2 to 6 months, but very seldom longer than that. As of January 1st 2010, the French labor law requires that all internships of 2 months or longer be given a minimum gratification of 417,09€ per month. In France it is also becoming more popular to do an internship after one has finished studying, mostly for students who did not get the chance to do an internship during their studies, and to try to gain some working experience this way - generally with the thought of getting hired after the internship period. An internship in France is also popular for international students. The top reason to do an internship in France is to learn the language - a lot of French companies seem to be open to students from different countries. It is often a big advantage for companies to have employees who speak multiple languages.


In Germany there are different kinds of internships as well. As in most other countries, most students take their internship during the fourth or fifth semester of their degree. In some fields of study it is common to write the final thesis in a company. Another type of internship has emerged, the post graduation internship. The difficult situation in the labor market in Germany during the last years has made it hard for people to find the right job, especially for people that have just graduated and lack work experience. Because of this, many offer to do an internship at their preferred place of employment while earning very little or no pay at all, in the hope of landing a job there in the future.


Most undergraduate degrees in Engineering and Business have a mandatory internship as a part of the curriculum. Internships in India are usually unpaid due to a high supply of graduates in comparison to the number of jobs available. Internships in reputable companies are always obtained through personal contacts and references. Very rarely do large companies hold internship intake programs but only outstanding students are able to obtain a place. At times, it is also common for companies to ask for a small training fee in lieu of the costs incurred by the company.


Since the Italian University System entered into the Bologna process
Bologna process
The purpose of the Bologna Process is the creation of the European Higher Education Area by making academic degree standards and quality assurance standards more comparable and compatible throughout Europe, in particular under the Lisbon Recognition Convention...

, an internship experience (commonly referred to by the French term stage) has been made compulsory for almost all those studying for a bachelors or a master's degree (especially in technical, economic or scientific faculties). Its goal is to reduce the gap between the companies' demands and the often too theoretical learning offered by Italian universities. However, since the internship is usually made at university as well and since the few companies that accept student interns rarely offer proper training, at the end usually it is not a real work experience. Almost all the students therefore have to do a second or a third internship after they are done with their studies, hoping to receive a proper professional training, being hired afterward in the same company or in another company in a close or related business. The internship period can last up to 6 months, renewable for other 6 months, so the total period can be up to 12 months. Internships in Italy can be both paid or unpaid: students internships, especially the ones not involved with the development of a thesis, are usually not paid; almost all the graduate internships are paid, but the remuneration is usually extremely low, around 600 euros gross per month, that is about 1/4 of the gross monthly remuneration of an hired young graduate employee, and without benefits other than the lunch and a few paid days for sickness/vacation (so no 13th/14th mensilities, no parental leave etc.). This poses a big problem for fresh graduates, considering as well that some companies use graduate interns just to save money, making them work for 6 to 12 months without giving them a decent remuneration, without offering them proper training/formation, and without hiring them after the internship even if they showed to be productive,fast-learning and trustworthy. In other words, a significant percentage of Italian graduates, after one or even two years from the end of their studies (in some cases even masters studies), are still searching for a real job, that can offer stability and a decent remuneration. This, together with the long time necessary to graduate in Italy, is part of the reason why graduate Italians leave the family home very late, usually in their early 30s.


Some courses (for example: Engineering, Architecture, and such) offered in public universities of Malaysia require the student to attend an industrial training for a period of minimum ten weeks. This period however varies from ten weeks to as long as 6 months.


In the Netherlands it is also common to do an internship during college which, just like in Belgium and France, is called a stage. Most student internships last between 3 and 9 months. Companies are not obligated to pay the student, so sometimes small companies won't pay anything. The normal internship compensation rate in the Netherlands is around €300 per month, depending on education level, and how generous the company they work for is.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, there are a number of colleges where students can undertake an internship whilst studying - for example Queenstown Resort College where students studying adventure tourism or hospitality management must complete an internship in order to complete their course studies. However most of these internships are paid by the employer.


At Spanish
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 universities it is uncommon to do an internship during the education period. The real working experience for students starts when they are done with their study. However, Spanish companies are getting more used to having students doing an internship at their company nowadays. Mostly these are international students from other European countries. Spain is a popular country for students to go to for a short period of time to do an internship. Often, students want to learn Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

, and this is a perfect opportunity for them to do so. Another reason to go to Spain for an internship could be the opportunity to increase their cultural awareness or to experience working in an international setting. Students found that it is hard to get in contact with most Spanish businesses. The best way to find a good company to work at will be with the help of a placement organization. The normal stage compensation rate in Spain would be around 500€/mo, retribution is regulated in many universities starting from 6€/hr. It's not uncommon to find employers taking advantage of unpaid interships in order to get free labor. .

United Kingdom

Internships are often referred to as 'sandwich placements' in the UK and are validated work experience opportunities done as part of a degree program. University staff gives students access to vacancies and students apply direct to employers. Some universities hold fairs and exhibitions to encourage students to consider the option and to enable students to meet potential employers.(AGR report 2008) In the modern labor market graduates with work experience in the form of sandwich placements are not only deemed more desirable to employers but also research has demonstrated they attain higher level degree classifications than those graduates without such experience.

The purpose of these internships/placements is varied. Some University students see it as a way to develop their employability by utilizing the academic elements of their degree in a practical setting. International students may also seek to get understanding about how work is conducted in the English-speaking world and to experience cultural diversity. It is also becoming more mandatory that students have to do an international internship and these countries are found to be of big interest to students due to their Western business culture and language. In the UK, organisations such as the Trades Union Congress
Trades Union Congress
The Trades Union Congress is a national trade union centre, a federation of trade unions in the United Kingdom, representing the majority of trade unions...

 and Intern Aware
Intern Aware
Intern Aware is a British-based pressure group, calling for reform of the internship system, focusing on the issue of pay and the minimum wage. The organisation started as a Facebook group named "Interns Must Be Paid The Minimum Wage". It has led campaigns focused on the non-payment of...

 have been lobbying for a change in British internships by making interns aware of the rights they have under employment law.


In Canada, high school, college and university student placements are typically referred to as "Co-ops" (co-operative education) programs. University co-op programs are often highly competitive; students must apply to and compete for admission, as enrollment is limited. Partnering employers will post placement opportunities through the university. These positions typically span a four month term taking place either during summer break or during the school year.

While some internships are unpaid (particularly in media, advertising, PR and communications), many Canadian organizations do offer paid internships. Additionally, not all internships are entry-level positions; organizations may also offer internships for mid-level professionals. For example, in the province of Ontario, paid internships are available through Career Bridge, a bridging program for immigrants who have extensive experience in other countries but lack relevant Canadian experience, operated by the not-for-profit Career Edge Organization.

United States

Many internships in the United States are career specific. Students often choose internships based on their major at the university/college level. It is not uncommon for former interns to acquire full-time employment at an organization once they have enough necessary experience. The challenging job market has made it essential for college students to gain real world experience prior to graduation. In the US, company internships are at the center of NIGMS funded biotechnology training programs for science PhD students. One example is the Biotechnology Training Program - University of Virginia
Biotechnology Training Program - University of Virginia
The Biotechnology Training Program at the University of Virginia is an National Institutes of Health sponsored PhD level research program founded in 2000. The BTP is open to all UVa PhD students in any science or engineering department at UVa...


Not all internships are paid. Nearly all interns working in the United States must be paid, and at least the minimum wage, for their work in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act
Fair Labor Standards Act
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 is a federal statute of the United States. The FLSA established a national minimum wage, guaranteed 'time-and-a-half' for overtime in certain jobs, and prohibited most employment of minors in "oppressive child labor," a term that is defined in the statute...

. Many internships that are unpaid involve receiving college credit, especially if an internship is correlated with a specific class. The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division allows an employer not to pay a trainee if all of the following are true:
  1. The training, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to what would be given in a vocational school or academic educational instruction;
  2. The training is for the benefit of the trainees;
  3. The trainees do not displace regular employees, but work under their close observation;
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees, and on occasion the employer’s operations may actually be impeded;
  5. The trainees are not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period; and
  6. The employer and the trainees understand that the trainees are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.

An exception is allowed for individuals who volunteer their time, freely and without anticipation of compensation for religious, charitable, civic, or humanitarian purposes to non-profit organizations. An exception is also allowed for work performed for a state or local government agency.

Some states have their own laws on the subject. Laws in the state of California, for example, require an employer to pay its interns working in California unless the intern receives college credit for the labor.

European Union

The European Commission
European Commission
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union....

 operates a sizeable traineeship programme
Traineeship scheme of the European Commission
The traineeship scheme of the European Commission is an internship program providing official in-service training with the European Commission, aimed at young university graduates...


See also

  • Apprentice
  • Curricular Practical Training
    Curricular Practical Training
    Curricular Practical Training is temporary employment authorization for non-immigrant students in the United States while enrolled in a college-level degree program....

     (for international students)
  • Cooperative education
    Cooperative education
    Cooperative education is a structured method of combining classroom-based education with practical work experience. A cooperative education experience, commonly known as a "co-op", provides academic credit for structured job experience...

  • Experiential education
    Experiential education
    Experiential education is a philosophy of education that describes the process that occurs between a teacher and student that infuses direct experience with the learning environment and content. The term is mistakenly used interchangeably with experiential learning...

  • Externship
    Externships are experiential learning opportunities, similar to internships, offered by educational institutions to give students short practical experiences in their field of study. In medicine it may refer to a visiting physician who is not part of the regular staff...

    • Internship (medicine)
    • Sub-internship
  • Mentoring
    Mentorship refers to a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps a less experienced or less knowledgeable person....

  • Practicum
    A practicum is a college course, often in a specialized field of study, that is designed to give students supervised practical application of a previously or concurrently studied theory. Practicums are common for education and social work majors...

  • Postdoctoral researcher
    Postdoctoral researcher
    Postdoctoral research is scholarly research conducted by a person who has recently completed doctoral studies, normally within the previous five years. It is intended to further deepen expertise in a specialist subject, including acquiring novel skills and methods...

  • Service-learning
    Service-learning is a method of teaching, learning and reflecting, frequently youth service, throughout the community. As a teaching method, it falls under the philosophy of experiential education...

  • Work experience
    Work experience
    Work experience is the experience that a person has been working, or worked in a specific field or occupation.- Volunteer work and internships :...

External links