An Internship is a highly structured, time-limited, Career Preparation activity in which a youth or young adult is placed at a workplace for a defined period of time to participate in and observe work first hand within a given industry or organization. Internships provide youth and young adults the opportunity to learn by doing real work and being productively engaged in the workplace. They may provide the opportunity to work in teams, rotate through a number of departments and job functions, or to work on a project of interest and productive value for the employer partner.
Internships may be paid or unpaid, depending on whether the intern is performing productive work for the employer.* They are designed to give youth and young adults hands-on experience in a field of interest, the chance to learn and practice occupational skills and the opportunity to learn about their career options.
Internships are designed to promote:
- Exploration of and experience in a field of interest
- Exposure to a wide range of careers and jobs within the industry
- Opportunities to develop, practice and demonstrate new skills
- The acquisition of occupational knowledge
- Awareness of the skills and education needed to be successful in the industry
Internships are intended to enhance workplace knowledge and workplace awareness. They help build the skills required for specific occupations by exposing youth and young adults to a wide spectrum of activities within the industry and the range of career options available at a workplace. Internships engage youth and young adults in their own learning and provide multiple opportunities for reflection on the experience, both verbally and in writing. High-quality Internships are designed to directly support academic learning, and in many cases have a defined productive value for the Internship host.
Sustaining and growing Internships and all other Work-Based Learning types depend upon developing and maintaining positive relationships with the employers and organizations providing opportunities to the youth and young adults being served. These employers and organizations should be treated as valued customers and partners with frequent check-ins to address participation needs as they arise.
*See USDOL Internship Fact Sheet #71 http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.htm