Internship Guide

This guide is designed to help develop Internships that work for youth and young adults, host employers and organizations, and Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) programs. It is part of the DYCD Work-Based Learning Toolkit, which provides proven approaches and strategies to create high-quality, safe and legal Work-Based Learning experiences for youth and young adults enrolled in the Summer Youth Employment Program in New York City.

Internship Overview

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

The Importance of Structured Activity

All Internships include structured activity for the intern, host and program staff before, during and after the experience. These activities help ensure that all involved parties have meaningful, productive experiences that result in enriched intern learning. Proper planning and preparation, attention to legal and safety details, maximization of learning potential and communication and support for the intern and worksite supervisor will help ensure success.

Internship Tools

Tip sheets and checklists for program staff, employer or organization partners, and youth and young adults are provided in this toolkit to help design, structure and support Internships to maximize learning. Each tip sheet supplements the Work-Based Learning essential elements described in this toolkit, and provides a set of success factors and lists of activities or tasks to perform before, during and after the experience. A fact sheet for prospective host employers is also provided. Note: These tools and materials are available in Word format to allow for programs to brand appropriately and include contact information.

The Work-Based Learning Plan and Evaluation tool provided in this toolkit can be a valuable tool to help plan, support, assess and document the Internship experience.

In this Tool Packet:
Program Staff Tip Sheet: Internship Success Factors A checklist and tip sheet for Summer Youth Employment Program staff
Youth/Young Adult Tip Sheet: Internship Success Factors A tip sheet to help youth and young adults get the most out of their Internship
Supervisor Tip Sheet: Internship Success Factors A tip sheet for participating Internship hosts
Employer Fact Sheet: Internships A fact sheet for employers that describes what’s involved in a company providing Internship opportunities
Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act This fact sheet provides general information to help determine whether interns and students working for “for-profit” employers are entitled to minimum wages and overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
Tools Work-Based Learning Plan and Evaluation Tool

New York City Youth and Young Adult Career Pathways