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Internships at Flathead Valley Community College (FVCC) are credit-bearing hands-on learning experiences in a student’s chosen field of study. Internships generally take place after a student has completed at least two semesters (30 credits) of coursework so they will have the basic skills needed. Remote or in-person worksite hours are determined according to academic guidelines based on the number of course credits, with 1 credit for approximately every 45 hours, depending on the program of study. An intern works 135-150 for a 3-credit course which is usually about 10-15 hours per week. Work schedules vary depending on the needs of the employer and the student’s schedule.

As an FVCC college course, start and end dates for the internship follow the beginning and ending of the semester. It’s best to begin preparing for an intern the prior semester. Ideally, a signed Internship Agreement will be in place the prior semester with an agreed upon start date, usually the first or second week of the semester.

What Programs Offer Internships as Options or Requirements?

The list of programs can be seen on the Student Internships page.

What Defines an Internship?

An internship is a short-term, hands-on, supervised work experience with a professional organization that is designed to increase a student’s knowledge of a professional career field. More than a part-time job or volunteer experience, an internship includes intentional learning objectives related to increasing student knowledge, training to develop additional skills, and quality supervision to guide and mentor the intern.

FVCC subscribes to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) definition of what constitutes an internship that states an internship is a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Internships give students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths and give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent. The following criteria must be met (note that some academic departments may have additional criteria):

  • The experience must be an extension of the classroom: a learning experience that provides for applying the knowledge gained in the classroom. It must not be simply to advance the operations of the employer or be the work that a regular employee would routinely perform.
  • The skills or knowledge learned must be transferable to other employment settings.
  • The experience has a defined beginning and end, and a job description with desired qualifications.
  • There are clearly defined learning objectives/goals related to the professional goals of the student’s academic coursework.
  • There is supervision by a professional with expertise and educational and/or professional background in the field of the experience.
  • There is routine feedback by the experienced supervisor.
  • There are resources, equipment, and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning objectives/goals.

Part Time Jobs, Internships, and Volunteer Positions—What’s the Difference?

There may be some confusion about the difference between an internship, part-time job, or volunteering. The major differences are the learning objectives or goals that serve as the foundation for any internship. Students take on internships to apply what they have learned in the classroom to a professional setting and do so by gaining knowledge, skill, and/or in-depth knowledge of a particular industry. To ensure this happens:

  • Internships should be related to students’ area of study or professional goals.
  • Students should receive routine and frequent feedback from an assigned professional supervisor about how the learning objectives/goals are being met.
  • Students should continually come back to their learning objectives/goals to reflect on whether they are being met.
  • The students’ learning is primary.

If a position you are hiring for is primarily clerical, is replacing the work that would normally be done by a current employee, is completed with compensation as the primary motivator, or is not professional in nature it is not an internship. This type of position can be posted for students as employment.

Do I Need to Pay an Intern?

Internships can be paid or unpaid and a quality internship does not exploit or take advantage of the student. The need for compensation is dependent upon the nature of the student’s position and whether or not it meets the criteria under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Unpaid internships are usually for non-profit organizations.

Employers are encouraged to review the guidelines outlined by the Department of Labor Fact Sheet #71 (FLSA Guidelines) and review the NACE Position Statements and articles on the most recent national conversations about internships. Employers should also consult with their Human Resource departments and/or seek legal counsel on rules and regulations concerning their specific organization. It is the employers’ responsibility to ensure they follow all laws, rules, and regulations.

Employers will be asked to acknowledge that they have read and reviewed recruiting policies and the following information appropriately before being allowed to submit an internship posting.

Do I Have to Provide Worker’s Compensation?

In a paid internship, interns are considered employees of the business/organization and the employer must cover the intern under their worker’s compensation policy. In an unpaid internship, if the internship meets FLSA criteria and is approved by the Career Advisor, FVCC provides worker’s compensation for the student. You will share these details on the signed Internship Agreement. The salary amount will also be listed on the Internship Agreement.

What are My Training and Paperwork Responsibilities as an Internship Provider?

The training will revolve around the internship description you submitted online when you registered as an employer on the FVCC Career Board and a Learning Objectives student assignment. Before the intern starts, please orient the student to health and safety and other organizational policies. We ask that the student receive regular feedback regarding their performance at least weekly. Please feel free to consult with the faculty advisor assigned to monitor student learning.

We have made every attempt to minimize the paperwork for the internship while providing quality learning and meeting legal requirements. Paperwork involved includes only the Internship Agreement, your signature on the Learning Objectives, tracking and initialing Monthly Time Sheets, and the completion of a Mid-Term and Final Evaluation. It is the responsibility of the student to provide you with the necessary forms on a timely basis.

How Do I Request an Intern?

Please contact the Career Advisor to find out how to structure your learning opportunity to meet requirements for an internship. After that, please register as an employer on the FVCC Career Board and post your internship description. You can then interview any qualified applicants. A site visit is generally conducted for new internship employers.

Do Faculty Monitor Learning During the Internship?

Yes, an internship is a course offering, and a faculty member monitors the student’s learning during the internship. Their responsibilities include working with the student on their learning objectives, monitoring activities and learning through an activity log or blog, conducting an on-site visit, tracking hours completed, evaluating the mid-term and final internship provider evaluations, and assigning a grade. Faculty is available to help “trouble-shoot” any student related issues that may arise during the internship.

Additional Resources