Defining an Internship

Nazareth considers employers to be educational partners: mentoring students, teaching real-world skills and preparing graduates to enter the job market.

To ensure that an internship is a "guided learning experience", and thus eligible to be considered legitimate for academic credit, the following criteria must be met. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) gives us a great definition:

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 workplace setting (across in-person, remote, or hybrid modalities). Internships provide students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience, develop social capital, explore career fields, and make connections in professional fields.

To ensure that an experience—whether it is a traditional internship or one conducted remotely or virtually—is educational, all of the following criteria must be met:

  • 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 that details intern responsibilities and 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.

*Students earning academic credit for internships must be at sites that are not in a private residence or attached to a personal home.

Non-Traditional Internships

Unpaid Internships at For-Profit Companies

For-profit internship sites offering unpaid internships should construct their internship position so that it is primarily for the benefit of the student and focused on pre-professional tasks designed to increase student learning (and not predominately of administrative tasks).  All sites are encouraged to read the Guidelines for Internships: The Unpaid Intern Test and this position statement about compensation and student learning issued by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). 

Virtual/Remote Internships

If a virtual internship is established, here are some components that should be in place:

  • A clear, detailed position description which covers all expectations and which outlines what will constitute a "successful" internship
  • Some type of online project management tool ‐ Office 365, Google Docs, or a similar program.  This will allow the supervisor to go online and monitor the work which is supposed to be completed.  The work is stored in the "cloud" (not on a single PC) so it is always available to those who need it to work on or review.
  • A daily email report where the student provides information such as hours worked, challenges or problems encountered, results obtained, and any questions they may have.
  • A weekly virtual meeting on Skype, Gmail videochat or some similar technology.  If that is impossible, then at least a phone conversation.  This meeting may be used to affirm the student, correct any issues, and to catch up personally.
  • If the virtual internship is "local" (the site is not far from campus, but the employer says the student can work remotely) the employer must meet with the student in a public place or in the organization’s office at least once per week.  This face‐to‐face meeting is a time for project planning, review of progress made, feedback, etc.

*Standard requirements for earning three credits in the Nazareth internship course also apply (student must complete at least 10 weeks and at least 120 total hours of internship-related work).

student interns at news desk

Fast Facts

  • Nazareth student interns must spend at least 10 weeks (8 weeks in the summer) AND at least 120 hours of time at their internship site.
  • Sites will be required to complete a Site Agreement Form with the student prior to the start of the experience that captures supervisor contact information, intern responsibilities, a schedule, etc.
  • Students are enrolled in a course and complete a variety of academic assignments as a part of the internship experience.
  • Interns will request time with supervisors and colleagues to establish relationships, identify expectations, solicit feedback, use job crafting techniques to set goals and demonstrate initiative, and explore organizational culture.    
  • Supervisors will be asked to provide feedback near the mid-point of the experience through a course assignment or a site visit/virtual meeting/email check-in.
  • Sites must complete a performance evaluation with their intern at the close of the internship.