Internship Types, Definitions, and Legal Facts

Internships are work/learning experiences that provide a hands-on way for students to confirm choice of major and/or career in a way that is often more substantial than a part-time job.

  • They may be linked to an academic department and/or done for academic credit.
  • A traditional internship typically lasts between two to four months and can be part-time or full-time, while micro internships are shorter experiences, about four weeks, and are normally entirely project based.
  • Some opportunities are paid while others are not.

Credit and Compensation are not synonymous or interchangeable. The University determines if an internship meets educational objectives for academic credit. Employers decide if an intern will be paid. A quality internship does not exploit or take advantage of the student. All internships are expected to provide substantial opportunities for mentoring, networking, shadowing, and learning about the career field through meaningful work and contributions to the overall organization.

  • Part-time Job vs. an Internship vs. a Co-op
  • Credit Internships (Academic)
    • Students may be able to earn academic credit while interning, which are considered credit internships. Specific guidelines and requirements for credit internships vary by major.
    • Credits must be earned during the term in which the internship takes place, which means credit may not be acquired past the add/drop date or retroactively.
    • This work/learning arrangement is overseen by a faculty or staff member at the university, in partnership with a designated employee of the selected internship site.
    • The university representative determines whether or not the host site meets academic requirements regarding terms and conditions for assignments, internship tasks, work hours, and compensation.
    • An integral component of the internship experience is the incorporation of learning objectives and experiences separate from a student’s work tasks. These experiences must exist for the sole benefit of the intern, and not for the gain of the company.
      • Examples of learning experiences include the opportunity to observe meetings or client appointments, the ability to shadow staff in other departments, and homework-like assignments to be evaluated by members of the professional staff.

    Cost to the student: Credit internships that take place during the academic year are included in the tuition for the semester for full-time students. Course tuition and fees are associated for academic internships completed during breaks. If you are interested in earning academic credit for your internship, please refer to the Earn Credit for Your Internship page or email the Internship Team at internships@uconn.edu for more information.

  • Non-Credit Internships (Non-Academic)
    • Non-credit internships are found and completed independently by students to supplement their formal education and to gain practical work experience.
    • Learning agreements, networking, reflection activities and journals are strongly encouraged to make the experience more meaningful.
    • These internships may or may not be paid, with compensation ranging from salaries, stipends, and hourly payments to travel allowances, housing and food subsidies, or scholarships.
    • Hours are not regulated by the university, so it falls upon the student to make sure the amount of time working is reasonable and relevant.
    • Staff at the Center for Career Development can help students ensure the opportunity is legitimate and worthwhile.
    • If you are interested in discussing a non-credit internship, please make a Career Coaching appointment  or email the Internship Team at internships@uconn.edu for more information.
  • Unpaid Internships and the Law
    Unpaid internships in the US are subject to scrutiny by the Department of Labor and the Courts. When participating in an unpaid internship, students are encouraged to ask if the employer is aware of the guidelines in the Fair Labor Standards Act to ensure liability compliance. For additional information regarding these guidelines and how students may be impacted, please contact the Center for Career Development through internships@uconn.edu.
  • On-Campus Internships
    • On-campus internships allow students to gain practical experience within the UConn system at any of the five campuses or UConn Health.
    • These opportunities may be paid or unpaid, for credit or not for credit. Depending on department policies regarding payment, work-study funds may be used for UConn on-campus internships.
    • Students may participate in on-campus internships by applying to positions through Handshake and/or JobX (student employment).
    • They may also approach a department on campus to determine if that office or work area is open to having an on-campus intern; if you do not see an advertised position on your campus, reach out and see if the position may be done remotely.
    • To see a sample list of departments that have offered positions, visit On-Campus Internships.
  • Learning Agreements
    All interns are encouraged to formulate a learning agreement, regardless of credit or wage status. A learning agreement demonstrates the student’s intention to developing new skills along with the supervisor’s commitment to support those efforts. Sample Learning Agreement