The Department of Telecommunications at Ball State University has expectations of students who complete an internship program and likewise has expectations of the sponsoring company or organization.
- The organization sponsoring or employing the student as an intern will provide a well-rounded, academic learning experience for the student intern. Implicit in this expectation is that the student not be used primarily as a gofer or otherwise be employed in a succession of meaningless tasks.
- It is recommended, but not required, that students seek internships with corporations and organizations willing to help the student financially. Compensation may take the form of hourly wages, a per-diem to offset expenses, a tuition scholarship, travel or meal expenses, relocation expenses, parking, and in other ways. The student should address compensation when discussing the internship with the employer. Be advised; students are not under contract with the university and therefore, will not receive any compensation from the university. Note: The sponsors/employers need to be aware of the Fair Labor Standards Act; two important provisions affect internships:
- The employer “derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the ... students.”
- Interns “do not displace regular employees.”
Further, if the student’s time or work will be billed to a client and the student is not compensated, the company will be in violation of the act and will be subject to a fine. However, the wage and hour division, recognizing there needs to be a trade-off benefit for the employer, rather than enforce the letter of the law determines on a case-by-case basis when to enforce the criteria. The division generally asks one primary question, “Who benefited the most?” Assigning too much clerical or duplicating work to a student will invariably result in a finding of unfair practices.
The employer needs to conduct a frank and honest interview with the student and explain the specific requirements and expectations of the internship experience. Included should be a discussion of what learning opportunities will be afforded the intern, the regular hours of work, expectations of after-hours availability, dress and grooming requirements, and the issue of punctuality, among others.
The employer needs to provide a supervisor who is well experienced in the profession of the company/organization and who will agree to oversee the work of the student on a daily basis. This supervisor will be expected to evaluate the intern’s performance near the conclusion of the internship.
The employer further must agree to provide a positive internship experience for at least the minimum number of hours corresponding to the student’s credit hours. The student will have that information for the supervisor.