Career Planning and Development

UNA Internship Program

The internship program at the University of North Alabama provides a valuable opportunity for both employers and students. In today’s tight job market, internships have rapidly become a prerequisite for many full-time positions. The payoff for students is invaluable: real-world experience, evidence of their future job-worthiness, and contacts in their field of interest. The result is an increased demand among students for internship positions and a pool of high-value, cost-effective talent for employers to recruit.

Hiring college student interns can benefit employers by:

  • Providing an opportunity to sample talent and create a pipeline of future employees
  • Offering a way to recruit, screen, and train potential permanent employees at a reduced cost and before making a full-time commitment
  • Allowing convenience and flexibility of hiring additional staff during peak periods
  • Bringing a fresh perspective to the organization and contributing to the company’s mission.
  • Offering junior-level managers an opportunity to gain supervisory experience

As an employer participating in the internship program, you provide students with a valuable opportunity to develop practical skills and knowledge in a real work setting-an experience they are able to place on their resumes!

How to Hire a UNA Student Intern

  1. Develop a job description
  2. Advertise the internship opportunity by posting it on LionJobs (link to)
    View LionJobs Employer Instructions
  3. Review submitted applications and select an intern
  4. Work with the intern to complete the required paperwork:
    Employer Contact Form
    Memorandum of Understanding - This form outlines the responsibilities of the student, university, and employer.
    In general, employers are required to:
    • Develop a job description
    • Provide regular supervision to the intern
    • Work with the intern to develop their learning objectives by providing projects and activities
    • Have expertise in the area in which the intern is working
    • Complete an evaluation of the intern’s work

Career Planning and Development Can Help!

Our office offers services to assist in developing and promoting your internship. Call the Employer Development Specialist at (256)765-5019 to discuss your interest in an intern and we can help you:

  • Identify a professional activity within your organization where an intern may be of assistance.
  • Develop the internship position job description. The description needs to include the duties and responsibilities as well as any requirements.
  • Post the position on LionJobs.
  • Coordinate on-campus interviews for the candidates you wish to interview.

Building your internship program

Compensation Issues

The question of whether or not to pay interns has a number of implications for employers. Given the limited duration of internships, the out-of-pocket costs associated with compensating interns may produce a strong return-on-investment and "pay-out" over the long run in the form of lower recruiting costs and reduced turnover. It may be helpful to consider the following when determining how to compensate your interns.

  • The quality of an intern's experience need not be diminished simply because an internship is unpaid. However, the quality and number of available candidates for the hiring organization may be reduced because financial need prevents some highly qualified students from pursuing unpaid opportunities.
  • In a for-profit organization it is common for employers to offer an hourly wage.
  • In some fields like computer science and information systems, paid internships are the norm because of the specialized skills these students bring to the hiring organization. Students majoring in these fields are in demand and may have the luxury of choosing the best offer.
  • In the not-for-profit sector, it is more common for internships to be unpaid. For the most part, students interested in working with not-for-profit organizations are aware that these may be volunteer positions.
  • In the case of unpaid internships, it is typical for interns to work part-time so they can earn money through another job.
  • Should you choose to use unpaid interns and you are a for-profit organization, be sure that your intern is considered a trainee under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act

Other Legal Issues

Work Schedules

Interns may work as regular part-time or full-time employees while earning academic credit. Work schedules are varied and tend to be flexible to allow for the students class schedule. Typically students work 10-20 hours per week during the academic year. Some may work full-time during the summer.

Academic Credit

An internship should provide training and experience related to a student’s academic course of study and career goals. Academic credit may become a component of an internship but is arranged by the student and university faculty. If you wish to align your internship with major/minor course goals and objectives, Career Planning and Development can assist you in contacting the appropriate academic departments.

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