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What is an Internship?

Internships are work experiences that allow students to gain practical skills and knowledge in a specific career field. Internships at JMU can be paid or unpaid, as well as for academic credit or no credit. They can take place at any point in the semester, but they are most often completed during the summer. Internships provide beneficial, work experience to supplement what students are learning in the classroom! Internships are considered experiential education, along with externships, shadowing, and volunteering.

Internship Policies

NACE Internship Standards

Career & Academic Planning supports the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) standards on internships. Employers must follow the standards established by NACE when bringing on JMU student interns. These standards state that an internship should meet the following criteria:

  • The experience must be an extension of the classroom: a learning experience that allows students to apply 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.
Internship Compensation

In Career & Academic Planning, we encourage employers to offer students paid internships, though some government and non-profit organizations routinely offer unpaid internships only. Unpaid internships limit your applicant pool; though all internships offer students experience, providing a paid internship makes your opportunity competitive and increases the number of applicants. For-profit employers offering unpaid internships must abide by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

What is The Fair Labor Standards Act?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law under the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the United States Department of Labor. This law includes standards for private sector employers in regard to internships.

If you are a for-profit employer offering an unpaid internship, you must meet the following criteria outlined by the FLSA:

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and the employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship. (Source: WHD Fact Sheet #71)
Internships for Credit

While most JMU students can receive academic credit within participating states of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, the majority of JMU students are not required by their major to complete an internship for credit. You may contact an internship coordinator in the department from which you hope to hire an intern for more information.

Students must pay for internship credit(s) like they pay for other academic courses; therefore, offering students the ability to use the internship for credit hours, if applicable to their major, is not equal to paying them and should not be viewed as an incentive.

What is the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement?

State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) is an established agreement regarding student participation in out-of-state internships and other educational courses for academic credit. Member states join SARA, while colleges and universities operate under SARA, and follow its nationwide policies and standards on accredited internships.

How Does SARA Relate to JMU Students’ Internships?

James Madison University joined SARA in June 2015 and implemented SARA’s regulations for accredited internships in spring 2016. JMU students may now intern in other member states of SARA for credit. 

How Does SARA Impact Employers Hoping to Hire JMU Interns?

An employer’s headquarters must be located within a member state of SARA in order for their JMU student intern to receive credit. If an employer’s headquarters is not located in a participating state, their JMU student intern may not receive credit. See the JMU and State Authorization website for a current list of participating states.

While all JMU students are encouraged to participate in an internship, students that need an internship for completion of their academic program requirements may seek out employers located within member states.

Questions?

Please visit the JMU Office of the Provost’s website on JMU and State Authorization for more information. You may also contact Sarah MacDonald or Kristi Shackelford.

Posting Your Internships on Recruit-A-Duke

Posting your internship on Recruit-A-Duke is the best way to connect JMU students with your internship opportunities. The following are tips for a successful internship posting that appeals to JMU students:

  • Select “Internship – Paid” or “Internship – Unpaid.” This must be one or the other, as students want to know if they will be paid or not. Keep in mind the information above, which explains that offering internship credit hours does not equal paying students, as they would in turn be paying for the internship credits. Our office encourages employers to pay students for their internship work.
  • Provide a detailed internship description. List as much information about the internship as possible, especially the internship tasks and if the internship is in the fall, spring, or summer. By doing so, students will have a better understanding of your opportunity and will more likely apply. 
  • List the compensation in the “Salary” section. If an internship is paid, students will take this information into account. They also may be deterred to apply if the salary is not provided, when the internship is listed as paid. 
  • Include the internship location. Location is a major factor that students take into account when searching for internship opportunities. Students will intern in and around Harrisonburg, VA during the academic year, but in the summer, students are open to internships elsewhere.
Promoting Your Internship

Our office can assist you in promoting your internship to JMU students. The following are strategies that you and our office can accomplish to promote your internship opportunities: 

  • Post a Recruit-A-Duke announcement. Contact our team to promote your internship posting through an announcement, which will appear on students’ Recruit-A-Duke homepage. This is an excellent option, as we can filter the announcement to reach your target students. 
  • Share on Career & Academic Planning’s social media sites. Our office has many social media accounts on which we can promote your internship, which are linked on the left sidebar. This will reach a wide variety of JMU students, as well as the JMU community. 
  • Reach out to our liaisons to majors that you hope to reach. Our liaison will promote your internship in their correspondence (emails, newsletters, etc.) with their students and reach out to faculty in the major(s) in which you are hoping to find your intern.
  • Connect with student organizations. 
    • View the list of JMU student organizations. You may send a message to the primary contact through the website, but if you don't receive a response, contact us for additional contact information.
    • Present to a student organization on a professional topic. Offer to present on a professional development topic such as resume writing, interviewing, or networking.
    • Use LinkedIn to connect with JMU departments and student organizations. Many JMU departments and student organizations have active LinkedIn groups that can be an excellent place to advertise internship positions. JMU School of Media Arts & DesignJMU College of Business, and JMU Phi Epsilon Kappa are just a few.
  • Request promotion. You can request additional promotion for your internship opportunity on our website.
  • Request a consultation. You can also request a consultation with our staff to discuss additional ways of reaching JMU students.

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