To ensure that an experience - whether it is a traditional internship or one conducted remotely or virtually - is educational and thus eligible to be considered a legitimate internship by the National Association of Colleges and Employers definition, all the following criteria must be met:

1. 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.
2. The skills or knowledge learned must be transferable to other employment settings.
3. The experience has a defined beginning and end and a job description with desired qualifications.
4. There are clearly defined learning objectives/goals related to the professional goals of the student's academic coursework.
5. There is supervision by a professional with expertise and educational and/or professional background in the field of the experience.
6. There is routine feedback by the experienced supervisor.
7. There are resources, equipment, and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning objectives/goals.

If these criteria are followed, it is the opinion of NACE that the experience can be considered a legitimate internship. If your unpaid internship meets the 7 criteria listed above, please post your position in Handshake, our online recruiting system.

The Department of Labor and Hour Division has established a six factor test for determining whether work is legitimately volunteer training/unpaid internship (for which no pay or work authorization is required) or whether it is employment (for which pay and work authorization is required). If all six of the following criteria apply, the trainees are not employees within the meaning of the Fair Labor Standards Act and are properly classified as unpaid volunteers/unpaid interns. Review Legal question and answers.

1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the employer's facilities, is similar to training that would be given in a vocational school
2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the student.
3. The intern does not displace regular employees but works under the close observation of a regular employee.
4. The employer provides the training and derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern. Occasionally, the operations may actually be impeded.
5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship.
6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time in the internship.

In order to guide employers and students to create a mutually beneficial internship experience, feel free to use the following Internship Contract as a resource.

Cooperative Education is an academic program that enables students to gain experience, networking opportunities, and academic credit in addition to earning a competitive wage. Employers have opportunities to evaluate students' skills prior to consideration for a full-time job offer and to develop valuable partnerships with faculty and staff.

Want to learn more about Co-op?