/ Internships

Workforce: Internships

Getting Started:

Frequent Questions

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), an internship is a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with
practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Internships give students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths; and give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent.

Internships must include specific learning objectives for the student. In the classroom, students build knowledge from lectures, assigned reading, exams, and class projects. Through internships, student interns learn through the practical application of what was gained in the classroom. To be truly defined as an internship, the experience must be:

  • Related to the intern’s intended career field or coursework.
  • Facilitated by an internship supervisor who provides regular constructive guidance, evaluation, and feedback.
  • Targeted toward a learning objective, which the intern engages in and reflects upon throughout the course of the internship.

You can post your internship position(s) on Handshake. To register your company and contact information in Handshake, go to: https://app.joinhandshake.com/register and click Employer. Once you have created an account in the system and you’re vetted/approved by each school, you will be able to post your role. Once your internship is posted, it will be reviewed for approval by staff members at each school. Pending approval, the internship will be available for students to view and apply. Students are not placed in internships; they must search Handshake to find opportunities.

Employers interested in hosting interns must provide the following:

  • Physical office space (office space cannot be located inside the home)
  • General liability insurance coverage (consult with your insurance provider or legal team for verification)
  • Direct in-person supervision • Compliance with Fair Labor
    Standards Act

Though similar to a part-time or full-time job description, internship position descriptions should also disclose learning outcomes. When interns recognize the value in the internship and understand the professional growth opportunities available, your target applicant pool will grow. Be as detailed as possible in your position description to convey an accurate picture of how the student can increase their knowledge/skill set, and be an asset to your organization.

The answer to whether you must pay an intern can be found in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This is based on whether the intern/student is an employee under FLSA and who the primary beneficiary is between the intern and host site. The
Department of Labor has developed seven criteria for identifying the primary beneficiary. All seven factors must be met to post an unpaid internship:

  1. The extent to which the intern and the employer clearly understand that there
    is no expectation of compensation. Any promise of compensation, express or implied, suggests that the intern is an employee—and vice versa.
  2. The extent to which the internship provides training that would be similar to that which would be given in an educational environment, including the clinical and other hands-on training provided by educational institutions.
  3. The extent to which the internship is tied to the intern’s formal education program by integrated coursework or the receipt of academic credit.
  4. The extent to which the internship accommodates the intern’s academic commitments by corresponding to the academic calendar.
  5. The extent to which the internship’s duration is limited to the period in which the internship provides the intern with
  6. The extent to which the intern’s work complements, rather than displaces, the work of paid employees while providing significant educational benefits to the intern.
  7. The extent to which the intern and the employer understand that the internship is conducted without entitlement to a paid job at the conclusion of the internship.

Compliance with FLSA is a requirement to participate in internship programs at any school. It is the sole responsibility of the employer/ host site to determine if this criterion is met. Please consult legal counsel or the Department of Labor if more information or clarification is needed.

** The majority of internships are paid and students are presented with an abundance of internship opportunities.

The compensation varies from industry to industry. Academic credit is not a form of compensation. (Students that choose to enroll in their internship for academic credit have to pay for the course.) Interns that are paid must at least meet the state’s minimum wage criteria. However, to attract the most desirable candidates, competitive compensation is recommended. To ensure that your internship is in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act, review Internship Programs under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Internship host sites that spend time on campus building their brand typically have the
most applicants. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Contact the Employer
Services Department of the schools you are interested in engaging more with.

The student should assume most of the responsibility when completing an internship
for academic credit. However, you may be asked to complete an Internship Request
Form, which includes intern supervisor, student responsibilities, projects, learning
objectives, verification of liability insurance, compliance with FLSA, etc. Each school
manages for-credit internships a bit differently, but you will likely be asked to complete an evaluation of the student’s performance, verify hours worked, or provide
additional documentation. Please be sure to understand the deadlines for such materials, and to provide them in a timely fashion. Your student intern can provide more detail on what their school requires. Each school also has specific pre-requisites that are required for students to be eligible to earn academic credit for
an internship. Requirements can be viewed at www.ut.edu/internships/academiccredit.

Internships typically start within the first three weeks of the academic semester and last the duration of the semester (14 weeks during fall/spring semesters, 12 weeks during summer).

No. The independent contractor designation is not appropriate for interns. Independent Contractors are hired because of their expertise in a given area and are expected to produce certain results. That arrangement is a direct contradiction to the main purpose of an internship, which should be to learn.

It is recommended that you coordinate some type of onboarding orientation for your
intern(s) similar to how you would treat a new part-time or full-time staff member.
Items for inclusion could be a history of your organization, explanation or organizational structure, rules, policies, expectations, and a review of the student’s learning objectives and goals. You will also be responsible for providing the necessary equipment/materials for the intern to successfully complete their internship (computer, office space, applicable software, etc.)

Writing Your Ad

Best Practices

Before you can post your position online you will need to write a great description. The University of South Florida has provided an excellent example.

You can Click Here to download a sample description that may help you get an idea of what students will see when they view your ad on the Handshake website.

Organization’s Contact Information:

ABC Business
# Employees
Industry Pay Range

Description of Internship:

A brief description of your company or organization (are you especially known for a particular concept or service? Won awards recently? Have an incredible office set up?) and of the position itself (fast-paced work? Methodical and detail-driven responsibilities? High-profile projects?). Length of internship (# of weeks, # of hours per week).

Intern Responsibilities:

The description of duties should be responsibility and project-focused, with tasks involved with those areas representing transferable skillset clusters as opposed to isolated tasks. Categories of what might be included in the position description:

  • Responsibilities: these are the things that the intern will learn about as part of day in-day out operation of the business, relating to the work-flow and services of the organization
  • Projects: projects can be activities that the intern has the leadership of or participates as part of a team.
  • Competencies: Skills sets built within clusters that may be specific to an industry, organization, or role. Special qualifications: (The skill sets the student needs to possess – such as proficiency with MS Excel.)

Transferable Skill Development Areas:

What skill sets will the intern develop as part of the experience that will build their resume/portfolio (data management, customer service, etc.).

Training & Development Opportunities:

HR training, on-the-job training, etc.

Other Requirements of the Position:

Physical requirements, Travel, Attire (e.g., business casual, business professional, etc.)


  • Allowed School Years
  • Allowed Majors (to share your position with more students, consider multiple majors that could meet the skill sets required for your position).
  • Department/Major/Career Focus: (E.g., accounting, sports marketing, business management, etc.)
  • Work Authorization

Posting Your Ad

Handshake makes posting your ad simple. These two easy steps will get you up and running in no time.
View both videos at WorkforceConnectPasco.com/handshake.

Getting Started With Handshake

Developing and posting your internship ad is a relatively simple process. The video to the left will walk you through how to setup your employer account.

Adding Your Description

Great! Now that you have an account and selected the schools you would like to recruit from it is time to Post your first internship ad.

Local Colleges/Universities That use Handshake

  • Pasco Hernando State College
  • Saint Leo University
  • Florida Polytechnic University
  • St. Petersburg College
  • The University of Tampa
  • Rasmussen College