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Introduction

The Monterey Bay Internships (MBI) website, mbinterns.org, is designed to accommodate both students seeking internships and employers recruiting interns. The site makes it easy for students and employers to connect. However, simply making the connection between the two is not enough. Students are in need of meaningful and productive work experiences that will enable them to be competitive in the job market upon graduation.

The goal of the Employer Toolkit is to give employers in the Monterey Bay area the tools and guidance they need to provide a fulfilling internship opportunity for students. By providing a quality internship experience for students, employers not only play a critical role in maximizing the benefits to students, but they also increase their return on investment.

What is an Internship?

An internship is any carefully monitored, meaningful work experience in which students have intentional professional goals and reflect on what they are accomplishing throughout the process. The goal of MBI is to prepare the next generation of workers to gain experience to seamlessly transition into the workforce. Additionally, many employers find it beneficial to train or give specialized knowledge to interns in an attempt to assimilate them into their organization in the future. Ideally, an internship is an investment in not only the student’s future but the company’s future as well.

Internships are Not

  • Free labor
  • Mainly busywork
  • A burden on a current employee’s schedule
  • A replacement of a regular employee’s position

Internships are Defined as

  • A predetermined duration agreed upon by the student and the organization prior to hire
  • Responsibilities assigned from the employer are in alignment with the student’s learning objectives
  • Opportunity to earn academic credit, if applicable, based on college offerings
  • A flexible work schedule to accommodate the student’s academic schedule
  • Professional training is given by the employer that supports the student’s academic achievements
  • Predetermined compensation that is agreed upon prior to hiring; unpaid positions, particularly if they are designed to earn academic credit are suitable as well

Remote Internships

Remote internships can be done entirely online via web-based software such as Google Suites or Office 365 for email, online chat and meetings, and document sharing.  Tools such as Asana, Slack, or Trello can be used for project and task management. There are also tools like Symba, designed to identify and manage your entire remote internship experience. A business number to manage calls, voicemail, and text can be wired to a personal mobile via virtual phone systems such as a VoIP system. Examples of remote internships include, but are not limited to, the following: accounting, customer service, graphic design, content writing, statistics, data analysis, research, grant writing, social media & digital marketing, web editing, business administration, human resources, and IT support.

Read more:

7 Reason to Consider the Virtual Internship

Summer Internship Programs Are Going Virtual—Is Yours?

Benefits of Remote Internships

Remote internship opportunities remove barriers such as geography: remote work increases the number of internship opportunities students can explore and access despite their location, transportation: remote work enables students to work more hours, especially for those who would typically have to spend additional time commuting in a car or on public transit, scheduling: remote work allows students and employers more flexibility to work around their schedules; this is especially important for those who have additional priorities such as part-time work, rigorous academics, or families to care for and office space and equipment: for small companies, many of which operate under physical constraints, remote internships is an excellent option for bringing on talent without having to designate desk space, parking or additional office equipment.

Remote internships offer convenience and scale: proper organization and technology make it easier for employers to scale up the number of candidates and oversee multiple interns at once, accountability: with appropriate task management software, employers can see exactly what tasks are being completed as remote interns are accountable for handling their own schedules and finishing tasks in a timely manner, productivity: this type of task-oriented work can increase productivity and results as remote interns are more incentivized to complete tasks so they can do other things. It is important to set clear deadlines for tasks so they know when and how their work will be evaluated.

Miscommunication and disconnection can happen, so it is equally important to maintain clear lines of consistent communication and to ensure interns feel included, supported, and part of a team. Remote productivity often depends on their own self-management and motivation – it is important to offer tools and resources that cultivate this.

Legal Issues for Employers

Unpaid Internships

While internships provide various benefits to employers and students, unpaid interns are at risk of being taken advantage of financially. Employers who exhibit a failure to fairly compensate employees for their work are at risk of legal repercussions. It is essential that all employers are fully aware of rules and regulations regarding internships, both paid and unpaid. More information can be found at the US Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) website and on Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act.

Workers’ Compensation

Paid employees and interns follow the same legal standards under employment law. Paid interns should be covered under workers’ compensation. Unpaid interns technically do not need to be covered by workers’ compensation but there is a risk to an employer should an incident/injury happen.

Employers working with interns are encouraged to be aware of their workers’ compensation benefits responsibility and consult with their Human Resources Department and/or workers’ compensation carrier. More information can be found at the State of California Department of Industrial Relations Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) Employing Apprentices and FAQs.

The Benefits of Internships

Benefits to Students

  • Determine a career path
  • Apply knowledge learned in the classroom
  • Gain valuable work experience to strengthen resume
  • Build a network and find mentors
  • Competitive advantage in the job market

Benefits to Employers

  • Ongoing pipeline of trained employees
  • Support and mentor students
  • Increase productivity and provide management opportunities for mid-level staff
  • Engage with community
  • Establish good relationships with local colleges and universities
  • Add extra resources to your team in a cost-effective manner

Benefits to the Community

  • Fosters a more professional workforce
  • Encourages local talent to stay in the area
  • Strengthens employer ties to education which promote alignment of supply and demand for skills
  • Determine healthy career pathways

Special Populations to Consider (that you can help)!

Assess Your Need and Capacity for Internships

Conducting a self-assessment on your needs and expectations is critical to a successful internship program. Ask the following questions:

  • What are your particular areas of need (e.g. social media and marketing support, website maintenance, administrative and HR support)?
  • How will this add value to the organization and intern?
  • What type of experience and interest do you want your intern to have?
  • What is a realistic time commitment to fulfill the areas of need?
  • Do you have the capacity to financially compensate an intern (hourly pay, stipend, or commission)?
  • Do you have the capacity to reimburse expenses or mileage for travel – what are those limits?
  • Describe the projects and responsibilities you hope to accomplish during the internship.
  • Determine which tasks are one-time projects with specific tangible deliverables such as a report, handbook, presentation, an article, a web page, etc. and which are ongoing tasks like daily social media postings or creating weekly blogs.

Use the mbinterns.org site Post an Internship criteria to ensure you have all the relevant components for creating an internship opportunity:

  • Internship title
  • Internship type, industry, functions
  • Salary level
  • Length of internship
  • Minimum hours per week
  • Description
  • Qualifications
  • Responsibilities

Start Your Recruitment

There are a number of recruitment strategies. When you post to mbinterns.org, you can reach all of the colleges and universities in the Monterey Bay region at once as opposed to posting on each school’s job board individually.

Before you begin recruitment, think of ways to advertise benefits to candidates, especially if you are not able to financially compensate your intern(s). Examples may include but are not limited to, creating a rewards program (see appendix for Sample Stipend Rewards Program) with criteria for the intern to fulfill to qualify or earn a stipend at the end of the internship; offering professional and technical training, networking opportunities, and recognizing and celebrating the intern’s work in company newsletters, publications or staff meetings and presentations. These are things worth mentioning in your internship posting.

Sample Internship Posting

Click here for an example of how internship postings look on the mbinterns.org site.  Be sure to complete each section, add your company logo, and link your company’s social media and website.

College Calendars

Not sure when to begin your recruitment for interns?  Reviewing the colleges’ calendars to find out when classes start is a helpful way to plan your recruitment.  Students interested in earning credit will need to secure their internship prior to the add/drop deadlines for that quarter or semester. Plan your recruitment at least a quarter/semester before the start of the internship. You can also contact the college’s internship coordinator or field study coordinator at each college or major department for more information.

Cabrillo College

CSU Monterey Bay

Gavilan College

Hartnell College

Middlebury Institute of International Studies

Monterey Peninsula College

UC Santa Cruz

Interview Best Practices

What You Can and Cannot Ask During an Interview

State and federal laws have been established to prohibit discrimination in the workplace and the hiring process. The process used for hiring interns must also comply with all employment regulations. There are many questions that legally cannot be asked during an interview. Ask legal interview questions that illuminate the candidate’s strengths, weaknesses, experience, and skills to determine job fit. Avoid illegal interview questions that could make your company the target of a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lawsuit. You’ll want to avoid asking any job interview questions that focus on any aspect of the candidate’s personal life. Click here for Illegal Interview Questions and EEO Guidelines.

Types of Legal Interview Questions

  • What is your current (or previous) salary?
  • What is your expected salary?
  • What do you expect to accomplish in the first 30, 60, and 90 days on the job?
  • What people or companies are doing the best job in our industry? Why?
  • Why are you leaving your current role?

Types of Illegal Interview Questions

  • Are you Hispanic?
  • Do you go to church?
  • How much do you weigh?
  • How old are you?
  • What country are you from?
  • Are you pregnant?
  • How many children do you have?
  • Are you married?
  • When do you plan to retire?
  • What is your religion?
  • Are you comfortable working for a male/female boss?
  • What political party do you support?
  • Have you had any recent health issues?

Hire and Manage Your Intern

Internship Agreement

It is highly recommended that employees and interns have an agreement (see appendix for Sample Internship Agreement). Agreements should include the intern’s responsibilities, learning outcomes, hours and duration of internship, and any other relevant items that need to be agreed upon, prior to the start of the internship. Determine whether the internship will be paid or unpaid, includes a stipend, part-time or full-time and if the student will be earning academic credit and indicate that within the agreement. Once the agreement is completed, send your intern an official welcome letter (see appendix for  Sample Welcome Letter) many times an intern will need this documentation to complete their academic credit enrollment.

Orientation

Getting an intern acclimated to the workplace is an important first step. It is best not to overwhelm the intern with too much information on the first day. Orientation programs should be set up as an ongoing process, not a one-day event. The biggest investment required for internships to be successful is your time and mentorship to guide interns through projects and tasks.

Be sure to include orientation hours as time worked (see the appendix for Sample Intern Timesheet). Build in flexibility throughout the internship to accommodate any academic, personal, and other professional priorities and changes. Start with a general range of hours per week, then determine a schedule with the intern during recruitment or at the start of the internship.

Remote-Work Orientation

Here are some suggestions on how to best structure an effective remote-work internship:

  • Send a welcome email to the intern prior to the first day, including start date and access to accounts & passwords they’ll need to use
  • Create a list of items that need to be covered on the first day
  • Show the intern an organizational chart and contact information for staff they’ll be working with
  • Describe the organization’s culture and online professional expectations
  • Communicate how the intern will fit in with the organization and how you’ll be checking in (e.g. via phone, online meetings, etc.)
  • Ensure that the manager has ample time to dedicate to the intern on the first day

In-Person Orientation

Plan on spending time with the intern to help get them oriented and feel welcome in the office. Here are some suggestions on how to best structure an effective in-person orientation:

  • Send a welcome email to the intern prior to the first day, including start date and arrival time, directions and parking information, and frequently asked questions from previous interns
  • Create a list of items that need to be covered on the first day
  • Show the intern an organizational chart  and contact information for staff they’ll be working with
  • Describe the organization’s culture and professional expectations
  • Communicate how the intern will fit in with the organization
  • Ensure that the manager has ample time to dedicate to the intern on the first day

Managing Your Intern (In-Person or Remotely)

Set Goals

  • Determine which projects you would like to assign the intern
  • Decide the time commitment required for each project and agree upon intern’s schedule to complete
  • Be sure that the internship objective and training components are laid out ahead of time
  • Determine the areas of responsibility for the intern, within one functional area or across multiple areas

Create a Scope of Work

It is highly recommended that employees and interns create a scope of work for the intern (see appendix for Sample Internship Scope of Work). A scope of work should specify the goals, learning outcomes, timeline and parameters of a project or set of tasks. It can include project-level details such as any milestone deliverables, key stakeholders involved, a week-by-week timeline, and any limitations or considerations. It can also include any supplemental agreements or resources needed to fulfill the project or tasks efficiently and effectively such as confidentiality, media release agreements, or direct links to documents. A Scope of Work is a fluid and iterative document that should be monitored regularly and any changes can be discussed and reviewed by the employer and intern.

Monitor Your Intern

  • Select a supervisor/mentor who will work closely with the intern within the organization
  • Set-up an ongoing check-in with your intern (daily, weekly, bi-weekly); frequent check-ins are recommended
  • Assign your intern challenging and skill-building tasks
  • Provide relevant trainings and professional opportunities
  • Provide opportunities for interns to share work with the company and/or present (e.g. at staff meetings, company workshops/ presentations)
  • Provide networking opportunities for interns to connect internally and externally through your company
  • Review work and provide appropriate feedback in a timely manner

Exit Interviews

Exit interviews are valuable because they provide feedback to an organization about the internship program that it is providing. The organization can determine whether the experience was a positive one for the intern and if any changes should be made to the position. Exit interviews are fantastic resources for the success of future interns. View the steps and questions below for reference.

Exit Interview Steps

  1. Explain the purpose of the exit interview and that you will be taking notes
  2. Encourage the student to be as candid as possible
  3. Begin with less sensitive questions to put the student at ease
  4. Ask the student if they have any remaining questions or suggestions for improving the internship program
  5. Receive back any company property (i.e. work laptop, collateral, etc.) if applicable
  6. Conclude by thanking the student for their time and honesty

Exit Interview Questions

  1. Did you feel the work was a valuable experience in relation to your studies?
  2. Were your assignments aligned with your career goals?
  3. Were you given responsibilities enabling you to apply knowledge and skills? Briefly note the new skills, techniques, and knowledge gained in this position.
  4. Do you feel you had the training, resources, and support necessary to perform assigned tasks?
  5. Were you allowed to take the initiative to work beyond the basic requirements of the job?
  6. What was the least satisfying about your internship?
  7. What was most satisfying about your internship?
  8. If you could make a change to the internship program, what would you change?
  9. Was there anything that was not covered that should have been covered in the internship program?
  10. Would you recommend this internship to other students?
  11. What do you believe the next step is in your profession and how can we help you get there?
  12. Is there anything else you would like to share?


Appendix

Download Employer Toolkit

PDF DOC

  1. Sample Welcome Letter (PDF) | (DOC)
  2. Sample Stipend Rewards Program (PDF) | (DOC)
  3. Sample Internship Agreement (PDF) | (DOC)
  4. Sample Internship Scope of Work(PDF) | (DOC)
  5. Sample Intern Timesheet (PDF) | (DOC)