GVSU Career Center

Internship FAQs

How many credits should I register for?

For most departments at GVSU, 1 credit hour equals 50 hours of work at your internship (so a 3-credit internship would require you to work 150 hours or 10 hours per week throughout the semester). You will want to check with your academic department to make sure you are meeting the minimal requirements. But don’t pay for more credits than you need to. For example, if you are working 300 hours over the course of the semester but only need 3 credit hours, don’t feel like you have to register for 6 credits.

Are internships paid?

This really depends on the employer and the industry. Some internships may provide an hourly rate, stipend, or reimbursement for expenses, while others may be unpaid.

The U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act, which applies to all companies that have at least two employees directly engaged in interstate commerce and annual sales of at least $500,000.00 (for-profit organizations), severely restricts an employer’s ability to use unpaid interns or trainees. It does not limit an employer’s ability to hire paid interns. Employers do not have to pay interns who qualify as learners or trainees (i.e., are receiving college credit). The U.S. Department of Labor has outlined six criteria for determining trainee status:

  1. Interns cannot displace regular employees
  2. Interns are not guaranteed a job at the end of the internship (though you may decide to hire them at the conclusion of the experience)
  3. Interns are not entitled to wages during the internship
  4. Interns must receive training from your organization, even if it somewhat impedes the work
  5. Interns must get hands-on experience with equipment and processes used in your industry
  6. Interns’ training must primarily benefit them, not the organization

Can I do an international internship?

Yes! International internships are no different than domestic internships in most cases. Just be aware that you may have to be more resourceful in your research and jump through a bit more hoops than if you were looking for a U.S.-based internship. Many countries have work visa/permit requirements, while others may be unfamiliar with the concept of an internship.

You can speak with the GVSU’s Padnos International Center or the Career Center for additional resources. There are also programs available to help you find an international internship, similar to that of a study abroad program. These programs typically charge a fee which may cover the internship placement costs, housing accommodations, transportation to/from airport, and possibly meals.

Do I qualify for worker’s compensation, insurance, or unemployment?

Employers are not required to provide worker’s compensation for interns; however, it is in the company’s best interest to do so. As an intern, you are protected against any form of discrimination or harassment; however, you do not typically qualify for unemployment as internships are seen as temporary positions. Interns generally do not qualify for any sort of insurance or benefits.

What if my internship isn’t what I thought it would be?

Be open with your supervisor about what you want to get out of the experience from the very beginning. If you feel like you need more challenging work or don’t have enough to do, then discuss this with your supervisor right away.

Can I quit my internship?

An internship is just like a job, so you can quit (and/or be terminated). If possible, try working things out with your supervisor before ending your position. If you do decide to leave, it is proper etiquette to give your employer at least two weeks’ notice.  If you are receiving academic credit, you’ll want to also touch base with your faculty internship coordinator right away.

Page last modified June 10, 2014