Many of the College of Design programs either strongly encourage or require students to complete an internship. The Student Services office is here to help students through this process, from guidance on identifying areas and associated organizations of interest, to pursuing and negotiating opportunities.
Once a student has secured an internship, particularly if for credit, our office provides students and employers with documents and steps to ensure that all parties understand expectations and desired outcomes before the internship begins. We also are here as a resource both for employers and students during the duration of the internship, should questions or a need for support arise.
How Does a Job Differ from an Internship?
|Goal: Gain entry to income career path||Goal: Gain direct work experience in chosen field|
|Required skills: Specified skills aligned with job requirements and pay scale||Required skills: Specific skills identified and brokered as trade for mentorship and learning opportunity|
|Level of commitment: High—typically 2-weeks' minimum notice for termination, longer for more professional levels||Level of commitment: Committed period of time|
|Pay rate: Typically adjusted by industry and skill or experience level||Pay rate: From none to paid; other benefits negotiable such as stipend, travel, housing, access to resources or events|
NOTE: The field of Architecture typically uses the term "Internship" to define a paid professional position after graduation as an "Intern Architect." However, students in architecture do participate in paid experiential learning during the academic year, and these positions are sometimes referred to as "internships" but are at the student level. Check with your department to clarify current policy on pregraduation paid and unpaid, credit and non/credit experiences and consult with NCARB for regulations toward licensure.
Academic Credit: How do I earn it for my internship?
Some employers require that you are enrolled as a student and earn academic credit while completing their internship. If your internship site does not require this, then it is up to you to decide if you want to pursue (and pay for) academic credit for your internship. An internship, regardless of credit option, is a valuable experience to help you explore career paths, build new skills, and broaden your professional network. However, if credit will contribute towards what you need to complete your degree requirements, you might want to consider registering for credit.
Academic credit for internships in the College of Design is offered by multiple departments. Typically, students either seek credit through their major department (e.g. ART 404/604) or through the College of Design Student Services office (DSGN 404/604). Students might opt for DSGN credit if their major department does not offer credit for internships or if their internship aligns with their career exploration goals but not with the academic content expectations of the department.
If you have questions about pursuing academic credit and would like to understand how the different types of internship credit will apply towards your degree, meet with a College of Design Academic Advisor.
Once you receive an offer from your internship site:
To enroll in department internship credit, e.g. ART 404
Inquire with your department’s administrative office for required paperwork and procedures. For some departments, you will need to find a faculty member within your department to supervise your internship and approve your registration for the course and credit hours.
To enroll in DSGN 404/604 (through the College of Design Student Services office)
- Contact the DSGN 404/604 faculty to review your internship and the forms you will be required to complete.
- Fill out the Internship Learning Agreement which will be completed by you and your site supervisor.
- Submit your completed Internship Learning Agreement no later than Friday, Week 9 of the term PRIOR to when you will begin your internship.
- Once the DSGN 404/604 faculty reviews and approves your Internship Learning Agreement you will be preauthorized for the course.
- Log into Duckweb and enroll in DSGN 404 (undergraduate students) or 604 (graduate students). This course is variable credit so you will need to change the credit to reflect the amount indicated in your Internship Learning Agreement. Typically, you will earn 1 credit for every 30 hours worked at your internship (approximately 3 hours weekly for a 10-week term). Some academic departments and DSGN require coursework in addition to the work completed at your internship site. In the case of graduate credit, some graduate programs require 40 hours per credit.
Compensation: Do I get paid?
Some internship sites will compensate their interns while other sites choose not to or simply don't have the resources to do so. Compensation can take the form of an hourly salary, a one-time stipend, housing, reimbursement for travel expenses, or organization perks (e.g., tickets to their events).
As an applicant, you will need to decide what you are comfortable with in terms of compensation. Some students are able to participate in an unpaid internship while others need to be paid in order to meet their monthly expenses. Other students might intern part-time (unpaid) and work another part-time job (paid). Consider your individual circumstances to evaluate what you can afford.
Know that you can always ask about compensation even if it isn't mentioned. When negotiating, which is typically done after you and the organization have decided that a match has been found. Approach this with an attitude of compromise and finding a solution that works for you and the company.
If you are pursuing an unpaid internship, federal guidelines for unpaid internships have been created to help protect an unpaid intern and ensure that the experience is about learning for the student rather than unpaid labor for the company. When evaluating an internship, consider how the company's internship measures up to these expectations.
Federal guidelines for unpaid internships from the US Department of Labor:
There are some circumstances under which individuals who participate in "for-profit" private sector internships or training programs may do so without compensation.
The following six criteria must be applied when making this determination:
- The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training that would be given in an educational environment
- The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern
- The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff
- The employer who provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded
- The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship
- The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship
What is an internship learning agreement?
It is important to know what is expected of both you and your site supervisor during the internship. Additionally, to ensure that you gain the skills and knowledge you want from your internship, it is important to create learning goals for your experience and talk with the supervisor about what you would like to accomplish. To help you understand expectations and create goals, Student Services offers a Learning Agreement that you can use for your internship.
Use the agreement to help structure a conversation with your site supervisor. You might review student and supervisor responsibilities together and discuss your goals. Your supervisor may be able to help you come up with onsite tasks that will help you meet your goals.
What is liability?
Liability refers to responsibility for you and your actions while on site (e.g., if you are in an accident). If you are employed (paid by your employer for your internship) by your site, then the company will cover you, as they will with all of their employees. You should check with your site supervisor to determine if the organization or company provides this coverage for interns.
The Internship Learning Agreement contains a liability statement stipulating that the university is not liable for interns. However, if required by the internship provider, the university may be able to provide liability insurance for specific cases (the internship must meet certain criteria).
Please contact the University Office of Risk Services to find out more information.
What is international travel insurance?
If you are traveling abroad for your internship (not through an IE3 internship), consider purchasing travel insurance offered through the University Office of Safety and Risk Services. This insurance coverage includes accident and sickness, security evacuation, emergency medical evacuation, trip cancellation, trip interruption, and travel assistance.
Visit our Find Jobs and Internships page to find links to sites that may offer internship and/or job opportunities.
Take a class to explore interests, prepare for and conduct the internship search (1- and 2-credit classes available).