Why Choose NMU Interns?
NMU students are passionate and driven. Around one-third of our students are involved in our nationally recognized leadership programs —Superior Edge and the Student Leader Fellowship Program. They put in about 300,000 volunteer hours each year, worth about $6.3 million (value determined by the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics and calculated by Independent Sector).
From students to faculty and staff, NMU is dedicated to the importance of community engagement and service learning opportunities as well. We are one of about 300 higher education institutions in the nation to earn the Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Our students and staff volunteer more than 100,000 hours in the community each year and partner with local groups through service learning courses.
NMU is a regional comprehensive university of approximately 9,000 students, offering 180 degree programs. The most popular majors are art and design, nursing, education, criminal justice and biology. Degrees range from the doctor of nursing practice to masters, bachelors, associate, certificate and diploma. NMU is the second most affordable of Michigan’s 15 public universities, and is the Upper Peninsula’s largest institution of higher education, one of its top five employers, with approximately 1,000 employees, and a major economic contributor to the region.
Not sure what to look for? Contact Career Services to discuss which majors might be the best fit for your internship position!
The mission of NMU Career Services is to assist NMU students and alumni with career exploration and job placement concerns.
We provide resources and services focused on assisting students with career placement and career decision-making activities linking NMU students and alumni with potential employers, teaching effective job-search strategies and providing supportive information and resources to faculty and staff in addressing the career-related concerns of students.
Internships give students an opportunity for applying what they’ve learned in a professional setting. Students make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths; and employers have the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent. Internships are carefully monitored and students have learning goals to help them make the connection between theory and practice.
- Reduce recruiting costs by evaluating prospective employees while they are working for you as interns.
- Interns supplement your current staff’s depth of industry knowledge and history with current technological skills and ideas from the classroom, as well as provide a fresh perspective and new ideas.
- Student interns are highly motivated and eager to learn all they can about your field.
- Taking on interns to handle entry-level concerns can free up your staff to pursue advanced projects.
- It’s relatively inexpensive; even paid interns typically have salaries that are significantly lower than employees.1=
- You’re also not obligated to pay unemployment or a severance package, if you decide against employing them full-time at the end of their term.
- You can create management opportunities for mid-level employees.
- Internship programs can create/strengthen connection to education to ensure that supply and demand of skill sets are properly aligned.
To qualify as an internship, all criteria must be met:
- The experience must be an extension of the classroom: a learning experience that provides for applying the knowledge gained in the classroom.
- The skills or knowledge learned must be transferable to other employment settings.
- The experience has a defined beginning and end, and a job description with desired qualifications.
- Internships have a typical duration of 3 to 12 months (semester, academic year, full year).
- There are clearly defined learning objectives/goals related to the professional goals of the student’s academic coursework.
- There is supervision by a professional with expertise and educational and/or professional background in the field of the experience.
- There is routine feedback by the experienced supervisor.
- There are resources, equipment, and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning objectives/goals.
- NMU-arranged, non-paid, credit-earning.*
- These are usually called a “practicum,” “clinical,” or “student teaching,” and occur most often in Education, Health Services or Social Work disciplines with multiple students at an agency.
- Individual student-arranged, non-paid, credit-earning experiences.*
- Individual student-arranged, paid, credit-earning experiences.
- The key factor in types 2 and 3 is that students assume an active role in obtaining the placement. Students pursue these most often through job postings or opportunities through existing NMU agency relationships.
- Different majors/departments have varying requirements regarding pay, but ultimately, an internship must be academically relevant, especially if it is unpaid. Please visit our listing of major requirements.
- Individual student-arranged non-credit earning experiences, paid or unpaid.
- These are experiences where students do not need credit or do not desire to pay for credit, but want the formal work experience. These may outwardly appear to be exactly like Types 2 or 3; the difference is students do not earn credit.
*Be certain to read sections on Legal & Liability concerns
Developing an Internship
Set Goals & Policies for Your Internship Program
What is the main goal of your company’s internship program?
- To market your organization and raise awareness of your organization to the community and potential customers?
- To create a talent pipeline?
- To fill short term capacity issues?
Once you establish the goal of your program and reason(s) for existence, you can get started by:
- Look at current business activities and consider what ongoing work you would like to expand or projects you would like to initiate or complete.
- Consider projects that are beneficial to your organization and provide challenging learning experiences for interns/volunteers.
- Examine your company’s recruiting needs (i.e. employees retiring, departments that are expecting growth, adding positions as a result of recovering from a recession, demand for new/emerging required skill sets, or positions that are difficult to recruit or hire for).
Who will supervise and mentor the intern?
Intern supervisors/mentors do not have to be the President, CEO or Human Resource (HR) Manager. In fact, very seldom are they the appropriate supervisors for interns. Top-level managers approve the establishment of an internship program, after which the HR department ensures that proper documentation and recruiting processes are in place, including job descriptions, work plans and confidentiality agreements. At that point, it can be up to various department managers to identify who will supervise/mentor the intern.
Recommended supervisor/mentor criteria:
- A supervisor should be selected because he/she likes to teach or train and has the resources to do so. The supervisor will help the intern keep their project on time and on budget.
- The mentor may be a department head, project leader, long-time employee or acting supervisor who is knowledgeable about the project on which the intern will work and can provide orientation and wisdom to the student.
Will you pay the intern?
- Determine ahead of time if you will be able to compensate your intern, and make it clear up-front.
- Compensation could be in the form of an hourly wage or a stipend. Be sure to incorporate a strong training component into your program; ensuring the presence of a training component will justify unpaid internships.
- In addition to, or in lieu of stipends or wages, you may also be able to provide funding for the student to go through training program(s). USDOL has outlined six criteria that for-profit companies must consider for clarification of unpaid internships.
- Please see the Liability and Legal Concerns section below for more information on what may apply best in your case. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Career Services.
- Also note that different majors/departments have varying requirements. Please see the Department Information section for more information.
Write a Plan for the Internship
Learning Outcomes: Make sure to consider what the student needs to learn about your field. While the student and faculty will actually complete this section, you can make it easier for a student to obtain academic credit by taking this into consideration.
Learning Objectives: What are the specific educational goals, e.g. academic knowledge and career skills, to be obtained during this experience? This is unique per student experience.
Job Description: What are the planned responsibilities, e.g. tasks and activities, expected of the student and learning opportunities provided to the student that will help achieve the learning outcomes? (An agency/employer position description may be attached to supplement the answer below.)
Departmental Requirements: You should also look at the Departmental Requirements to make sure you meet them. If you have questions, you can always contact Career Services or visit the departmental directory.
Planning the Internship:
Create a Work Plan: Identify goals, timelines, and a general description of the project, which will become your work plan, so that everyone understands the purpose and expectations involved. There is a sample work plan provided here.
Projects can be specific to a department or position, or “floating” internships can be created. A “floating” intern can be utilized throughout different areas and departments of the organization.
- An example of a “floating” internship: Public Administration is a broad field in which students working toward a degree in Public Administration are qualified for positions in various areas of an organization; therefore, students would be great candidates for “floating” internships.
- Benefits of a “floating” internship:
- Students who have not identified a specific area of interest within a field are able to get experience in various departments in order to choose where to concentrate their career path.
- Builds engagement between the student and the organization, which can increase output.
- Increases communication between departments.
Create a Job Description:
Job descriptions will be used for the recruiting process. Job descriptions outline the requirements you are looking for in an ideal candidate and also help determine what skill sets are needed to fill the responsibilities required by the position.
Here is a job description template to help you get started. For specific majors/job types, a quick Google search of "job title, internship, sample posting" is a great place to start. If you need help, please don't hesitate to contact us!
Additional Ways to Involve Interns:
Further involvement can include training programs, social events, and opportunities to network with executives and other companies. Best practices for social events include:
- Inviting your intern to company sponsored events
- Considering organizing an end-of-the-program experience, such as participation in a golf outing or a lunch/reception with upper management.
- Having the intern shadow in other departments to familiarize them with your organization and expose them to opportunities outside of their original scope.
- Inviting your intern to Board meetings or other formal group settings to encourage networking with potential future employers.
Recruit a Qualified Intern
Now that you have started laying the foundation for your internship program by setting goals and developing work plans and job descriptions, it is time to begin the recruiting process. NMU has great resources for you to find the perfect intern!
Our full-service online system helps you streamline employment-related tasks:
- Posting jobs and internships
- Searching qualified candidates’ resumes and profiles
- Creating on-campus recruiting events
- Registering for career fairs
Create your free account at https://nmu.joinhandshake.com.
If you have questions about how to use Handshake, please check out the frequently asked questions on our e/careerservices/employers.
Enlist Our Help
We can take that extra step for you, and send targeted emails about your internship position – directly to the students you choose! Seniors in network computing, sophomores in graphic design, just let us know! We’ll also send the information to the relevant department heads and faculty.
All internships/jobs in the Upper Peninsula automatically post to our Twitter feed (@NMUCareerServic).
If you’re looking for recent grads for interns, we can help connect you with the NMU Alumni office and their extensive LinkedIn network.
Summer Employment Fair
Each February, we host the Summer Employment Fair – an event especially for employers who are looking for temporary/seasonal help, including full- and part-time summer employees or interns. For more information, log in to Handshake, or visit our job fairs page.
We can set up on-campus opportunities for you to get your information out to students, as well as interview interested students.
- Private interview rooms can be reserved for pre-scheduled or walk-in interviews
- Resume collection and forwarding
- Conference rooms for information sessions and/or group testing
Find out more here on our Employers page.
Consider using social media outlets to post information about openings and application procedures. To start, we particularly like:
Ideally, begin searching three to four months before you expect an intern to start working.
Give ample lead-time to potential candidates to apply and begin the screening/interview process.
Interview Your Candidates
Pre-interview - Analyze resumes:
- Check for signs of organization, clarity, and accuracy.
- Note involvement and roles in campus and community organizations.
- Look for accomplishments, patterns of progression, and growth
Choose interns just as carefully as you choose permanent employees. (In 2013, approximately 48.4% of students stayed on full-time upon graduation from college.)
Once you have determined your top candidates, arrange interviews in a timely manner (ideally within 3-5 days).
Sample Interview Questions:
- Why do you want to participate in an internship?
- Why are you interested in this specific internship opportunity?
- Why do you want to intern with our organization?
- How are you motivated?
- Give an example of a time that you went above and beyond the call of duty for a project, deadline or customer service situation. What were the results?
- Please explain your past experiences and why they have prepared you for this internship.
- What do you believe your current or most recent supervisor would say are your strengths and also areas that you need to work on?
- Give me an example of a time that your leadership skills stood out in a positive way.
**Questions asked of candidates for internship positions do not have to vary greatly from questions asked of candidates for regular employment positions.
Sample Interview Structure
1. Prepare Questions About:
- Specific coursework related to the position
- Knowledge or familiarity of equipment, techniques, computers, etc.
- Previous related experiences
2. Open the Interview (1-2 min)
- Build friendly rapport through small talk
- Tell a little about the organization
- Indicate that the intern will have an opportunity to ask questions later
3. Ask Questions/Gather Information (15 min)
- Use behavioral-type questions as well as open-ended questions
4. Allow for Questions and Comments (5 min)
- Answer honestly and illustrate with your own experiences, if possible
- Assess the quality of the intern’s questions
- Avoid giving answers that indicate a commitment to a position
- Be prepared to answer questions about the position, expected training, company structure, company products
5. Give Information (1-2 min)
- Briefly recap information about position
- Discuss candidate’s availability to ensure your needs will be met
- Discuss any academic requirements for course credit
6. Wrap-Up (1-2 min)
- Briefly describe the next steps
- Give an estimate of when the student will hear from you
- Avoid making statements that may be interpreted as a promise of employment
7. Evaluate the Candidate
- Review your notes before your next interview
- Be objective and base your decision on the evidence
8. Follow Up Promptly
- Send “no thank-you” letters to applicants who do not match your requirements
- Offer the position to the candidate that you have chosen
Managing an Internship
Be sure to sign documents to be returned to student’s Instructing Faculty. Determine which forms you need below, but note that most of the paperwork will need to be filled out by the student and faculty.
Getting started on the right foot will lay a good foundation for the intern’s experience. Using the work plan you have developed for the internship, consider setting up an orientation for your new intern.
Give your intern the resources he or she needs to do the job
A proper workstation, telephone with voicemail, computer and email account is vital to your intern’s success. Point out the supply room and introduce any appropriate personnel.
Monitor the intern’s progress
- Make sure you are aware of what is happening with their daily tasks.
- Keep in mind that this could be the student’s first work experience. When work is assigned, make sure it is given with a detailed explanation of expectations. A few extra minutes of explanation will pay off later when the intern produces good work independently.
- Help your intern set goals for completion of various tasks, including daily, weekly and monthly goals. This will help establish a solid work ethic for the intern.
Evaluate the intern’s progress periodically and give feedback
- Evaluations are important for the success of your intern’s experience. Processes differ and yours may be a formal written review given at the halfway point and at the end of the program, or it may be delivered over an occasional lunch with the intern.
- Different departments may require onsite visits or conference calls during the internship to facilitate evaluation for grading. The intern should be able to share with you what is expected and a representative from the department will contact you if this is a requirement for credit.
Required Paperwork for Setup and Evaluation
Note that you will be asked to sign documents which the student will need to return to her/his instructing faculty. Please see the table below for the appropriate documents needed, and note that most fields will need to be filled out by the student/faculty, and signed by you - so don't be intimidated by the paperwork!
Different departments may require onsite visits or conference calls during the internship to facilitate evaluation for grading. The intern should be able to share with you what is expected and a representative from the department will contact you if this is a requirement for credit. More than likely, a student will ask you to complete the Supervisor Evaluation Form, both at the mid-semester and at the end of the internship. Students will do the same to evaluate their experiences.
Conduct Exit Interview & Follow-Up
Understanding and considering the intern’s view of their experience will enable you to continue recruiting strong candidates for future openings. Using data and information collected at the end of each internship will allow an organization to make necessary adjustments to strengthen their internship program.
Proving the value of your internship program will require hard evidence that your organization is getting a return on its investment:
- Determine what aspects of the internship you want to measure and evaluate. Run an online search for sample evaluations you may be able to use. Note that evaluating the program from your perspective is different than what may be required for the student to receive academic credit.
- Have the intern conduct an exit presentation and provide feedback (if you had them conduct an entry presentation).
- Conduct an exit interview to determine if interns are leaving the organization with a good experience. This provides valuable feedback to upper management for future program planning and adjustments and a prompt response to external organizational messaging. See sample exit interview online.
In addition to qualitative measures, a number of quantitative measures can be developed:
- Common measures may include the number of interns that become full-time employees, the number of requests for interns within the company, and growing numbers of qualified intern applicants.
- In order to successfully measure your program outcome, you should return to the stated program goals and address those outcomes.
It may be beneficial to include department managers, the intern’s supervisor, and the human resource manager in the exit interview.
Liability and Legal Concerns
Paid vs. Unpaid - A Quick Overview of FLSA
To prevent misuse of temporary labor, U.S Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) puts clear restrictions on anemployer’s ability to use unpaid interns and trainees. It does not limit an employer’s ability to hire paid interns (as long as those interns make the minimum wage of $9.65/hr. in Michigan).
Unpaid internship programs in a for-profit organization must meet all six criteria:
- The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to the training which 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 that 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 time spent in the internship.
For more information, please consult the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division website: http://www.dol.gov/whd/.
Criminal Background Checks
If your organization requires a criminal background check, NMU Public Safety Department has arranged with an external firm to provide that service for students at a reasonable cost through an online order system. The student can contact Public Safety for the website link, instructions, and NMU Package Code.
Equal Opportunity Compliance
Anti-discrimination and Harassment
Federal law, Michigan law and University policy prohibit discrimination in the conduct of educational programs, including off-site work experience programs. Northern Michigan University’s Non-Discrimination Policy can be found at http://www.nmu.edu/equalopportunity.
Please be sure to have widely disseminated anti-harassment policies, and effective complaint, investigation, and remedial procedures. All of these would apply to a student working in your organization. This information should be made available to a student during the orientation. Definitions of inclusion and policies are at http://www.nmu.edu/equalopportunity.
While NMU would not be liable for harassment during a work experience that is optional, the student may choose to report the harassment to the University following the Harassment Policy (see above), as well as Academic Affairs, which should then follow up by attempting to investigate the matter and removing the student from having contact with the offending individual.
Refusal or Removal of Students
Your organization may request the right to refuse to accept a student for legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons, such as former employees who have been terminated for cause, relieved of responsibility for cause or those who are otherwise not eligible to be employed by your organization.
You may request the right to remove a student from a placement by submitting a nondiscriminatory written request to the University. However, in return for agreeing to the prompt removal of a student, the University insists on the Agency taking responsibility for that removal, should the student sue for damages for loss of grade, loss of time, loss of tuition, damage to reputation, etc. While NMU would not be liable for harassment during a work experience that is optional, the student may choose to report the harassment to the University, which should then follow up by attempting to investigate the matter and removing the student from having contact with the offending individual.
Liability and Indemnification - Unpaid Experiences
Liability Insurance Coverage for the University and Agency
Your organization may ask if the University insures itself against certain risks and provide proof that it has done so. Most reasonable risks are already covered by existing policies. The NMU Agency Agreement templates in Appendix A and B address this. If you need an explicit promise of coverage from the University, we will work with the NMU Risk and Insurance Manager to develop language similar to:
The University and the Agency both agree to maintain comprehensive general liability insurance, which covers employees and students whenever liability might exist. Upon request, a certificate of insurance will be furnished to the other party indicating coverage effective dates and liability limits.
Liability Insurance Coverage for the Student
The University carries liability insurance to cover a student when performing services or engaged in activities on behalf of or under the University's direction. The primary control, which our insurance carrier has been informed is operating, is that NMU only sends out students who are responsible and capable of performing all that is agreed to either verbally or in writing. Often only you will be able to determine if job requirements are realistic. There is often a temptation to leave these requirements vague since both you and your contact are "people of good faith" who can "work out any problems as they arise." In the long run, the process of working through the programmatic requirements can only help the student, the Agency and you.
Liability for Injury to the Student
Conventional wisdom has been that once the student is beyond the direct control of the institution, there is no liability for any injury that may occur.
Any student to be placed in a high-risk work experience setting should be asked to show proof of hospital/medical insurance to the Director of the internship at NMU.
Liability for Injury or Property Damage Caused By the Student
In the event that a student causes an injury or property damage, the University's general position is that liability should flow to those who were supervising or were in charge of the student at the time the incident occurred.
- If the student is under the control of the University and following the instructions of a faculty supervisor, the University may be liable.
- If the student is under the supervision of your employee, your organization would be liable.
- If the student acts on his or her own and not under supervision, the student will probably be liable, as will the party, which failed to or should have provided supervision. This makes it vitally important to stress to the student the limits of his or her responsibility and authority.
Indemnification – Compensating For Loss
Each party agrees that statutory and common law theories and principles of indemnification, contribution, and equitable restitution shall govern and apply to claims, costs, actions, causes of action, losses or expenses (including attorney fees) resulting from or caused by its actions, the actions of its employees and of students pursuant to this agreement.
If the Agency is unwilling to agree to this language or if it insists on its own language, consult with the Risk and Insurance Manager who may be able to suggest alternative language.
Workers’ Compensation & Unemployment Compensation
Workers’ compensation boards have found that interns contribute enough to an organization to make them employees. It is wise to cover interns in your workers’ compensation policy, even though you are not required to do so. Interns are generally not eligible for unemployment compensation at the end of the internship.
Northern Michigan University is committed to providing a learning, living and working environment free from discrimination. NMU supports the Title IX* federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, including: gender based discrimination, pregnancy and parenting discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, dating violence, domestic violence, voyeurism, and any other conduct of a sexual nature that is nonconsensual.
Title IX covers any area where an NMU student is assigned for placement (e.g. student teaching) and/or participates in an internship arranged or initiated by the University, during their term at NMU.
The University cares about you. If you believe you are experiencing or experienced sex discrimination, in a university or non-university sponsored placement and/or internship, please report. The University has resources and support information available for you.
To report, please contact:
Complaints against employees, applicants, and third parties
Director of Equal Opportunity
Equal Opportunity Officer and Title IX Coordinator
105 Cohodas Building
Complaints against students
Associate Dean of Students
Deputy Title IX Coordinator
Public Safety and Police Services
158 Services Building
* Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is a federal law that states: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."
Click here for a PDF of the information listed above - Internship Toolkit (PDF).