best practices


Have you considered starting an internship at your company but don’t know where to begin? Or have you hired interns for years but know your program could benefit from increased structure and planning? This guide provides you with the necessary tools to confidently hire, onboard and manage a DePaul student intern.

ta b l e o f co n t e n ts Internship Basics
Why Hire an Intern Internship Defined DePaul Fast Facts Create a Blueprint Compensation Academic Credit Craft an Internship Description Posting an Internship Interview Process 1 2 3 4 6 7 8 10 12

Onboarding Managing Your Intern Internship Wrap-Up 16 18 19

Analyze Results
Manager Reflection Resources 21 back cover


Why Hire an Intern?

Internship Basics

Develop a pipeline to a diverse, full-time hiring pool post-graduation. Create positive press for your organization via student testimonials, brand recognition, and peer to peer messaging. Gain valuable insights from a fresh perspective by establishing creative projects for your intern. Provide leadership opportunities for your employees through supervision and mentorship of an intern.


An internship is a carefully monitored work experience in which students have intentional personal and careerrelated learning goals. The student reflects on learning throughout the internship experience.
C harac t e ri st ic s i n c lud e :

fast facts


A defined duration ranging from several weeks to 3 years or more, during which the intern is closely mentored and supervised. It is recommended that the student and supervisor set new goals quarterly or on another regular schedule.


DePaul University, with more than 25,000 students, is one of the nation’s ten largest private, not-for-profit academic institutions.
The university’s nearly 300 undergraduate and graduate programs of study, many nationally acclaimed, and its focus on hands-on learning produce a high caliber of graduates with exceptional technical and communication skills and a dedicated work ethic.

University Internship Program

May be part-time, full-time, paid or unpaid. It is recommended that unpaid interns do not work more than 10-15 hours per week. Unpaid internships must also meet the Department of Labor criteria (see page 7).

DePaul consistently ranks among the top 20 in the “Diverse Student Population” category of “The Best 361 Colleges,” published by The Princeton Review.

Over 90% of employers reported high satisfaction with DePaul University Internship Program students.

90% 75%

3 5

The internship should have 3-4 learning objectives.

Internships may be part of an educational program, during which the work is carefully monitored and evaluated for academic credit awarded by DePaul University. Academic internships must be approved in advance.

Our nationally ranked service-learning program integrates the service concept into our curriculum and inspires many students to make a lifelong commitment to service and social justice.

Nearly 3/4 of interns work at “small” (1-300 employee) companies.

Our faculty, active in research and consulting, bring real-world experience into the classroom every day. Our students benefit from the networks of their professors, as well as over 150,000 alumni, including 97,000 in the Chicago metropolitan area.

The employer provides resources to support the intern’s learning objectives.


It is free to post an internship or job on DePaul’s job board:



c r eat e a b lu e p r i n t

Internship Program Basics
What are our overall goals for creating an internship?

Student Profile
What student profile are we seeking? Majors/Minors to target:

List a few of the day to day tasks or projects to which an intern could contribute.

Skills needed (hard and soft skills, etc.):

What are the potential learning objectives for the intern?
(See page 8 to learn more about creating objectives.)

Internship tip: Internal Leadership & Time Management
Which departments could utilize and manage an intern? Keep in mind the following student populations may be interested in your internship opportunity.
Adult students

How long will the internship last? How many hours per week will the intern work?

Adult students (ages 24+) value internships as a way to advance their career or transition into a new industry. These students can bring a wealth of past professional experiences to an advanced internship.
International students

Who would manage, supervise and provide ongoing support to the intern?

International students bring a unique global perspective to an organization. Visa sponsorship is not required to hire an international student as an intern.



Com p e n sat i o n a n d Aca d e m i c C r e d i t

Paid vs. Unpaid? The DePaul University Career Center strongly recommends compensating interns for their work. Compensation most commonly comes in the form of an hourly wage ($12/hour on average); however, other compensation options include a stipend upon satisfactory completion of the internship, or a structured, commission-based compensation model.
Providing compensation for an internship will:

If you decide your internship must be unpaid, it is important that the position meets all of the following Department of Labor standards under the Fair Labor Standards Act. These standards were created to help determine whether workers are to be considered “trainees” or “employees.”
Department of Labor Standards:
1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment. 2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern.


Employ interns who are more focused: Paying your interns enables them to more fully focus on the job at hand without the worry of meeting financial obligations like bills.

At U.S. Cellular, we believe ‘‘that paying our interns is one

3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff. 4. 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. 5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship. 6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship. In addition to meeting the Department of Labor requirements for an unpaid internship, the DePaul University Internship Program recommends that unpaid interns work no more than 10-15 hours per week.

Attract more competitive and diverse candidates: Our experience shows that paid internships result in a larger, more diverse applicant pool.


Receive a measurable return on investment: By estimating and sharing the dollar value an intern contributes to your organization, you can make a case for support with departmental managers.

Sharon Garcia Manager, EVP and Recruitment Communications, U.S. Cellular




element that makes their experience more realistic to building a career after college. This is why we also require our interns to work on real business impacting projects, and to actively contribute to helping our organization meet our goals. The more real we can make it for them, the more it brings the best of who they are to their work and to the business. Not only do these program elements keep us competitive in attracting high caliber college talent, but we get the most value out of them which gives us a greater return on our investment.

Earning Academic Credit for an Internship
DePaul students have the option to earn credit for a paid or unpaid internship by combining a work experience with an academic course related to professional development. Standard tuition rates apply to these courses and students are required to pay for course credit. As an employer, it is a best practice to not offer academic credit as a form of compensation as academic credit can only be awarded by the university. Credit will be awarded by DePaul contingent upon the student’s program requirements.


Crafting an Internship Description: The Basics


Students are excited to work hard and create results, but also want an internship that will aid their long-term professional development. Describe your organization and internship position with as much detail as possible. It will help a student decide if he or she can picture themselves within your organization, industry and internship position. Don’t forget to include interesting facts on company culture; these are often the most attractive to students. Concise, detailed postings will lead to interested, qualified applicants.

Ma r k et i ng Communi c at i ons I nt er ns h i p
Company X is currently seeking enthusiastic and resourceful interns to work in their Marketing Communications Department. (Provide brief description here of your organization)
Working as an intern in the Marketing Communications Department, you will be exposed to a variety of fields including advertising, copywriting, graphic design, direct marketing, print production and public relations. In addition to gaining valuable, hands-on experience in a fast-paced, exciting environment, you will also have the opportunity to request working on projects in your particular area of interest.

Responsibilities & Position Description
- Describe day-to-day duties and tasks. - List specific responsibilities, keep in mind that internships should entail no more than 25% clerical work.

-D  egree or field of study - If you are open to receiving applications from all majors, mention this in the job description. -Y  ears of experience - Some students shy away from applying to internships that require experience because they aren’t sure if their experience applies. Many internships do not require previous experience; if this is true for your organization, state it. - Skills and abilities necessary for the role. - Level of technical knowledge needed.

Learning Objectives
Well-developed learning objectives are an integral part of providing a positive internship experience and demonstrate a well-organized and robust program. Consider addressing the following questions in your internship position description. -W  hat are 2-3 projects in which the student will participate? -W  hat are 3-4 (hard and/or soft) skills the student will learn through this experience? -H  ow will the intern be supervised and mentored during the experience? -W  ill the intern participate in company meetings, networking events or professional conferences?

Responsibilities include:
-A  ssist account executives with project management including copywriting and editing of direct mail pieces. - Assist with publicizing and advertising conferences. - Traffic projects throughout various departments for approval. - Coordinate the routing and distribution of direct mail pieces. - Attend and participate in industry creative development meetings. - Assist in arranging distribution, reproduction and archiving of photographic materials for various industries.

Sophomore or Junior student status. Experience with Microsoft Excel is preferred.

Timeframe for internship position:
Minimum 6 months commitment

Internship posting tip:
Many students are intimidated by postings that list multiple software programs with no indication of the level of knowledge needed for the job. If you are seeking a specific technical proficiency consider distinguishing between required knowledge versus what skills would be a “bonus”. Best Practice Example: Indicate Specific Technical Qualifications for Internship: - Proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. - Functional knowledge of Adobe Photoshop (familiar with utilizing filters and creating graphics for websites). - While it is not required, if you have any experience with Javascript or web development, we see this as a bonus!

Compensation: $12 hourly wage Learning Objectives:

You will have learned the following upon completion of internship
-H  ow to create marketing materials with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. - Best practices for event planning and the opportunity to lead promotions for an event. - Learn about career options in both the Public Relations Dept. and Interactive Design Dept.

Timeframe and Compensation
Specific internship timeline information, such as total length of the internship and desired hours, should be stated here. If the position is unpaid, it is important to list a specific date at the end of the 10 week internship experience in which the manager can evaluate the intern’s performance.


P ost i n g a n I n t e r n s h i p at D e Pau l

Internship & Job Board: DePaul.Experience
For most employers, the first step to successfully recruiting interns is to post the internship description on DePaul’s campus-wide internship and job board It is free to post internships and jobs on DePaul.Experience, which is open to all DePaul students and alumni. If you choose to post internships or jobs to the nationwide Experience network (outside of DePaul) there may be a cost associated with the posting.

To get started, request an employer account via the DePaul.Experience website here:

t h e i n t e rv i e w i n g p r o c es s

During the Interview Tip:
Interviewing allows students the opportunity to share their accomplishments and ask questions about projects and training they will receive during their internship. Consider asking any of the questions below to ensure a candidate is the right fit for the internship.

The interviewing process gives employers the chance to set expectations and goals for the intern’s role within the organization. Be honest with the student about your expectations, company culture and the internship responsibilities.

Interviewing a student is much different than interviewing a seasoned professional. For many students, an internship interview is their first formal interviewing experience. To identify the student’s strengths, consider asking about coursework and on-campus organization membership in addition to their employment history.

INTRODUCTORY QUESTIONS: - Tell me about yourself. - Why did you choose to attend DePaul University? - Why did you decide to major in ___________ …?

Pre-Interview: Reflection
Before you start interviewing, reflect upon the culture of your organization and the expectations of the student. Ask yourself the following questions:

EMPLOYER/JOB RELATED QUESTIONS: - What do you know about this company and what interests you the most? - What would you like to know about our company? - Why are you interested in this particular job? - In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our company? - What skills have you learned in your studies that may help you in this role? - What do you think you can do for us that someone else can’t do just as well?

? ? ?

What are the daily duties you expect the intern to accomplish?

How many hours per week would you like the student to work?

How will you measure your intern’s success?

EXPLORATORY QUESTIONS - Tell me about three accomplishments of which you’re most proud. - Give an example of a group project you completed at DePaul. - How did you contribute to the project’s success? - What are your greatest strengths/skills? - What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort? - What have you learned from your mistakes? - How would a friend describe you? - What else do you think I should know about you? - What qualities should a successful manager possess?

How can you enrich the student’s networking and professional development within the role?

Are you able to set a regular meeting with the student to give and receive feedback?

Post Interview:
Once you finish interviewing your candidate pool, reach out to the student to extend an offer. Set a timeframe for training and how long the internship will last. As a next step, set a date for an official start day or due date for submitting hiring paperwork. Be sure to follow-up with other students who did not receive an offer to let them know the position has closed and thank them for their interest in the position.

Internship Tip:

It is recommended that you do not extend the internship offer at the end of the interview as a student may feel obligated to accept the internship without reflecting on the expectations of the role. Wait until the next day to allow the student time to process your conversation.



mentoring the intern

So, you’ve hired a promising student intern. Now what?!


In order to achieve a high-quality internship experience for the student and your organization, it is important to spend time preparing for the intern’s arrival. Successfully onboarding your new intern will help maximize the internship experience for the student, as well as your organization.

Provide an Orientation
During the intern’s first week, provide a thorough introduction to the organization, employees, quirks of the culture, unwritten rules (dress code, when to check-in with manager, break policy, etc.), and important people or resources. It may be helpful to create a presentation used to onboard all new interns. This presentation could include the history of the organization, mission, vision and goals, key employees with pictures, title and tenure, company policies, etc. Remember to make the presentation interactive and engaging!

Outline Responsibilities

Onboarding: Be Prepared
Send company email announcing the start of your new intern(s) Organize welcome lunch with manager or team/senior leaders Block off 30 minutes to 1 hour to spend with intern at beginning and end of day Set standards for intern lunch hours and breaks before your intern begins work Prepare the intern’s work space (notepad, pen, highlighter, etc.) Set up computer login and email account Create a first day schedule broken down by the hour; print and place on desk Create and print an overall company calendar of events

Provide a clear outline of the intern’s daily/weekly/overall roles and responsibilities; this should be a reiteration of what was discussed in the interview process. Include deadlines and how much time should ideally be delegated to each task.

Internship Tip:
When delegating projects to your intern, consider mixing short and long-term projects. If the intern finishes a task early, they will have a long-term project on which they can take the initiative to continue.



Managing Your Intern

The intern’s supervisor should provide regular feedback on the intern’s work and ongoing support. We recommend the following best practice guidelines to provide a quality learning experience for your student intern.
Communicate with your intern often, whether it is to provide or receive feedback, offer training, or check in on the intern’s progress. By keeping the lines of communication open you will not only build trust, respect and a positive relationship, but you will learn how quickly projects are being completed.

Schedule a weekly review meeting with your intern. For many interns, the most important and beneficial element of an internship is the mentoring they receive from their direct supervisor and colleagues. Mentoring is a critical and essential part of any internship experience, and an attribute that differentiates internships from part-time employment. Internships are an opportunity for students to learn professional behavior in the workplace. As a mentor, it is important to give your intern honest feedback on their professionalism and career preparedness.

Internship Wrap-up

Successful internship managers not only train interns; they learn from them. Consider giving your interns a chance to provide feedback on their experience.
Exit Interviews
Give interns a chance to meet with you one-on-one to describe their favorite aspect of the internship and the biggest challenge on the job. The interns may be able to provide suggestions on an opportunity for growth within the internship.

To foster learning outside of your intern’s job duties, bring him or her to meetings, conferences and networking events. Allowing your intern to gain a broader understanding of your organization can help generate new ideas, and create a more meaningful experience.

Wrap-Up Presentation & Celebration
As a final project, ask your interns to summarize what they learned. Inviting interns from different departments to present together gives interns a chance to see what other students did on the job. It’s also a great way for the entire team to understand how interns support the organization and allows the team to get together for a final celebration.

Encourage your intern to develop relationships with employees outside of his or her immediate team or department. Suggest several people with whom the intern should initiate informational interviews. Helping your intern learn more about your organization, industry and potential career paths through informational interviews will not only aid in their long-term professional development, it will make them a more effective and contributing member of your organization.

Revisit Learning Objectives
Periodically revisit the learning objectives established at the beginning of the internship. Discuss what the student has learned and how it can be applied in the future. Be sure to also provide timely feedback on performance and congratulate your intern on a job welldone, as well as address areas for improvement and growth.

Internship Testimonials
Peer messaging is a great way to promote your internship program to future interns. Ask outgoing interns if they would feel comfortable providing a brief testimonial explaining what they learned from their internship experience. You may consider asking the intern if they would mind writing a blog post or newsletter article from their own perspective. A “The Day in the Life of an Intern” can be very insightful for other students.

Quarterly Review
If the internship lasts beyond a 10-week quarter, we recommend a quarterly review. New learning goals and higher level responsibilities should be developed each quarter. The intern should aspire to produce work projects and samples to show future prospective employers.




P ost- I n t e r n s h i p : Ma n ag e r R e f l ect i o n

analyzing the results

Reflecting on the internship experience by revisiting your organizational goals can be helpful in strengthening your intern position(s). Evaluate the internship experience to determine if the intern met the goals and expectations of the role. If the intern did not meet expectations, consider adapting the structure of the internship, training materials or supervisory support. Seek feedback from fellow employees and document projects that illustrate your intern’s contributions. Creating a record of success can help gain organizational support for internship positions and solidifies the importance and benefit of hiring student interns.


In addition to posting on, consider the following methods of active recruiting and promoting on campus:

How can my organization be active on campus?
On-Campus Interviewing (OCI) If you are looking to fill a high volume of positions, OCI provides interviewing suites so you can interview candidates right on campus.

What is involved?
Students view your current postings and apply for positions on DePaul. Experience. You electronically review resumes and select those who possess the skills you need and schedule interviews at the Loop or Lincoln Park Campus.

When can I start?
You can interview students anytime throughout the academic year.

How do I get started?
Create an employer account on and contact the Employer Relations office to schedule an OCI date by calling (312) 362-5201 or emailing

Job & Internship Fairs DePaul’s job fairs are a great way to promote your brand on campus while recruiting from a large student population.

Have an enthusiastic team member staff your job fair table during the fair. Consider using the “resume book” function on DePaul Experience to browse student resumes in advance and invite them to visit your table on the fair day. Students attend an information session hosted by your organization. At the end of the presentation you can host a Q&A session.

DePaul’s largest job fairs are the Fall and Winter Job & Internship fairs. DePaul also has job & internship fairs which are tailored towards certain industries or student majors.

To find out more information about upcoming fair dates and themes visit: Interested in participating? Call the Employer Relations office at (312) 362-5201. Contact the Employer Relations office to schedule a presentation date by calling (312) 362-5201 or requesting via web at forms/presentationregistration.aspx

Company Presentation Consider hosting a presentation on campus to promote interest in your company and reach potential hires.

You can schedule a presentation anytime throughout the year. Let the Career Center know if you would like to promote a presentation to a specific set of students and we can help you make connections with faculty and student organizations.

Host a Company Visit Hosting a company visit can give your organization a chance to show students what a typical day in your office would be like.

Set a date and the DePaul Career Center can help you recruit students for a site visit. Consider having a Q&A session at the end of the tour or ask coworkers to explain their role in relation to the company’s mission.

You can host a tour at any time throughout the year. Consider hosting a tour before your recruiting timeline so you can invite tour attendees to apply for a position in the future.

Contact the Employer Relations office to schedule a tour date by calling (312) 362-5201.



Need extra help? For any questions about starting or strengthening an internship at your organization please contact University Internship Program staff at one of the locations below:
Loop Office DePaul Center • East Jackson Blvd • Suite 9500 • Chicago, IL 60604 Phone: (312) 362-8437 • Fax: (312) 362-8565 • Lincoln Park Office Schmitt Academic Center • Room 192 • 2320 N. Kenmore Avenue • Chicago, IL 60614 Phone: (773) 325-7431 • Fax: (773) 325-7432 • Employer Website

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