Thank you for providing an internship opportunity for a SUNY Cobleskill student. SUNY Cobleskill believes a successful internship requires a team effort among the employer, the student, the faculty and the Internship Coordinator. Please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns that may arise.
Applied learning is an integral part of SUNY Cobleskill’s mission. Internships place students in a real-world environment where they must collaborate with others, developing their skills in critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and teamwork.
All student interns work with a faculty supervisor, who communicates regularly with the student during the internship and may visit your site. The faculty supervisor is also responsible for assigning a grade at the end of the internship.
Two critical components of the internship program are clearly defined student learning outcomes and assessment.
- Learning outcomes are mapped out in the Internship Learning Agreement (ILA).
- Assessment occurs twice during the internship, typically at the six-week mark and at the end. Site supervisors are emailed the evaluations and complete and submit them electronically.
Benefits to Employers
- Evaluate potential employees. The internship offers employers the opportunity to observe a student’s skills and abilities without a long-term commitment.
- Increased productivity. Interns can work on special projects or free up employees to work on more advanced projects.
- Increased visibility on campus. SUNY Cobleskill interns return to campus to give presentations on their internship experience. This provides an opportunity to promote your organization to other students and professors.
- Opportunity to shape future employees. Through the evaluation process, you can provide valuable feedback to the academic program on how well prepared students are for the workforce.
5 Easy Steps for Developing an Internship Program
- Write an internship job description that clearly spells out the responsibilities and expectations.
- What does your organization hope to achieve from this opportunity?
- What qualifications and skills will you be looking for in an intern?
- Ensure you have adequate resources. Consider the following questions:
- Where will you locate the student?
- What equipment will be needed (computer, desk, phone, etc.)
- Who will be responsible for logistics: parking, network access, etc?
- Will the student be driving a company vehicle?
- Will you be able to pay the intern?
- SUNY Cobleskill prefers that students are paid. They are paying tuition and often have additional expenses.
- Employers need to be aware of the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
- Assessment has proven that students who are paid work harder and are more likely to complete their obligations. In the long run it is a good investment.
- Assign a site supervisor.
- If the student will need specific clearances, certifications or licenses, be sure to communicate that information in advance.
- Establish how many hours the student will be working.
Roles and Responsibilities
The Internship Learning Agreement (ILA) provides a template for all parties to establish the objectives and activities for the student throughout the internship. Students are responsible for developing objectives for the ILA and seeking approval from their faculty supervisor for the internship. Faculty supervisors must approve the completed ILA prior to site supervisors signing the document.
Site Supervisor Responsibilities:
- Clearly discuss the requirements of the internship with the student intern
- Work with the student to complete on-site goals, duties and learning objectives
- Provide ongoing supervision and feedback to the student on his/her performance
- Respond to communication from the faculty supervisor
- Complete periodic and final evaluations
Faculty Supervisor Responsibilities:
- Keep in contact with the student (a minimum of 3 substantive contacts during the internship) to provide guidance, support and evaluation
- Visit the internship site (if possible) and contact the site supervisor at least four times during the semester to discuss the student’s performance
- Assess the student’s learning based upon internship duties, a daily journal or log, communication with the site supervisor, the site supervisor’s periodic and final evaluations, completed activities required by the department including specified hours at the site, and the final student reporting or other assignments
- Obtain approval from the faculty supervisor for the proposed internship and site
- Work with the faculty supervisor to complete the ILA, obtain appropriate signatures, and submit by the deadline
- Satisfy all financial obligations for the internship including tuition and fees
- Perform to the best of one’s ability those tasks assigned by the site supervisor which are related to the learning objectives and to the responsibilities of the internship position
- Abide by SUNY Cobleskill Student Conduct Code and academic policies, and follow all the rules, regulations and normal requirements of the internship site
- Complete the academic requirements outlined in the ILA under the guidance of the faculty supervisor; complete periodic and final evaluations
- Notify the faculty and site supervisors of any changes needed in the ILA or of any problems that may develop during the internship
- Return to campus for a final internship presentation and reporting, as required by the department
Internship Learning Agreement (ILA)
The Internship Learning Agreement (ILA) is an arrangement among the student intern, the faculty supervisor, and the site supervisor to identify the learning objectives and activities of the internship. It will include the established student learning outcomes (SLOs).
The ILA must be completed and signed prior to the start of the internship. The student is responsible for submitting the completed and signed ILA to the appropriate campus office. An affiliation agreement is required when a student is not being paid an hourly wage.
Internship objectives and activities should be specifically designed for individual internships to help accomplish stated learning outcomes. During the internship experience, both faculty and site supervisors will monitor the intern’s activities.
As with all credit-bearing courses, student learning outcomes (SLOs) have been predetermined for all internships by the faculty within each department. The SLOs are listed on both the ILA and the Site Supervisor Evaluation Forms.
The Internship Learning Agreement can be found at:
Internship supervision is provided by a faculty supervisor from the department that offers the internship. An appropriately qualified individual from the site, the site supervisor, will supervise the students at each site in consultation with the faculty supervisor. The site supervisor should provide training and mentoring that will benefit the student.
Site visits are strongly recommended. Even when the supervisor knows the site and client very well, on-site visits give the student the opportunity to speak with the faculty supervisor about issues that may not have been addressed in classroom settings or in email communications during the internship.
Visits can be conducted by other faculty, business professionals or alumni located near the internship site. When any person other than the assigned faculty supervisor makes visits, the faculty supervisor should select and provide guidance to that individual relating to the visit. The faculty supervisor should provide the ILA and also list the internship requirements and learning outcomes.
Reports from the Internship Site
Communication should include periodic evaluations from both site supervisors and interns. The Office of Provost and VPAA will initiate an email with an evaluation form in the first five to seven weeks to site supervisors and interns. Faculty should be able to determine that desired student learning outcomes can be or are being achieved in accordance with the original ILA and that academic standards are being maintained as the internship progresses. At the conclusion of the internship, the Office of Provost and VPAA will email information to site supervisors and student interns pertaining to the final evaluations.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
In general, companies that work with SUNY student interns want to be sure that the student cannot be classed as an “employee.” Where there is no employment relationship under the FLSA, the minimum wage and overtime pay provisions of the FLSA will not apply. (See 29
The Department of Labor, relying on U.S. Supreme Court decisions addressing the status of trainees under the FLSA (e.g., Walling v. Portland Terminal Co., 330 U.S. 148 (1947)), has developed a six-part test for assessing whether a trainee, intern, or student is covered as an employee under the FLSA.
In general, internships are subject to the FLSA, and academic credit is not an alternative to minimum-wage compensation. There is, however, a “trainee” exception. In an advisory, the U.S. Department of Labor states that if all of the following criteria apply, students are not employees within the meaning of the FLSA:
- The training, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to that which would be given in a vocational school;
- The training is for the benefit of the trainees or students;
- The trainees or students do not displace regular employees, but work under their close observation;
- The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees or students, and on occasion his operations may actually be impeded;
- The trainees or students are not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period; not entitled to wages for the time spent in the training.
Academic credit will generally satisfy criterion A. Criteria C, E and F are especially important as well. The trainee exception can still apply without the awarding of course credit, but the evidentiary burden for proving the exception is higher. The first two criteria would have to be shown more strongly than if credit were earned.
The law states that the FLSA applies to enterprises that engage in interstate commerce or handle goods moved or produced in interstate commerce, when the enterprise does more than $500,000 in annual dollar volume of business. However, some employers and employees are covered regardless of the value of business done. Also, some employees are exempt by virtue of their positions. Therefore, it is not possible to make general statements about what businesses or employees are or are not covered by the FLSA.
Unemployment Insurance and Student Interns
Companies and individuals working with student interns will generally be aware of state unemployment insurance regulations. §511(17) of NYS Labor Law, the section that includes a discussion of unemployment insurance, notes that for unemployment insurance issues, “employment” does not include service performed by an individual enrolled at a public educational institution as a student in a full-time program taken for credit which combines academic instruction with work experience that is an integral part of the program (<http://www.labor.state.ny.us/ui/dande/title2.shtm#511>).