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Designing a well-structured internship program requires the right knowledge and resources.

Starting and Internship Program

Internship programs deliver enormous value to employers and students. When designing an internship program, there are many factors to consider. A thoughtful, equitable, and inclusive approach will enhance the experience and impact for your interns. It will also make it easier to recruit for, and sustain, your program over time.

To support employers in designing, or improving, an internship program, we offer our Internship Development Toolkit. For basic guidance, we suggest taking these simple steps:

  1. Create a job description. Students should be assigned pre-professional level work in which they are actively involved rather than merely observing. The nature of the position should be clearly described, including specific responsibilities and the department or division to which the student will be assigned. Examples of special projects should also be included when applicable.
  2. Identify the qualifications the students must possess. Some employers request that a student have a strong interest in the field, while others require specific coursework or evidence of certain skills or qualities. Related experience is generally not expected, since the objective of an internship is to provide such experience.
  3. Develop a training plan. While students bring academic preparation to their employers, they will need orientation and training in their specific responsibilities. A good training plan includes a progression of assignments reflecting students’ developing competencies. Employers who formulate well-designed training plans can count on an excellent return for these efforts.
  4. Decide who will supervise, who will mentor. A supervisor should have direct responsibility for training and evaluating the student on the job. A mentor, who may or may not be the student’s supervisor, can provide guidance to the “apprentice” in other ways, such as assisting with the student’s professional development needs.
  5. Determine the time commitment. Students are available on either a full-time or part-time basis. Full-time positions during the fall or spring should ideally be timed to begin in late August or early September, or January as it will most likely require the student to withdraw from classes that semester. Part-time or summer full-time positions may start at any time. You may want to refer to UC Berkeley’s academic calendar.
  6. Establish the salary. Salaries should reflect the nature of the work performed and vary from one field to another. Some organizations also provide health benefits such as vacation leave or group health insurance. Employers located outside the Bay Area often provide transportation and relocation assistance.
  7. Consider compensation. As with full-time salaries, intern wages vary based upon things such as experience, academic major, position, and geographical location. We recommend for intern salaries that you pay 75% of the full-time rate for business and 75-100% of the full-time rate for technical positions. Students working on campus typically earn $16.99+/hr, depending on the position. According to results of NACE’s 2020-21 Internship & Co-op Survey, the average hourly wage rate for interns at the bachelor’s degree level begins at $20.82. Note that California intern wages may be slightly higher than national averages. You should also be aware of minimum wage laws at the state and city levels.

Additional Resources

While our Internship Development Toolkit provides helpful guidance, there is a lot of other important information that employers should review before launching their internship. For your convenience, we provide a few recommended resources here:

  1. What Is An Internship?
  2. SHRM: Should You Create An Internship Program?
  3. SHRM Guide To Organizing An Internship Program
  4. Creating an Internship Program: A Guide
  5. U.S. Chamber of Commerce: 7 Steps to Creating an Internship Program
  6. FORBES: How To Build A Summer Internship Program That Attracts Full-Time Talent
  7. Unpaid internships: An ‘equity issue’
  8. NACE: Paid Internships: Moving Toward Greater Equity, Setting Pay
  9. FORBES: It’s Time To Ban Unpaid Internships

If you have additional questions, please contact Employer Relations at (510) 642-0464 orby email.