What Separates an Internship From a Paid Position or Volunteer Work?

An internship is designed to offer students the opportunity to gain work knowledge and possibly college credit for learning experiences identified in their job. An intern must be supervised by a mentor who actively participates in their workplace learning.

The goal of an internships is for a student to learn new skills and/or knowledge about his /her job and improve work performance.

Paid employees, and to a lesser extent volunteers, require much less teaching and oversight than an intern. The internship experience must be an extension of the classroom: A learning experience that provides for applying the knowledge gained in the classroom. Thus, interns are not intended to replace full time employees, part time employees, or volunteers.

Some core features of an Internship include:

  • Training in an educational environment
  • A structured, centralized process for mentorship
  • Intern is exposed to existing organizational practices and procedures
  • On-the-job training is transferable to other employment settings.
  • The internship experience has a defined beginning, end, and job description with desired qualifications.
  • The intern is supervised by a professional with expertise, educational ability, and/ or professional background in the field of experience.
  • The intern recieves routine feedback from the experienced supervisor.
  • Resources, equipment, and facilities are provided by the host employer that support learning objectives/ goals.

Benefits to host employer include:

  • Internships give employers a chance to test-drive talent before permanently hiring
  • Internships are an excellent recruitment tool for employers.
  • Internships offer employers a chance to train incoming employees for potential permanent positions.
  • Internships help employers connect with ambitious and dedicated students entering their field.

Work Experience Program for Internships and College Credit

For Cuesta College students and interested employers, the Cooperative Work Experience Program (WEXP) provides the opportunity for students to participate in paid and unpaid internships while earning college credit.

Employers taking part in our Internship/WEXP programs will be asked to complete and sign appropriate documentation. Our Dynamic Forms for Employers walkthrough will assist you if you are completing any contracts with us through our online signature platform.

Visit our Internship FAQs page to learn more about both our Internship/Work Experience Program as well as legal requirements for employing interns.

How Do I Learn More?

If you would like to talk to us about creating an internship position for students, you can contact us at careerconnections@cuesta.edu.