EMPLOYERS Internships at The University of Iowa

Internship Overview

Internships are a great way for employers to build relationships with students at the University of Iowa and recruit great talent into their organizations. What is an internship, how can I benefit from having one at my organization, and where do I go from here? The Experiential Education Team at the Pomerantz Career Center is here to help with any of your internship questions.

What is an Internship?

An internship is a hands-on work experience in which students apply the principles they’ve learned in the classroom to a real-world setting. An internship should be designed to meet the needs of the organization and learning goals of the student. It should have pre-set goals outlined by the employer and agreed upon between the employer and student to ensure all expectations are met.

Internship Basics:

  • Internships should balance the work needs of the organization and the learning goals of the intern
  • Internships promote academic, career, and/or personal development
  • Internships may be paid or unpaid and can be full-time or part-time
  • Internships are distinguished from a short-term job or volunteer experience in that there is an intentional “learning agenda” structured into the experience
  • The duration may be anywhere from eight weeks to two years, but typically last the course of a semester

In summary, an internship program should provide the student with meaningful work experience, and the employer with a qualified employee to carry out the work. An internship should not be created solely to carry-out clerical and/or less desirable tasks; interns should be challenged by and learn from their internship in ways that contribute to their educational and career goals.

University of Iowa Internship Requirements

Note: these are minimum requirements for an employer to post an internship with the University of Iowa. Certain academic programs and internships might have different requirements if the student is seeking academic credit.
  • Professional experience which relates to student's major field or area of career interest
  • At least 80% professional work
  • Occupies at least one academic term (fall, spring or summer)
  • At least 10 weeks during spring or fall term, or 8 weeks in summer
  • Full or part-time intern must work a minimum of 10 hours per week
  • Requires continuous supervision by a professional in the field (not a student)
  • Students must be at least a sophomore or above (must have completed at least 12 semester hours of UI coursework)

Benefits of an Internship


  • Recruitment and Training Cost Savings:
    • Flexible, cost-effective workforce not requiring a long-term employer commitment
    • Proven, cost-effective way to recruit and evaluate potential employees
    • Have the opportunity to assess students’ work and “fit” with the company before making a long-term hiring commitment
    • Enhanced recruitment and retention outcomes, hence, improving your “bottom line”
    • Reduce turnover and training time for entry-level employees
  • Added Staff Capacity During Peak Periods:
    • Quality candidates for temporary or seasonal positions and projects
    • Year-round source of highly motivated pre-professionals
    • Allows professional staff to pursue more creative projects
    • Developmental experience for staff on supervising and managing talent
  • Fresh Perspectives:
    • Students bring new perspectives, concepts, ideas, and the latest technologies to your organization
    • Provide new and innovative solutions by applying the knowledge they received from their academic coursework
  • Expanded Pool of Qualified Potential Hires:
    • Greater chance of hiring the top students in your field through showcasing your business to potential employees
    • Increased visibility of your organization on campus and as a potential employer
    • Enhanced community image by contributing your expertise to the educational enterprise


  • Career Exploration:
    • Learn about a career field from the inside and decide if this is the right career field for them
    • Work alongside a professional in chosen career area
    • Observe the work place and see if it matches expectations
  • Leadership and Skill Development:
    • Learn new skills and add to knowledge base while gaining confidence in their abilities
    • Opportunity to practice communication and teamwork skills
    • Gain industry knowledge first hand from an organization and professionals
    • Provide evidence that they have initiative, are reliable, and have a sense of responsibility
    • Apply some of the ideas learned in school and provide a bridge between school and the professional world
    • Sense of accomplishment by contributing to an organization
  • Networking and Establishing Mentors and References:
    • Meet new people and practice networking skills while establishing a network of professional contacts, mentors, and references
    • Open the door to a recommendation for steps to take next on their career path
  • Resume Enhancements:
    • Gain valuable experiences and accomplishments to add to their resume and/or enhance their application to Graduate school
    • Create an advantage over other job or graduate school applicants
    • Potential for a full time job offer at the end of the internship based on their performance

NACE’s 2011 Internship & Co-op Survey indicates that internships are an integral and ever-important part of the college recruiting scene. The survey finds that employers will draw approximately 40 percent of their new college hires for 2011 from their internship and co-op programs. These figures demonstrate the central role that experiential education plays in the overall college recruiting process.

Based on the MWACE 2010 Internship Survey over 77% of employers cited recruiting and evaluating candidates as the most important goal of their internship program. Close to 75% of employers use their internship program to increase visibility and market their companies to students. 60% of employers identified their commitment to student development as a goal of the internship program.

Developing an Internship Program

Creating a quality internship position requires some planning and research. Successful internships are characterized by the following components:

  • Support of the top administration
  • Clearly defined objectives and goals for the internship program that are communicated to all staff
  • Designated supervisors who understand and are committed to mentoring and internships
  • Projects and responsibilities that are meaningful, clearly defined and not centered around clerical work
  • A system for regular feedback on student performance and the intern program itself

These brief guidelines provide a step-by-step approach to creating an internship:

  1. Organizational Support

    Successful internships begin with the support of top administration. Not only do funding decisions start here, the overall attitude towards the value of interns can be made or broken by the culture of the leadership team. To make a case for the value of interns, focus on overall organizational reasons for hosting interns. Point to the bottom line. An effective, well managed program is the single best college recruiting tool, not to mention effectively reduces turnover by providing the opportunity to make more educated hiring decisions.

  2. Define the Objective

    Set an overall goal or objective for the student's work. This objective should be detailed and measureable and will help give the student direction during the internship. The objective needs to be known and accepted by staff in order to send a clear and consistent message of support.

  3. Select an Appropriate Internship Supervisor

    Assign a supervisor who is responsible for training and mentoring the intern. Designating a supervisor who is a proven and clear communicator and is committed to providing day-to-day guidance and counsel will result in a more productive and satisfying experience for the intern and your business. In order for an intern to register their internship for transcript notation, they must be supervised by a full-time professional staff person. Around mid-term, this staff person will receive an email from the Pomerantz Career Center asking them to fill out an evaluation of the student's performance.

  4. Compensation and Legal Requirements

    The exact salary and benefits you pay student interns are determined by you and the student. Usually you should expect to pay between 60%-80% of a full-time entry-level salary. We will be happy to advise you on appropriate salaries based on the major of the student.

  5. Paid or Unpaid? If you do select to host unpaid interns, it is important to be providing a substantial educational experience and be aware of legal standards. Under the Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act, six criteria have been instituted to define an unpaid intern. For more information please review U.S. Department of Labor. Additionally if you have questions please contact the Experiential Education Team at 319-335-1023.

  6. Creating the Job Description
  7. Write a job description including the duties and responsibilities, qualifications, hours worked, etc. Have a clear idea of the exact job duties required. Interns must work a minimum of 10 hours per week for 8 weeks during the summer and 10 weeks during the fall. The job must be at least 80% professional work. The student's main duties should not be filing, answering the phone, or photocopying. Once you have created a solid description, you can post it on HireaHawk.com for students to view (see Publicizing Your Internship).

    Sample Job Descriptions: Example #1 Example #2

UI Internship Programs

Publicizing an Internship

For no cost, you can post your internship opportunity on HireaHawk.com, our online recruiting site.

You may also want to attend a Career Fair to recruit interns.

Once you have hired an intern, the student should be directed to the Pomerantz Career Center to register their internship for zero credit hours and request transcript notation. For credit hours, the student should contact their respective "major" department.

Registration and Recognition of Internship Experience

The University of Iowa provides official recognition for successful student internships through the Pomerantz Career Center, in the form of a special notation on the intern's permanent transcript. While not providing academic credit (except in the Washington Center Program), this transcript notation provides a permanent documentation that the University recognized the internship as professional work experience in the student's field of study. Students can also choose to receive credit for an internship. The student would need to work with their "major" department to receive the credit hours.

To receive official transcript recognition, the prospective intern must meet specific requirements for eligibility, as must the work itself. If the requirements are met, students who have an upcoming internship (or job that qualifies as an internship) should submit a personal profile and a placement record in HireaHawk.com, the Pomerantz Career Center's online system for jobs, internships, and placements. They will then receive permission to register for a special non-credit (zero hours) internship course for the semester/term to be worked. For internships to be recognized in this way, they must be reported to the Pomerantz Career Center early enough to meet registration deadlines for the semester(s) worked. Internships cannot be registered retroactively for work done in previous semesters.