Internships vs. Volunteer Positions

As a matter of best practices, the University of Virginia’s College at Wise (UVa-Wise) uses criteria set forth by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) to define a legitimate internship.

 

An internship, as defined by NACE, “is a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Internships give students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths; and give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent.”

 

To ensure that an experience—whether it is a traditional internship or one conducted remotely or virtually—is educational, and thus eligible to be considered a legitimate internship by the NACE definition, all the following criteria must be met:

  • The experience must be an extension of the classroom: a learning experience that provides for applying the knowledge gained in the classroom.  It must not be simply to advance the operations of the employer or be the work that a regular employee would routinely perform.
  • The skills or knowledge learned must be transferable to other employment settings.
  • The experience has a defined beginning and end, and a job description with desired qualifications.
  • There are clearly defined learning objectives/goals related to the professional goals of the student’s academic coursework.
  • There is supervision by a professional with expertise and educational and/or professional background in the field of the experience.
  • There is routine feedback by the experienced supervisor. 
  • There are resources, equipment, and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning objectives/goals. 

 

For detailed guidelines or to set up an internship through Career Services, please contact Neva Bryan at 276-328-0126.