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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.