Internship Policies

Internships are a component of experiential learning that offers students the opportunity to explore career options and gain real world experience. The following information addresses common questions we receive regarding internships. If you are ready to post an internship, visit Handshake to create a free account or log in to your existing account.

Definition of an Internship

The National Association of Colleges and Employers internship definition:

An internship 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.

Criteria for an Internship (Paid and Unpaid)

  • 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.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act includes a six factor criteria list to evaluate whether or not an internship can be unpaid. The UCI Career Center uses the list as the basis for determining if we will accept an unpaid internship posted on our website, ZotLink.
  • Please note, requiring academic credit for an internship does not relieve the employer of the responsibility to abide by federal labor laws set forth by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Academic credit and compensation for work are not synonymous or interchangeable.

Posting on Handshake

Handshake is UCI’s online recruiting platform where you can post your internships. All internships are reviewed for compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (see Criteria for Unpaid Internships on this page). Therefore each internship must be posted individually. Also, the following fields must be completed:

  • The UCI Career Center does not accept unpaid internships in the following categories: sales, administrative support, reception, customer service, graphic design, and anything related to computer support or programming, or internships that are 100% virtual.
  • Position Type – the same position should not be listed as both paid or unpaid.
  • Duration – How long will the internship last. This can be a number of weeks, months, a season, or time frame. An acceptable answer may be 12 weeks, 3 months, Spring quarter, or April – June.
  • Qualifications – What skills and abilities should the candidate possess?
  • Description – Describe what the intern will learn (the objectives of the role) and the activities they will engage in to learn. You are also encouraged to add information about the company, the people they will be working with, or other information you would like students to know.
  • Approximate Hours Per Week – this must be a number or number range.

In addition to the Fair Labor Standards Act, you are encouraged to review the National Association of Colleges and Employers criteria for an internship which applies to both paid and unpaid positions (see Criteria for an Internship on this page).  

Click here to access Handshake!

Academic Credit Options

Academic credit may be an option for some students. It depends on their school affiliation and/or major. To get credit students must enroll in a class offered by their school or find a faculty member who will offer independent study. Either way the student must be able to accommodate the extra units in their academic plan and pay to receive credit. Requiring credit for your internship may be viewed as a hardship by many students. Also, requiring academic credit for an internship does not relieve the employer of the responsibility to abide by federal labor laws set forth by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Academic credit and compensation for work are not synonymous or interchangeable.

Preregistration to Offer Credit

Risk Management

The hiring party will assume liability for interns on their premises. This holds true for both paid and unpaid interns. The University does not accept responsibility for student liability during an internship. No employee or student of the University of California, Irvine is authorized to sign a "hold harmless and indemnification" agreement on behalf of the University or UC Regents. All agreements are between the student and hiring party. 

Equal Employment Opportunity

The UCI Career Center reserves the right to refuse service to those who unlawfully discriminate in the selection of employees on the basis of age, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or any other basis prohibited by applicable Federal and State laws.