5 components of an internship learning contract

Students and adults in Rhode Island – who want to step up their experience, expand their resume, and make a difference – will pursue a learning internship. Employer-sponsored internships help them cross the bridge between learning and doing. 

Internships in Rhode Island secure learning experiences, references, and networking opportunities. With many unemployed applicants and many with little experience, employers look to interns to qualify good hires who will:

  • Bring talent to the table.
  • Increase productivity.
  • Increase employee retention potential.

There is a certain simplicity to internships in Rhode Island. If well structured, they set clear expectations and time-frames. Employers benefit from low-paid or un-compensated labor (although you must meet certain standards if you don’t pay your interns and we always recommend paying your interns if you can!); students and unemployed adults benefit from control of their futures. 

Five components of learning contracts for internships in Rhode Island

  1. Basic Information: All contracts begin with name, contact information, dates, and other info. Internships will emphasize what the compensation is (pay, academic credit or both). 
  2. Objectives: Contracts qualify potential new hires and their academic goals. It is not a labor contract or independent contractor agreement. 
  3. Location: Agreement identifies location, supervisor, and contact information.
  4. Approval: Employer and student must agree on objectives. Schools, internship coordinator, and the company or organization have obligations to the intern – in principle and law.
  5. Recourse: Companies, schools, and students or unemployed adults need to have some understanding of options if objectives fail. 

Why offer internships?

Internships supply the employer with a set of ambitious and passionate hands. Interns bring energy and talents that employers value – even while they help the intern develop skills, competencies, and workplace values.

Identify objectives

Planning puts a calendar on hopes and dreams. The most ambitious interns seed their futures with triggers, moments that will move them forward. Contracts should address the intern’s questions:

  • How will this internship help me in 5(10) years?
  • What do I bring to the employer and whom do I want to impress?
  • What specifically will make me marketable?
  • Am I ready for hard work and sacrifice?

The intern’s place in the business

The contract needs to identify the intern’s place – in more ways than one.

  • The intern role assigned may be a lesser role than the student expects, or it may be over his/her head. How interns handle that is important to them and to the employer. 
  • The employer’s goals and expectations are just as important as the intern’s are. If there is a conflict, it makes sense to get it right from the beginning. 
  • Internship coordinators can help match interns with the right opportunity and employer. The coordinators understand that most of the supervisors willing to mentor interns are vested in their professions and consider it part of their profession to do their best.

Agreement approval

It is easier for the intern to work when there is common ground on everyone’s expectations.  

  • The work duties and tasks should be clear. This should include learning experiences and “busy” work – from running errands to photocopying, from answering phones to getting coffee, from sweeping floors to cooking on line. Just remember if you are not paying your intern, there are certain regulations you must follow for how much “busy” work the intern should be assigned. The internship provides apprenticeship in an environment where an intern can work under the mentorship of professionals.

Last recourse

  • Internship agreements often include hold harmless claims, restrictions on intern behavior, the protection of confidential business information, and rules on absenteeism and termination. 

Internships in Rhode Island are exceptional career opportunities for the interns – and the small to large business owners, the HR managers to the internship coordinators, and the willing supervisors and department heads. There are few arrangements that benefit student and employer so well. 

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About bridge.jobs

Bridge is a program that focuses on connecting employers and students in Rhode Island. The goal of Bridge is to match Rhode Island employers with talented students looking to gain valuable professional experience. Applying knowledge and skills acquired in college to a professional setting is a vital component of a student’s college education. Students who gain relevant internship experience are better prepared for full-time employment after graduation. By hiring interns, employers gain qualified, career-driven young professionals as employees. Student bring with them exposure to cutting edge practices and technology, new insights and philosophies, flexibility and a thirst for knowledge. bRIdge has a particular focus on connecting students and employers from specialized fields such as Business, Science, IT, Technology, Health, Design, Engineering and Manufacturing. The bRIdge website allows employers to post paid or unpaid internships online and directly reach out to a vast and talented pool of students. College students and recent graduates can sign up and start looking for an appropriate professional learning opportunity in minutes. bRIdge is a program of the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) and RISLA’s College Planning Center of Rhode Island. RISLA has joined up with Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Rhode Island (AICURI), the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education (RIBGHE) and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce to bring together academia, business and community. If you have any questions about this program or if you need any assistance, please feel free to contact us.

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