In order to make internships as advantageous as possible for both you and the new professionals you’re helping to develop, scheduling is key. Most internships are about three months in duration, but that has the potential to vary based on the school’s academic schedule or the employer’s needs. Although some schools work on a trimester or quarter schedule, the vast majority are in a standard split semester, with a winter and spring semester separated by winter and summer breaks. Typical options will be:
- Fall (September-December) which will terminate at the beginning of Winter break. This is a full semester internship.
- Winter (November-January), terminating at the start of the Spring Semester. The work schedule will typically start before Thanksgiving break and the intern will maintain a work schedule through both major breaks, making this an ideal option for students who take a course overload (over 15 hours) or work long hours at other jobs.
- Spring (January-May) terminates at the start of summer break and represents the other typical, full-semester internship option.
- Summer (May-August) is often the best opportunity for full-time students who can’t accommodate additional obligations during the school year. Considering that summer is likely business as usual for you, this could be the best option if you want to offer a once-annual internship available to the largest candidate pool or if you are interested in full-time interns only.
Although semester-long internships are a typical offering, there are no hard rules regarding the duration of your relationship!
If things are going well and everyone is benefiting from the experience, you can offer your intern an extension through the following semester (using the guidelines above) or even offering part or full-time work. You have, after all, been training this new professional on all of the job skills that you expect from an employee – why not continue to benefit?
Make sure to ask your internship candidates about academic and work obligations that could interfere with their schedule, and try your best to be flexible. Interns often have myriad obligations that can be tricky to balance. In the end, your work with your interns has great potential for both of you!
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