two women writing on a white board

Career Services defines an internship as a hands-on, career-related experience that supplements classroom academic experience to enhance the student’s education. Internships can be paid or unpaid, and students may or may not receive credit for the experience.

Interns should participate in activities that mirror the professional activities of their supervisors rather than performing clerical tasks that would otherwise be performed by assistants. Internships must include orientation, training, ongoing supervision and evaluation. See sidebar for more information on posting your internship in Handshake.

Internship information

We do not recommend that you require credit for internships because many students are not able to receive credit through their department. It is the intern’s responsibility to consult their academic department for guidance on receiving credit. If credit is required by you and a student is unable to receive it through their department, an alternative course has been set up through Career Services called CSVC 1000.

Disadvantages of requiring credit for unpaid internships

  • Students feel that employers are forcing them to get a credit that does not count toward graduation (if they can’t get a department to sponsor them), in addition to paying the cost of tuition (for any course).
  • Recent court rulings have possibly changed the way courts assess unpaid internship legality. The following link is a news story about a case against Black Swan in which the judge sided with plaintiffs who had been unpaid interns. The judge went on to make this remark in talking about unpaid internships and credit:
    “Some employers have asserted that they have free rein not to pay interns as long as the interns are receiving college credit. But Judge Pauley said receiving academic credit was of little importance in determining whether interns should be paid.”

The PIIE program is designed to connect top students interested in civic engagement to internships with nonprofits and government agencies in the Denver/Boulder area. PIIE is the first of its kind among public universities in the nation and has become increasingly competitive every year.

Interested? Here are the requirements:

  • Must be a city, county, state, nonpartisan federal government or private nonprofit agency in Colorado.
  • Submit a job description prior to the student application process in the fall semester.
  • Agree to pay 50 percent of the stipend ($2,340).
  • Internships are suggested to be at least 360 hours (equal to 40 hours per week for nine weeks or 30 hours per week over 12 weeks).
  • Student intern must be supervised by a professional in the organization who agrees to the guidelines of the CU PIIE program and agrees to submit an evaluation to Career Services at the conclusion of the internship.
  • The internship must provide the opportunity for the student to enhance their skills developed through their CU education, develop knowledge specific to a career, provide an opportunity for career exploration, and acquire workplace skills such as communication, teamwork, time management, interpersonal skills and goal setting.

For more information on how to apply, please contact CU PIIE.

Donate to CU PIIE

The CU PIIE advisory board reserves the right to refuse any internship based on the consensus of the committee.

Internships should be posted in Handshake.

Descriptions should include:

  • Orientation
  • Training/instruction
  • Supervision
  • Evaluation
  • Day-to-day responsibilities
  • Special projects
  • Equipment/technology/materials
  • Types of clients
  • Majors, coursework, experience and/or skills necessary
  • Benefits (including non-monetary if applicable)