Internships 101

Internships provide students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience, to explore career options, to develop confidence in work abilities, and to put into practice the theory and principles they are being taught in class.

TOCD requires all listed internships to conform to New York Department of Labor guidelines and the National Association for Colleges & Employer's definition of internships. This criteria includes:

  • An internship structure that is similar to training provided in an educational program. This includes working under close supervision of staff members who have first-hand expertise in the duties the intern is performing.
  • The intern should complement, rather than displace regular employees or paid temporary workers. The intern should also not provide services similar to positions that are traditionally paid within the industry.  
  • The internship experience should be for the benefit of the intern and their activities do not provide an immediate advantage to the employer. On occasion, the employer's operations may actually be impeded in service of the intern's learning.
  • The internship should have clearly defined learning objectives and routine feedback to help the intern achieve those objectives.
  • The employer should provide resources and equipment for the intern to execute their duties.

For more information, please see the DOL Fair Labor Standards Act Fact Sheet and the NACE Position Statement on US Internships.

While TOCD will permit postings for unpaid internships to current students eligible for college credit, we will not list unpaid opportunities to our alumni.

We also will not post unpaid internships that require the interns to provide their own equipment, such as laptops, videocameras, or editing software.

NOTE: TOCD does not administer internships for credit.  For information on becoming a credit-based internship sponsor, please contact a Departmental Internship Coordinator:

  • Drama - Jessica Genick, jessica.genick@nyu.edu
  • Dramatic Writing and Film/TV - Erin Doolin, erin.doolin@nyu.edu
  • Interactive Media Arts - Shawn Van Every, shawn.van.every@nyu.edu
  • Photography & Imaging - Mark Jenkinson, mark.jenkinson@nyu.edu  
  • Recorded Music - Brianne Hayes, brianne.hayes@nyu.edu

UNPAID INTERNSHIPS: ACADEMIC CREDIT & OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

If you are offering an unpaid internship for academic credit, please be aware of the following:

  • Please keep NYU's academic calendar in mind in regards to your hiring timeline. We do not offer retroactive credit; students adding internships after the drop/add period may be ineligible for academic credit. (This generally is within 3-4 weeks of the beginning of the semester. To view the NYU academic calendar, click here.)
  • Academic credit is not without cost to the student. At NYU, each academic credit costs $1,991. Students who do unpaid internships for academic credit are actually paying for the experience, especially during the summer when financial aid may not cover those credits. This restricts the participation of students with limited financial means, and therefore reduces applicant pools and conflicts with recruitment commitments to diversity and inclusion.
  • If you are unable to pay your intern, consider other ways you can compensate them including access to industry resources such as free rehearsal space, comp tickets to productions, passes to screenings, and other pro bono materials.

KEYS TO PROVIDING A SUCCESSFUL INTERNSHIP EXPERIENCE

DO:

  • Be prepared to spend time teaching and mentoring your intern.
    • Make sure they know you are open to questions, even fundamental ones.
  • Make sure your intern feels like part of your team.
    • Include your intern in meetings and make sure that they are aware of your company’s projects and operations.
    • Welcome your intern to make suggestions and acknowledge their contributions.
    • Make sure your intern has a desk, computer, and office supplies, which will not only increase the interns' feeling of self-worth but also increase productivity.
  • Let them do important, meaningful work.
    • Menial tasks may be unavoidable, but be sure to also include projects that have substance. Part of an internship is the opportunity to have “hands on” experience so let your intern take ownership of a project.
    • If you need to, consider creating a project that will allow the intern to learn industry-specific skills in a theoretical situation.
  • Be clear about all facets of the internship.
    • Establish office rules, working hours, and the internship’s start and end dates. Spend time to make sure your intern understands your organization's culture and methods of task completion.
    • Define goals and set expectations at the beginning of the internship so that both you and your intern are in agreement. There may be things that you take for granted that an inexperienced intern may not understand. Ensuring that you both start off on the same page will result in a more productive and beneficial relationship.
    • When your intern leaves, ask for ideas! Ask your intern for feedback on his/her position and for a description of their accomplishments and challenges. Also, ask the intern to revise his/her internship description.
  • Compensate your intern, even if it’s only a travel or lunch stipend.
    • Keep in mind that your intern is still a student so every little bit is appreciated!
    • Be aware that there is a monetary cost for a student to do an internship for credit. A student may be foregoing potential income from a paid part-time job in a non-related field to receive the educational benefits of an internship.

DON’T:

  • Assume it’s enough to have your intern learn by passive observation.
    • Even if your intern is a self-starter, don't forget that interns are there to learn. Be sure to set aside a specific time each week to discuss relevant issues in your workplace and make sure that the intern understands the concepts.
  • Think it’s a hassle to spend extra time explaining things to your intern.
    • In a busy office, you may feel like you don’t have time to teach and mentor an intern, but the investment in time will pay off for both of you.
  • Have an unpaid intern serve as a substitute for a paid employee.
    • An intern is not meant to provide free administrative assistance, especially in a commercial business. Yes, phones need to be answered and data entry needs to get done, but is your intern really learning anything substantial from those tasks? Your intern should be developing industry-specific skills and knowledge from this experience.
    • Be sure to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act and assist students in any formal paperwork to receive college credit if applicable.
  • Forget to give your intern a proper lunch break.
    • Interns are protected under Department of Labor rules and regulations. Most states, including New York and California, require a 30-minute break for every 5- 6 hours of work. Check your local government resources for more information.