Information for Internship Hosts

All of the colleges participating in the Five College Risk Management Program (Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith) support their students in participating internships with a variety of non-profit organizations and for-profit companies.

Insurance for Students in Internships

Liability Insurance

The college will extend its liability insurance to its students at host institutions when students are in a college- sponsored internship (i.e., an internship that meets at least one of the three criteria listed below) and the host institution or company requires such coverage by contract with the college (sponsoring institution). The college may not agree to any contract that releases the host institution or company from its liability for its negligence or deliberate acts. The college is required to submit all such requests to Risk Management for approval; please allow sufficient time to process your request.

Health Insurance

All college students are required to carry health insurance when enrolled in an institution in the state of Massachusetts, therefore, we expect that all our students will have health insurance. Students who have graduated and who have insurance under the college’s health insurance plan will be covered only until August 15th of the year in which they graduated; they are responsible for making other arrangements for coverage after that date.

Travel Accident, Medical Evacuation

All students who are traveling on a college sponsored program and are more than 100 miles from their legal residence (usually their home address) are covered by the college’s Travel Accident and Medical Evacuation Insurance. Sponsored internships are considered to be a college sponsored program. Students who have purchased the college’s health insurance are also covered for medical evacuation by that policy.

Workers Compensation

Unless the student is receiving wages through the college’s payroll system or work-study program, the college does not cover the student under its workers’ compensation insurance policy. Gifts, grants and stipends for internships at other institutions or companies are not considered to be wages.

Sponsored Internships

The colleges consider an Internship at a third party organization or company (Host) to be “College Sponsored” when they meet one of following criteria:

1)  Academic Credit is Given for the Internship

It is very unusual for an undergraduate to receive academic credit for an internship unless the internship is directly connected to a course, e.g., a teaching practicum. Any student receiving direct academic credit for an internship is automatically covered under the college’s liability insurance policies.

In some cases, students may arrange in advance with a professor to obtain academic credit in connection with an internship by completing papers or other research or academic work upon return to campus from the internship or to complete such academic work during the internship if the internship is during the school term. If the college agrees in writing to an advance arrangement for credit for an internship we consider the internship to be sponsored by the college and will cover the student under the college’s liability insurance policies if required by the Host.

2)  The College Pays the Student a Stipend or Wages

A student may be given a stipend for the internship if the internship is unpaid by the host institution. Stipend amounts will vary and are dependent upon many factors. Students who are given a stipend are NOT considered to be employees of the college unless they are working at the college. If the college pays the student a stipend for an internship we consider the internship to be sponsored by the college and will cover the student under the college’s liability insurance policies if required by the Host.

In limited circumstances, with only local community service organizations or community based learning programs, the student may be paid for services at the host organization through the college’s work-study program. In such instances, the student is insured by the college as any other employee except for employee benefits.

3)  The College Arranges the Internship

The college may arrange an internship by “matching” students to employers; or it may advise a student to participate in a specific internship and take active steps to place the student in the internship. Arrangement of an internship is defined by the following characteristics: there must be (1) identification of the internship possibility by the College; (2) advice to the student regarding the internship opportunity; and (3) the college must take active steps to enroll or place the student in the internship.

All students who participate in a sponsored internship are required to sign a waiver and release [link] in favor of the sponsoring institution.

Sponsorship guidelines do not apply to the Smith School for Social Work which is a graduate program. All SSW internships are for academic credit and other coverages may be provided.

Internships at the College

All internships offered by our participating colleges are paid internships. Students participating in a college internship are insured under the college’s policies as any other non-benefited employee (i.e., the student is not eligible for the college’s employee health insurance but must rely on their own health insurance).

Non-Sponsored Internships

Many, if not most, student internships are not college sponsored. The host intuition is responsible to pay the student for his or her wages (if it is a paid internship), supervise the student’s work and activities and assume responsibility for the student while he or she is on the premises as for any other employee.

Most internships are posted on electronic bulletin boards which the college does not directly control – such postings are not considered to be “arranging” an internship for the student. Students who arrange their internships without any direct support from the college (as defined above), who receive no financial support and/or who do not receive or reasonably anticipate academic credit are not “sponsored” by the institution. Students participating in non-sponsored internships are not eligible to be covered by college insurance, and should reasonably expect to be included under the employer’s policies.

Internship Guidelines (For Reference Purposes Only)

The colleges subscribe to the following guidelines of The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), and expect that all employers will abide by these guidelines to the best of their ability.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) defines an internship as 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 pathsand give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent.   

Criteria for an Experience to Be Defined as an Internship 

To ensure that an experience—whether it is a traditional internship or one conducted remotely or virtually—is educational, and thus eligible to be considered a legitimate internship by the NACE definition, ALL the following criteria must be met: 

  1. 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.
  2. The skills or knowledge learned must be transferable to other employment settings.
  3. The experience has a defined beginning and end, and a job description with desired qualifications.
  4. There are clearly defined learning objectives/goals related to the professional goals of the student’s academic coursework. 
  5. There is supervision by a professional with expertise and educational and/or professional background in the field of the experience.
  6. There is routine feedback by the experienced supervisor.  
  7. There are resources, equipment, and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning objectives/goals. 

Legal Considerations for Unpaid Internships with For-Profit Employers

If you are a for-profit employer, and wish to offer an unpaid or “credit only” internship, the internship must meet the following Department of Labor (DOL) criteria:

  • The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the employer’s facilities, is similar to training that would be given in a vocational school.
  • The internship experience is for the benefit of the student.
  • The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under the close observation of a regular employee.
  • The employer provides the training and derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern.  *Occasionally, the operations may actually be impeded.
  • The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship.
  • The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time in the internship.

The colleges cannot be liable for any claims made against employers for failure to pay wages or any violations of FLSA or similar state regulations. See Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures for related information.

This page was last revised March 2013.

*In the 2010 NACE survey, both career services and employers disagreed with the criterion that the employer derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the student.  NACE has recommended to the DOL that it reconsider and revise that aspect of the FLSA criteria.