Work Experience students performing different jobs

Establishing an Internship

Internships are a valuable bridge from college to career. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has provided research data that demonstrates how internships are avenues to increased skills, expanded networks, and enhanced social capital, and offer direct pathways to job offers with livable and thriving wages. 

What is an Internship?

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 workplace setting (across in-person, remote, or hybrid modalities). Internships provide students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience, develop social capital, explore career fields, and make connections in professional fields. In addition, internships serve as a significant recruiting mechanism for employers, providing them with the opportunity to guide and evaluate potential candidates.

Internship Benefits to Employers 

Interns provide an array of benefits to employers, including:

  • Allows test-drive new talent that may turn into your future employees
  • Reduces recruitment cost
  • Increases your company's visibility on campus
  • Assists with closing the skills gap
  • Fosters leadership skills in your current employees
  • Give back to the community and enhance economic mobility
  • Gain insight into new and emerging trends from younger generation

NACE believes that an internship should include:

  • A learning experience with a real-world opportunity to apply the knowledge gained in the classroom. It must not be simply to advance the operations of the employer or replace the work that a regular employee would routinely perform.
    Learned skills and knowledge that are transferable to other employment settings.
  • A defined beginning and end that is mutually agreed upon and consistent with institutional sponsor guidelines and schedules.
  • A position description with clear responsibilities and required/desired qualifications.
  • Clearly defined learning objectives/goals supportive of the student’s academic program goals and institutional requirements.
  • Direct supervision by a professional(s) with relevant expertise and educational and/or professional experience who provides productive feedback, guidance, and the resources and equipment necessary to successfully complete the assignment.

Aspects to Consider Before Establishing an Internship

  • Current agency staffing - do you have current staff to supervise the intern(s)?
  • Identify agency needs in various departments.
  • Compensation - what is a paid vs. unpaid internship?
  • Provide meaningful hands-on work-based learning.
  • Promote the importance of the intern enrolling in a Work Experience course to earn college credit during the internship interning.
  • Designated a dedicated staff member who will post the internship on our job board on a rolling semester basis.
  • Plan ahead! Here are our upcoming internship dates (same as our semester sessions)
Session Fall 2024 Spring 2025 Summer 2025

16 week

8/26/24 - 12/16/24

1/27/25 - 5/23/25


12 week

9/23/24 - 12/16/24

2/24/25 - 5/23/25


8 week

10/21/24 - 12/13/24

3/24/25 - 5/23/25

Dates TBD


Establishing an Internship

Submit the required Employer Intern Request Form. A staff member from the Work Experience Education Office will contact you once the internship details are approved, then you can post on Handshake. 

We may also request a weekly outline of tasks the intern will be participating in. 

Register as an employer via our free job board platform Handshake. Be sure to add College of the Desert as one of your school partners. 

In selecting an intern, we expect employers to adhere to federal guidelines on non-discrimination practices. Once you select an intern, change the applicants status to Hired in Handshake. Please notify all student candidates you interviewed whether they were selected for the internship or not. 

Be sure to utilize the Applicant Status Messaging Preferences in Handshake to assist you in communicating with applicants about the status of their application. 

Direct your new intern to the Work Experience Guide for Students for steps on how he/she can register in a Work Experience course. 

You may also contact us to inform us of your selection. 

Learn about your role as the employer, including information on hours the intern will need to complete based on the units he/she is enrolled, establishing SMART student learning objectives, and student expectations when enrolled in a Work Experience Education course.

Keep our semester dates above in mind when planning for your next cohort. Planning at least a semester ahead will provide you enough time to recruit for the next semester. 

Make sure to update the internship posting in Handshake to reflect the new semester period, so you can receive rolling applications for the following term. 


Handshake Resources for Employers

The Handshake support webpage provides your helpful articles and resources, including:


Best Practices for Employers

  • Review all the Employer Resources tabs on the left menu
  • Build a complete Handshake profile with interesting facts that make your workplace stand out to attract candidates
  • Create dynamic job/internship postings on Handshake:
    • The job description is the main catch for students.
    • Include if the position allows for flexible scheduling, opportunities for growth, minimum preferred qualifications, etc. 
  • Review the job posting applicants section in Handshake and make updates to notify applicants of their status. 
  • Should you have any students with resumes not up to par, please connect us to them so we can provide them resources to improve their chances at becoming hired.