Internship Guidelines, Best Practices, and Eligibility

Although Wellesley College students are not required to complete internship, volunteer, research, or other forms of experiential learning as part of their academic experience, Wellesley believes internships and other forms of experiential learning to be an integral component to complement to academics for students seeking exposure to and skill development in a range of professional cultures. We encourage students to explore their personal, professional, and academic interests in workplace settings.

Wellesley Career Education expects that all employers abide by the standards established by the Department of Labor and all applicable state and local regulations. This policy is consistent with those of our peer institutions nationally. We broadly define internships as consisting of three main components:

  • The practical: exploring a profession, building a network, learning about office culture.
  • The academic: translating academic theory into real world action, and vice versa.
  • The personal: developing self-inquiry, self-reflection, and self-awareness.


Wellesley Career Education adheres to a definition of “internship” set forth by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE):

An internship is 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 paths; and give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent.

To ensure that an experience is 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.


In an ongoing effort to ensure the quality of experiential learning opportunities for Wellesley College students, Wellesley Career Education has outlined several criteria that are used to determine whether sponsorship of the experience (i.e. via financial support or credit acknowledgement) within one of its existing programs is appropriate.

Downloadable Checklist for Internship Credit/Stipend Eligibility (pdf)

Please use these questions to determine whether an internship opportunity meets institutional standards for Wellesley College. All items must have a “Yes” answer to reliably be approved for a stipend or the summer internship credit.

Does the experience...

...have a defined beginning and end and meet our timing requirements?

  • For summers (May through August), will the experience offer full-time hours (35 hrs/wk) for a minimum total of 300 hours during the period?
  • For wintersession (January), will the experience occur outside of the fall and spring terms?

...provide direct professional supervision from someone appropriately qualified in the area of the work being performed? Does this person have prior supervisory experience, share a common spoken language with the student, and work on-site?

...have a clear job description and outline reasonable expectations? Does it include required areas of skill or knowledge, such as language proficiency and any technical skills needed to function on a daily basis (both inside and outside of the organization)? Does the organization restrict the scope of their work by the limitations of their own and the students’ expertise? the student’s career development and complement academic learning? Will the student be exposed to relevant cultural and current issues and events? Will the student gain skills and develop competencies transferable to other settings?

...allow for open communication between supervisors, Wellesley College staff, and the student? Can staff reliably contact the student and/or organization in the event of problems or emergencies?

...provide appropriate equipment, facilities, and resources (i.e. on-site physical space, access to appropriate technology, licensed staff) to complete their assigned duties and responsibilities? Does it provide an appropriate orientation and any other necessary training to perform any outlined duties and responsibilities?

...comply with international, employment, and government laws, including all applicable regulatory bodies? Are all necessary licensure, accreditation, and/or certification(s) valid and up-to-date?

For students requiring work authorization (i.e. international students with F-1 or J-1 visas seeking U.S. internships): Can I directly relate the internship or research to my intended or declared major (or field of study)?

For students seeking experiences outside of the United States: Does the experience take place in a country without restrictions on travel? Some locations may be prohibited or require institutional petition. Please refer to the Wellesley College Student/Alumnae International Travel Policy for more information.