Work-Based Learning - Internship Activity Guide

  • Internship Fact Sheet
  • Coordinator Checklist
  • Virtual Options
  • More Tools
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Internship Fact Sheet

What is an Internship?

An Internship is a highly structured, time-limited, Career Preparation activity in which students are placed at a worksite to participate in and observe work first hand.

Internships provide students the opportunity to learn by doing real work and being productively engaged in the workplace. They may provide the opportunity to work in teams, work on a project, or rotate through a number of departments and job functions.

Sustaining and growing Internships and all other work-based learning activities depend on maintaining positive relationships with the employers who are providing opportunities. These employers should be treated as valued customers and partners with frequent check-ins to address participation needs as they arise.

Internships are designed to:

  • Promote hands-on experience in a field of interest.
  • Provide productive value for the employer.
  • Provide exposure to a wide range of careers and jobs within the industry.
  • Offer opportunities to develop, practice and demonstrate employability skills.
  • Build occupational knowledge.
  • Create awareness of the education needed to be successful in the industry.

Internships are structured to:

  • Enhance workplace knowledge and career awareness.
  • Help build the skills required for specific occupations.
  • Expose students to a wide spectrum of workplace activities.
  • Support key academic concepts, as well as technical and occupational skills development.

Internships are supported by:

  • Student preparation in the classroom.
  • Internship design with the employer partner.
  • Employer host orientation and ongoing troubleshooting.
  • Multiple opportunities for reflection on the experience, both verbally and in writing.
  • Employer assessment of skills acquisition.

Internships are connected to:

  • Classroom learning.
  • Individual career development/training plans.
  • A sequence of educational, training and workplace activities.
  • The student’s next steps.

Internships take place for a minimum of 80 hours with more hours being optimal. They may be paid or unpaid, depending on whether the student is performing productive work for the employer and other factors.

Internships are one activity in the continuum of authentic work-based experiences provided to all students engaged in career-related programs or course of study in New York City Schools.

Internships are recognized as an “accepted and valid WBL activity” by NYSED and the New York City Public Schools for specific credit purposes.

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Quick tips for Work-Based Learning Coordinators* to ensure a successful Internship

Before the Internship

  • Review the Fact Sheet and required documents/forms.
  • Meet with teachers and discuss how they can help with student selection, internship design, reflection activities and support the classroom connection. Share the Teacher Tip Sheet.
  • Maintain regular communications with teachers.
  • Design and develop the internship with the employer.
  • Establish a schedule for student interviews with the employer.
  • Debrief following the interviews.
  • Have the employer sign the worksite agreement.
  • Identify interested students and review resumes.
  • Select and refer qualified students matched to employer specifications.
  • Schedule student interviews with employer, and confirm placement details by providing employer and student with offer letter.
  • Conduct a mandatory site visit to address key legal or safety issues.
  • Prepare internship hosts by providing an orientation and determining the preferred frequency and method of contact.
  • Prepare students by sharing the student tip sheet and developing specific learning objectives for their work-based learning plan.

During the Internship

  • If possible, meet with the student and worksite supervisor at the workplace and observe workplace activities. Finalize training plan and make appointments for any future visits.
  • Assist the worksite supervisor in completing the Employer Evaluation of student performance at the mid-point and completion of the internship.
  • Facilitate learning by coordinating opportunities for students to reflect on their internships in the classroom and regularly assess progress using evaluations.
  • Monitor student timesheets and payroll processes and resolve any issues that may arise.

After the Internship

  • Conduct follow-up activities by reviewing the completed evaluations with the student.
  • Help students update their Employability Skills Profile and think about any next steps they would like to take to further their career goals.
  • Provide avenues for feedback on the effectiveness of the internship and make recommendations for adjustments in the future.
  • Coordinate opportunities for student reflection with teachers.
  • Document the experience and provide reports to school leadership and employer partners.

*In New York State, this includes certified work-based learning coordinators and others who facilitate, arrange and support work-based learning activities for students.

Sample Internship Timeline

  • Three months in advance:
    • Develop and design the internship.
    • Confirm student availability and schedule with appropriate stakeholders.
    • Get signed worksite agreement.
  • Two months in advance:
    • Review resumes.
    • Schedule student interviews.
    • Process results.
    • Confirm placement details.
    • Conduct a site visit.
  • One month in advance:
    • Prepare internship hosts.
    • Prepare students.
    • Prepare teachers.
  • One week in advance:
    • Confirm details with all parties.
  • On the start date:
    • Check in with student and employer.

Tips for Success

  • Engage in proper planning and preparation.
  • Address safety, legal and logistical details.
  • Communicate with all parties.
  • Maximize learning potential.
  • Focus on skills acquisition.
  • Connect to the classroom.
  • Provide support for students and supervisors.
  • Promote student reflection.
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Internship Virtual Options


Translating an internship to virtual settings is perhaps one of the more straightforward of all the Work-Based Learning activities, as long as the activity and tasks of the internship can be completed virtually. While internships are generally conducted in the workplace or with a partner organization, in some cases interns may engage in an internship virtually and connect to their internship host and team members electronically via telephone, Skype, Zoom, WebEx, Microsoft Teams or some other technology. There are also virtual simulations available where a learner can select a particular career or occupation, conduct online research and then address and complete one or more mock work assignments for review by a teacher or connector.

Virtual Activity Options

Remember, virtual activities either promote “live” student contact with adult professionals and front-line workers via the use of technology, or are simulations and provide students with employer exposures through recordings, on-line research and related classroom activities.

Virtual Internships

In a virtual internship, a student is engaged in his or her internship virtually. Many industries and employer partners have recently shifted to a model where their employees work from home-based settings. Most of these employers have established protocols, communications systems and supports to ensure that work is productive, employees are engaged and connected to each other. These same protocols apply to interns who are completing their internship from home.

Steps to Success

  • 1. Review the Internship Guide.
  • 2. Distribute and review checklists and tip sheets to all parties.
  • 3. Recruit Internship hosts or work with existing Internship sponsors to design and implement virtual internship experiences.
  • 4. Pair learners with appropriate internship opportunities. Facilitate learner choice and preference.
  • 5. Arrange interviews with Internship Host, who selects the intern via an online interview.
  • 6. Create an individualized WBL plan with the Internship host, WBL Connector and Intern.
  • 7. Teacher Supports the internship, the work-based learning plan, and checks in with the Intern and host regularly.

Creating A Virtual Internship

To design an effective and meaningful virtual internship, look to what has been successful for in-person internships with your industry partners or your organization. The first step is identifying projects that are appropriate for virtual interns, such as those appropriate for an entry-level worker, that require minimal oversight. Consider the age, academic status, and skill set of your interns. Projects assigned to the interns should have clear and attainable goals. Informing interns of the connections between their projects and how they contribute to the organization can provide students an invaluable perspective.

Related Virtual Activities

Related Virtual Internships are simulations where a learner or group of learners can select a particular career or occupation, conduct online research and then address and complete one or more mock assignments for review by a teacher or WBL connector.

Related Virtual Internship Resources

The activities on the Virtual Internships website can be used in several different formats. The educator may:

  • 1. Lead the class as a group exploring one of the internships.
  • 2. Assign the activities for out of class work.
  • 3. Have learners work in groups on chosen internships.
  • 4. Have learners work independently on a chosen internship.

Special Considerations

  • Ensure equity in learner access to technology to effectively participate in the internship.
  • Help learners think about time management and how to focus on tasks when participating in a virtual internship.
  • Consider school policy relayed to online interactions.

Resources & Links