The following policies and guidelines ensure that CU Denver students have access to high quality learning experiences that integrate academic knowledge and work experience in professional environments.
Criteria for Approving Internships
All positions must meet the following criteria to be approved by the Experiential Learning Center (ELC):
- The position must be a learning experience directly related to an academic field of study available at CU Denver
- At least 80% of the position must consist of professional or pre-professional work assignments related to students' majors and/or career goals
- The company/organization must be a legitimate established business located in commercial space*
- An experienced professional with expertise in the content area of the internship (i.e. the “Site Supervisor”) must be assigned to supervise/mentor the intern. This person trains the student as needed, monitors and evaluates student’s work performance
- Interns must be given an orientation to the organization, safety procedures, training, ongoing supervision, and evaluation
- It is the responsibility of the employer to cover costs for all training, certificates, background checks, etc.
- There are no requirements for the student to pay the employer in any form for any part of the experience. The employer expects no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern
- Interns should not be considered “consultants” or be expected to provide a function that your professional staff does not have the skills to perform (e.g. create a company website, write a grant, develop a marketing campaign)
- Interns must have an appropriate workspace and tools with which to perform their duties (e.g. access to a computer, software, etc.).
- If a confidentiality agreement or other specific forms are required, it must be stated in the job description upon posting
- Learning objectives are documented in an internship learning agreement and agreed upon by the employer. Students should be given opportunities to work toward attaining these objectives
- All internships require a performance evaluation at the end of the internship
Experiences that DO NOT qualify as Internships:
- Commission-based positions
- Internships located in home-based businesses*
- Situations where 100% of the work is done remotely or virtually
- Positions that require more than 20% clerical duties
- Positions in which the intern displaces a regular employee
- Positions that require door-to-door canvassing, cold-calling, or petition gathering
- “Independent contractor” relationships that require the intern to set up his/her own business for the purpose of selling products, services and/or recruiting other individuals to set up their own business
- Family-owned businesses or positions supervised by a family member.
- Telemarketing positions
- Positions in which the student is required to pay the employer for any part of the experience (fees for training, etc.)
Note: Exceptions must have approval by the ELC director. Final approval of internships is at the discretion of the supervising faculty sponsor.
Terms and Agreements: The Responsibilities of All Parties
- Verify the position and duties meet the University criteria and accurately represent positions offered
- Provide an orientation, any precautionary safety instructions, training, and ongoing supervision for assigned duties
- Provide a safe working environment
- If the student is paid, understand the responsibility for providing Workers Compensation and liability insurance in accordance with Colorado State Law, and agree to provide said coverage
- Comply with Federal Laws prohibiting discrimination and afford all applicants equal consideration regardless of race, color, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion or veteran status
- Assign an experienced professional who has expertise in the content area of the internship/co-op to supervise the student throughout the internship
- Ensure that a Learning Agreement signed by the student, the site supervisor, and the University and will be on file at the Experiential Learning Center prior to the intern’s first day on the job. This agreement outlines expectations and responsibilities of all parties, and ensures that the student is 'sponsored' by the University
Site Supervisor Responsibilities
- Provide the student with an orientation to organizational policies, procedures, and utilization of resources, and position-specific training
- Provide a positive supervisory experience that encourages the professional, academic, and personal growth of the student
- Assist the student in developing/achieving personal learning objectives
- Provide consistent and appropriate feedback through informal and formal evaluations
- Notify the Experiential Learning Center of any changes in the intern’s status, or any performance issues that may arise during the course of the internship
- Complete a final written evaluation of the student’s performance (online evaluation form will be provided by the ELC) at end of work assignment
- Register his/her internship with the Experiential Learning Center by submitting a Learning Agreement prior to the first day on the job
- Serve as a representative of the University of Colorado Denver, and as such, will have influence regarding the employer’s decision to host students from CU Denver in the future
- Approach internships in a professional manner that is guided by courtesy, a desire to learn, and a willingness to receive feedback for improvement
- Act in a responsible and appropriate manner in accordance with the rules and regulations of the organization
CU Denver Experiential Learning Center Responsibilities
- Designate an Internship Advisor to work with the Site Supervisor
- Inform eligible students of internship opportunities
- Assist in the establishment and maintenance and credit-worthy internship experiences
- Conduct site visits with employers and interns
- Maintain communication and act as liaison between the student, the employing organization, and the faculty sponsor
- Review the Learning Agreement for completeness and accuracy of information
- Administer internship evaluation process for all parties
- Assist the student, the site supervisor, and the faculty sponsor in resolving any problems that arise
Faculty Sponsor Responsibilities (Academic Internships Only)
- Verify the student meets departmental requirements for an internship
- Determine and discuss how the proposed internship is relevant to the student’s educational objectives and merits academic credit
- Assist students in creating appropriate learning objectives that must be met during the internship
- Address all academic issues related to the internship
- Provide students with appropriate academic assignments related to the internship placement
- Be available to the student throughout the internship in order to appraise progress and address concerns and questions
- Upon request, meet with site supervisors to discuss internship placement
- Review the site supervisor’s evaluation and use as part of student’s final grade
- Award credit and a final grade based on interns’ completion of assignments
Any re-disclosure of internship candidate/intern information is prohibited without the intern’s express written consent
All University of Colorado Denver interns must be covered by Worker’s Compensation insurance. For paid experiences, the employer’s workers compensation is responsible for providing coverage for the student. The University will cover worker’s compensation for interns earning only academic credit with no pay or for approved Not-for-Credit Internship experiences with a completed learning agreeement on file with the ELC. For additional information, please go to the website of the Office of University Risk Management at CU Denver.
Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination
Internship employers must subscribe to EEOC guidelines established by Federal and Colorado state law. Employers cannot unlawfully discriminate in the selection of individuals on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion or veteran status.
The University will not tolerate acts of sexual harassment.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
Employers must be aware of and ensure compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), before classifying an intern as an unpaid "trainee." If an intern is considered an "employee" for purposes of the FLSA, then the employer must pay its interns at least the minimum wage. The Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division developed a six-factor test for determining whether workers are considered "trainees" under the FLSA:
- The training is similar to that which would be given in a vocation school
- The training is for the benefit of the trainee
- The trainees do not displace regular employees, but work under close observation/supervision
- The employer derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainee
- The trainees are not necessarily entitled to a job at the completion of the training period
- The employer and the trainee understand that the trainees are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training
For more information, please go to the Department of Labor website.
Hold Harmless Agreements
Because of the concern over liability during internships, some employers may ask UC Denver and/or the student intern to sign a hold-harmless or indemnity agreement. In some cases, employers have asked students to sign a release of liability as a condition to accepting the internship. It is the policy of UC Denver that we will NOT sign these types of agreements.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers addresses the ethical issues regarding hold harmless agreements as they relate to internships.
Principles for Professional Conduct – Hold Harmless Agreements
Marijuana Related Organization Policy
The University of Colorado Denver Experiential Learning Center will not accept positions related to the use or distribution of recreational or medical marijuana. As the use of marijuana is illegal at the federal level and CU Denver receives federal funds. We must comply with federal law. In addition, the use of marijuana violates the Drug-Free Schools and Campuses Act and continues to be banned on campus.