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Center of Experiential Learning

You don't have to wait until you graduate to put your knowledge to work. Through experiential learning, you can collaborate with local high schools, conduct research with community partners and solve operations issues for organizations.

Contact Information

Emily Johnson
Center for Experiential Learning

Center for Experiential Learning
College Center, 2nd Floor

CEL Links



The Center for Experiential Learning helps you gain structured, off-campus, work based-experiences that integrate the theory and knowledge of classroom learning with real-world applications.

An internship is a great opportunity for your organization and our college to create experiences where our students can learn, bring fresh ideas and skills to your organization while contributing to your organization operations, projects and needs. The Center for Experiential Learning supports NACE criteria for defining an internship.

Starting an Internship

Below are 10 simple steps to assist you in creating a quality internship experience for your organization and our students:

  • Do you have seasonal work, projects, departmental support or new opportunities where a student would be able to learn while contributing to your organization?
  • Determine how much time will be needed weekly and if the opportunity can be completed in a 16 week semester.
  • A professional staff member should provide training and general orientation to the intern and their duties. The best candidates for a supervisor are someone who likes to teach or train others and has the resources to do it.
  • Identify a mentor, who may or may not be the supervisor, who can provide assistance with the intern's professional development.
  • Some internships are paid and others are unpaid. Paid intern's salaries are based on their work responsibilities and vary between industries. View the NACE Internship Salary page as a guide for setting your interns salary. To attract a wider pool of candidates, consider payment.
  • If pay is not possible, unpaid internships must comply with the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Please reference the Department of Labor Fair Labor Standards Guidelines.
  • Note: Academic credit is not a substitute for pay. Students have to pay for their courses.
  • Students are not covered by Inver Hills Community College Workers compensation while participating in for credit or not for credit internships at your organization. Some employers cover Worker’s compensation based on employer process.
  • Students should be involved in academic or career-related work with limited clerical duties.
  • In your position description, clearly define the role of the intern, specific job responsibilities, skills, experience, area(s) of study, coursework or what semester in college the student would need to meet the needs of your opportunity.
  • Once you have made an offer the internship registration process begins for the student and your organization.
  • Note: timelines for hiring an intern if the student is taking an internship for credit generally follow our semester begin and end dates:
    Fall semester - Third week in August - First week in December (post spring and summer semester)
    Spring semester - Second week in January - Second week in May (post fall semester)
    Summer session - First week in June - First week in August (post in spring semester)
  • The essential documents for a student to begin an internship are an internship agreement form and learning goals. The documents involve signoff from the student, the site supervisor and sponsoring faculty or internship program coordinator
  • The learning goals should be completed jointly between you and the intern. Learning goals and objectives create clarity and agreement on what the student will accomplish in the internship.
  • The sponsoring faculty or internship program coordinator will provide final review and signature of approval.
  • Provide students with an orientation to the organization, department, staff, company policies and job specific training. Plan professional development opportunities to provide further development.
  • Ensure your intern has the basic supplies to learn and perform their duties such as a computer, space to work, office supplies, and access to staff.
  • For credit based internships two additional documents needed from an internship site are a [mid-semester] and end of semester evaluation of the student’s development and progress toward their learning goals.
  • The evaluations should be conducted by the internship site supervisor and shared with the intern. Evaluations should be sent to the sponsoring faculty or internship site coordinator.
  • The student may also be required to complete a self-evaluation.
  • Set regularly schedule meetings to provide feedback on your interns’ development and progress toward their learning goals.
  • Note: Students taking an internship for credit may be evaluated on a Pass/Fail or A-F letter grade by their sponsoring faculty.
  • As a culmination to the experience provide an opportunity for the site supervisor and the intern to share with the organization, department or staff what they have accomplished.
  • Request feedback from your intern on what your organization can do to improve internships for future interns.
  • If your intern has performed satisfactorily provide a letter of recommendation or reference.

Internship concerns

If you should have any issues or concerns about your intern or organizations’ ability to fulfill the internship agreements made, contact the sponsoring faculty or internship site coordinator. You can also contact our department for additional assistance, or 651-450-3683. We are happy to help you resolve any concerns you may have.

What makes a good internship?

  • Activities that lead to learning outcomes that relate to your area of study and career goals
  • Onsite supervision that provides work direction and feedback on your performance
  • Opportunities to reflect on these experiences
  • Opportunities to build mentoring relationships with supervisors, faculty and peers
  • Experiences that will help you clarify your values, career interests and personal goals

Academic internship for credit

Many academic departments have a series of requirements that you must meet to obtain credit for an internship. If you are seeking academic credit, you should complete the following objectives:

  • Contact your academic department to determine if an internship course or curriculum is offered, if you must meet specific academic requirements or prerequisites to receive credit.
  • Get internship approval for academic credit before accepting an offer or beginning the internship; normally for-credit students must be registered for an internship course prior to starting the internship.
  • Know the deadline dates for applying for credit internships; check with your academic department before the start of the semester when the internship begins.

Non-academic/not-for-credit internship

  • Non-credit internships do not need the approval of an academic department; internship arrangement is between the student and an employer.
  • Non-credit internships are not recorded on your transcript.
  • Consult with the director for the center for experiential learning to discuss goals and objectives for your non-credit internship.
  • Complete the Non-Credit Internship Form to start your process.

If you select this option, the Center for Experiential Learning will help you plan your internship and formulate your learning objectives to make sure you articulate what you hope to gain from the internship.

Why do an internship?

  • Learn about a career field to decide if that field is right for you
  • Apply concepts you've learned in the classroom to real-world experiences
  • Develop new skills, knowledge and confidence in your own abilities
  • Learn about workplace expectations and establish professional work habits
  • Develop connections in your field of interest and start to build your network
  • Gain exposure to real-world problems and issues
  • Obtain valuable work-related references
  • Strengthen your resume and increase your chances of getting a job offer

When should I do an internship?

Students will often wish to complete an internship their first college semester to gain exposure to their chosen area of study or clarify their career goals. However, internships are typically done in the latter semesters of your program of study.

Explore your career and clarify your career goals

  • During your first semesters at Inver Hills: Seek out courses that offer community-based learning experiences and volunteer (HandsOn Twin Cities) in the area that interests you
  • Conduct job shadows and informational interviews (GPS LifePlan: Information Interviewing); attend industry panels or tours offered by your program of study
  • Get involved in a civic or social student club to obtain volunteer experience related to your area of study and career-goal exposure
  • Contact Counseling and Advising to register for a field exploration course
  • Visit What Can I Do with a Major in... to learn about career options related to your major.

Gain experience in your program of study in your latter semesters

Visit Programs of Study to see if your program offers an internship for credit

Visit College Central Network (CCN) Services to find internships in your area of study

Visit other internship sites:

Note: Plan to conduct your internship search and application one semester before you begin your internship experience.

Career Ready Internship Program

Through the support of the Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates, eligible students are able to participate in part-time, paid academic internships within their major.

Are you Career Ready? Learn More

Starting your internship

  1. Visit College Central Network (CCN) Services to research your internship options
  2. Make sure your internship description follows the guidelines for a good internship and meets your course learning outcomes
  3. Prepare a resume draft
  4. Upload your resume draft to College Central
  5. Apply for your internship
  6. Find out if your program of study offers an academic internship course
  7. Speak with your instructor or academic adviser about your internship eligibility
  8. Register for the course and work with your instructor to write a draft of your learning goals

Tips on writing your learning goals

Learning objectives

Develop three to five learning goals that describe what you intend to learn through your internship, addressing academic, personal and professional goals. Use the learning goals worksheet to develop them in partnership with your internship supervisor.


  • Enhance my awareness and knowledge in the field of ________.
  • Gain an understanding of how an organization works with ________.
  • Learn or improve specific skills, study a particular process, or apply a certain body of knowledge.
  • Explore college majors and/or career options to learn what I need to accomplish to be successful.
  • Learn about how a particular company, organization or industry operates.

Learning tasks and strategies

Describe actions that will help you achieve your objectives; you may use more than one strategy for each objective.


  • Receive focused training to develop skills to do the work.
  • Identify specific project(s) that will address the objectives.
  • Ask your faculty sponsor to recommend relevant resource materials.
  • Attend staff meetings, seminars, conferences or professional meetings.
  • Conduct informational interviews with professionals or experts about their careers.
  • Ask people to observe you at work and seek their feedback and suggestions.

Evaluation and learning outcomes

Describe how you will demonstrate to your faculty sponsor the progress you made toward each objective; make sure these activities are appropriate, realistic, and measurable.


Maintain regular contact with faculty sponsor throughout the internship.

Keep an ongoing journal pertaining to your internship experience.

Create a final summary reflection project on what you learned from academic, professional, and personal perspectives. The summary should be submitted to your instructor and can involve the following:

  • Paper summarizing your journal entries
  • Portfolio of work accomplished
  • Formal class or group discussion session or presentation

Completing your internship

Once hired, complete your internship agreement provided by your instructor or the Center for Experiential Learning as well as your learning goals form with your internship site supervisor(s)

Ask your internship site supervisor to complete mid-semester and end-of-semester internship evaluation forms

Complete academic assignments on your internship course syllabus or in your weekly journal to illustrate what you are learning while recording your experiences and development.

Update your resume and portfolio to record your experiences for future internship and job applications; visit College Central Network (CCN) Services.

To learn more, contact your academic advisor or faculty sponsor.

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