Overview of Perspectives
Experiential learning is a crucial component of a college education. Experiential learning encompasses a wide variety of enriching opportunities for students, including service-learning, volunteering, student organization leadership and campus involvement, faculty-led research and projects, experiential study-abroad, student employment/work-study, cooperative education, and internships. This position paper concerns itself specifically with internships.
More students are pursuing experiential learning, particularly internships, more colleges and universities are promoting student engagement in experiential learning such as internships, and a greater number and variety of employers are offering these experiences in the form of internships. Significant discussion has developed, particularly around the concept, purpose, structure, and function of internships, and the conditions under which internships can be pursued on an unpaid basis.
In 2010, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) issued a position statement on unpaid internships that was developed after conducting a national survey of employer and college members and considering other related research. It is framed by principles, beliefs, assumptions, and information that took into consideration the numerous and varying current practices. NACE has developed a framework within which to define the internship experience and identify criteria for determining when internships can be offered ethically and legitimately without pay.