Criteria for Evaluating Internships and Internship Sites

This document provides an outline of criteria used to determine substantive, quality internship opportunities for Amherst College students. Understanding how your organization’s site and the proposed position align with the criteria below is a necessary first step as you develop your internship opportunity.


An internship is an ​experiential learning​ opportunity that:

  • Allows a student to apply classroom learning in a real-world, professional environment and complements the academic experience;
  • Promotes professional skill development that can be transferred to multiple industries and career fields;
  • Gives a student the chance to make connections in a professional field they are considering for a career path; and,
  • Encourages an environment for employers to guide, coach, and evaluate talent.


  • Must meet standards for workplace safety and have proper policies and procedures in place to protect a student against discrimination, harassment, and other inappropriate behaviors
  • Must be a formal organization, company, or agency
    • Formal is defined as:
      • Registered with the IRS or similar agency and can be searched by Employer ID number
      • Registered tax exempt organization
      • State or board licensed (i.e. medical private practices)
  • If the internship is to take place in-person, there must be a physical office location where the student has a dedicated workstation they can use during work hours
    • Companies operating out of a private home may be acceptable if the office/working space is separate from the living space
  • Must have the ability to sustain operations throughout the duration of the internship.
  • Must have no known labor violations related to internship programs


  • STUDENT-CENTRIC:​ Is there a proper balance between providing learning opportunities for students and achieving the mission and goals of the employer? Is this not simply a replacement for a full-time employee?
  • DUTIES:​ Are the duties outlined challenging enough for a college student? Do the basic requirements of the internship fit within the boundaries of the Amherst curriculum (i.e. no special training or skills outside what Amherst can provide students)? Is the percentage of rote, clerical tasks less than the percentage of substantive, meaningful projects and assignments?
  • COMPENSATION:​ Does the stipend or hourly pay provided at least meet local minimum wage requirements?
  • CAREER PATH FOUNDATION:​ Will this internship give a student a proper introduction and overview of their career field of interest? Is this an entry level position for a certain professional path? Can a student continue to build off this internship to secure a job after graduation appropriate for someone with a four-year bachelor’s degree from a liberal arts institution?
  • LEARNING GOALS:​ Does this internship description identify learning objectives or a description of what can be gained upon completion? Can the objectives be easily articulated?
  • TRAINING:​ Is there an orientation or training for the student at the beginning of the internship?
  • COACHING: Are there opportunities for professional development (i.e. lunch and learn series, mentoring programs, certifications)? Does the work environment encourage the pursuit of growth opportunities?
  •  SUPERVISION:​ Is there a supervisor who is on call to answer any questions and provide regular feedback?
  • RESOURCES:​ Can the employer provide the necessary resources, equipment, and/or facilities to support the learning objectives and duties of the internship?
  • DURATION: ​Is this a temporary, time-bound opportunity? Is it at least 8 weeks long?