Hire an Intern

sidebar students

Internships are academic learning experiences where students work under the mentorship of an experienced professional. Working on site, students apply their skills to real-world projects while learning about the industry, enhancing their skills, networking, and building their portfolios. In turn, employers get the benefit of the fresh perspective, energy, and creativity of an MCAD student.

Internships are coordinated through the MCAD Career Services Office: 612.874.3796 or careers@mcad.edu.

Internship Site Requirements and Expectations

Internship Site Qualifications

In order for an internship to qualify for academic credit, the business or organization must meet the following criteria:

  • Be established as defined by having a history of professional industry activities.
  • Be able to provide the student with the space or equipment necessary for the work.
  • Have time available to coach the student.
  • Have projects appropriate to the student’s abilities.

Expectation of Internship Hosts

Internship site supervisors are expected to provide direction, supervision, and feedback on the student’s work and work habits. As a mentor, they should assist the student in learning professional and ethical industry practices.

Location of Internship

As mentioned, in most circumstances, it is necessary for businesses to provide students a suitable working space and equipment. Internships cannot rely on MCAD facilities.

Occasionally, when appropriate to industry standards and the individual’s professional goals, students may earn credit working in a freelance capacity. Such freelance internship projects are possible only when the client who hires the intern is an established professional in the field.

Timing and Hours of Internship

Timing and hours are flexible to meet the needs of the business and the student. Most students work eight to sixteen hours per week during the academic year and eight to forty hours per week during the summer. If the business agrees, students may continue working once the required hours have been completed.

Students earn one credit for forty hours of work. Most internships are 120 hours, equaling three academic credits.

Starting an Internship

Promoting an Opportunity

Professional opportunities for students are posted on the MCAD Career Services Office website. Employers are able to set up accounts and post internships, jobs, or calls for artists. Students and alumni can access these listings at any time, and an email listing new opportunities is sent out each Wednesday. If an employer has a one-time creative opportunity for a student or an alum, they can email a position description directly to the MCAD Career Services Office at careers@mcad.edu.

Opportunity Description

Descriptions of internships should include enough information to help connect you with the most appropriate candidates. This usually includes:

  • description of the job or activity
  • estimated start and end dates
  • preferred number of hours per week
  • equipment or software knowledge required
  • whether or not it is a compensated position
  • how to apply

Additionally, most companies ask candidates to email a résumé, cover letter, and either a work sample or a link to an online portfolio.

What Students Are Looking For

  • Opportunities to apply their creative skills to professional projects.
  • Guidance, mentorship, and feedback from established professionals.
  • Opportunities to get involved with the organization and industry. This might include attending company meetings or industry events and being able to network with other employees.


Internships may be paid or unpaid, but, historically, most are paid. If a wage is not available, we ask that internship sites cover transportation and parking or other expenses incurred by the student. Pay usually ranges between $8 and $18 hourly. Students are encouraged to find internships that will be of most benefit to their professional goals.

Paid internships usually receive more applicants than unpaid internships. This is especially true for more technically intense positions.

Selecting an Intern

Like hiring an employee, there is not one specific way to find the best fit for a position. However, things to consider include:

  • Does the student have the technical skills necessary for the opportunity?
  • Is the student able to make a weekly commitment that does not interfere with classes or a job?
  • Is he or she excited about the work?

Meeting with the student, reviewing his or her work, and discussing the project will allow employers to get a feel for how the intern would be to work with.

Hiring an Intern

Once you and a student have decided to work together, he or she needs to complete an online learning contract. This simple form details the student’s responsibilities, internship time frame, and the hours he or she has committed to working. After completion of the form, the business will receive an email requesting approval. Once registered, the internship site will receive a copy of the agreement. If you do not receive a copy, please notify us immediately at 612.874.3796 or careers@mcad.edu.

Legal Matters

Current law states that businesses are not required to pay unemployment insurance or provide workers compensation insurance for interns, provided that specific terms are met:

  • The internship is a learning  or training experience of primary benefit to the student and for academic credit.
  • The student is not replacing a regular employee or guaranteed a job at the conclusion of the internship.
  • The student is not working in the usual course of the trade.
  • The position is meant to be one time or infrequent rather than permanent or regular.

All internship sites are provided with documentation stating that the internship is educationally relevant and for academic credit. Companies should consult with their own legal counsel for specific guidelines.

During the Internship

The MCAD Career Services Office will contact the site a few weeks after the internship begins. This is primarily a check-in to make sure everything is going according to expectations. We may ask to arrange a time to visit the site while the intern is at work. If there are any concerns about the intern, please notify us immediately at 612.874.3796 or careers@mcad.edu.

If there are any changes to the internship while it is in progress, such as a new work schedule or end date, please notify the us. It is expected that the intern will report to work as spelled out in the learning contract except in the case of an emergency. Any unusual or prolonged absences should be reported.

Ending the Internship

At the end of the internship, the site is asked to complete a short final evaluation about the student's technical, creative, and professional skills. This usually takes about five minutes to complete and is available online.