Internship FAQs for Employers

Knowledge is Power!

It’s common to have questions about internships and recruitment. Below you will find answers to common questions employers ask. 


1. Can my company offer an unpaid internship?

This is a common question. The federal law requires that all unpaid internships in the private for-profit sector meet criteria established by the Department of Labor (DOL). The criteria consist of six factors commonly referred to as “The Six Prong Test.” The internship must meet all six factors to be lawfully considered an unpaid internship. The Six Prong Test can be found at the DOL website. Each organization is responsible for ensuring its legal compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). A student receiving credit for an internship has no correlation to whether or not an employer is legally obligated to pay an intern.

An unpaid internship should be similar to a job shadow. This means that the intern "shadows" a professional over half the time, under very close supervision. The experience of an unpaid intern should be similar to an experience in a classroom. This means that the experience should be closely monitored, supervised and include research, learning, and projects. The work-site is considered an extension of the classroom and the employer becomes an extension of the educational instruction. If an employer seeks to benefit from the work of an intern and expects the intern to work independently, the employer may need to offer a paid internship. The SJSU Career Center can assist with the hiring, payroll, and administrative process.


2. How does a student receive credit for obtaining an internship?

Each department operates independently. There may be some variation in the process depending on the student’s major. Typically, a student should speak with their department first and learn the expectations and logistics of obtaining credit for an internship. Most departments give the students a packet for the employer to sign that outlines the expectation of the experience.

Professors often ask the employer to evaluate the student at the end of the experience. It’s important to note that the institution provides the credit to the intern, not the employer. The employer provides the training, experience, evaluation, and compensation. Whether or not the university grants credit for an internship, each employer is responsible for ensuring its legal compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). A student receiving credit for the internship experience has no correlation to whether or not an employer is legally obligated to pay an intern.

For students earning credit for the internship experience, the employer will be required to complete a University Organization Agreement (UOA).

3. How should I market my internship opportunities?

Marketing your internship or job opportunity is an active and engaging process. Branding your company on campus can take years and should be a long-term goal. SJSU talent is in high demand and tens of thousands of employers compete for SJSU students. Here are some ideas to consider to gaining greater visibility:

  • Post your job on SJSU Handshake.
  • Contract your recruiting/sourcing to SJSU Spartan Staffing recruiters.
  • Attend a Job Fair.
  • Host an Information Session through the Career Center.
  • Become a Career Center or Job Fair Sponsor.
  • Ask the Career Center about our social media marketing sponsorship package.
  • Connect to student groups and organizations on campus.
  • Connect with student groups and organizations on Facebook.
  • Drop off fliers of your opportunity to the Career Center.
  • Join San Jose State University related Yahoo! and Google Groups that consist of students.
  • When marketing your job or internship, mention that your posting is in SJSU Handshake and provide the ID # so students can easily access it.
  • Ask the Career Center if they have any personal referrals from our job placement program called WorkAbility IV.
  • Consider publishing an ad in the Spartan Daily and list the SJSU Handshake ID #.
  • Opt-in to our recruitment and partnership opportunities by logging into your SJSU Handshake account, clicking “Account” and selecting all additional services of interest.

Note: the above marketing tasks can be completed for an employer when they open a contract with SJSU Spartan Staffing.

4. When is the best time to post my internship to SJSU Handshake?

This will be determined by when you want your intern to begin working. Many employers recruit in the fall to gain a head-start for summer interns. Recruiting in spring is equally as popular. Give yourself a couple months to market, screen, and recruit. The most active months for internship posting are between February and May.


5. Can the Career Center refer or recommend a student for an internship?

YES! Through a fee-for-service program, SJSU Spartan Staffing will identify, attract, and recruit candidates for any job or internship. Each quote is customized and our recruiters have access to thousands of student resumes via job fairs, job postings, students clubs/organizations, etc. In addition to SJSU Spartan Staffing, we also have a small no-cost job placement program called WorkAbility IV that allows us to recommend candidates from the program for job and internship opportunities.  Ask a Career Center representative to connect you to the WorkAbility IV program.


6. Can the Career Center introduce me to student club leaders?

The Career Center has various relationships with student clubs, organizations, fraternities, and sororities. We provide consultation to employers on the best ways to connect with student groups and can offer best practices to help you build your brand on campus. Employers are encouraged to outreach independently from the Career Center to establish relationships.


7. I posted my job to SJSU Handshake, but I would like to receive more applicants, how do I do that?

First, follow the suggestions from the “How should I market my internship opportunities?” question above.

There are several reasons why students choose to apply for a job or internship. One of the reasons is because the internship has an interesting job description. Develop an attractive job description that outlines the role, company, work environment, skills, duties, and learning outcomes. Silicon Valley is a very competitive environment for both job seekers and employers. Make your job description stand out. Identify your competitive edge and entice the job seeker.

It’s important to note that creating a brand on campus takes time. You may notice that after a few cycles of internship recruitment, your internship postings may receive more applicants. This is because students talk. They share their work experiences with classmates, professors, and staff. Over time, your internship program may gather traction and popularity, resulting in a larger talent pool for your organization. For a sample internship job description visit


8. I don’t know how much of a salary to offer an intern, what would the Career Center recommend?

An intern’s wage will vary depending on several factors. Some aspects to take into consideration include experience, level of education, major, work location, responsibilities, and of course your company’s budget. Many companies offer interns approximately 75% of the wage they would offer a permanent employee in a similar role. To receive the most recent salary data, log-in to your SJSU Handshake account, click the “Account” tab and select “Economic/salary/workforce trends/updates & reports.” You will receive related information as it becomes available. If you are interested in recent graduate salaries, you can view our employment and salary reports here.


9. How are internships different from regular employment?

Internship experiences differ from regular employment primarily due to the emphasis on learning and professional development. Regular employment is a paid work experience that may be unrelated to your major and may lack specific learning goals. All work experiences have routine tasks (data entry, clerical work, telephone calling), however, internships should be offered with the intent to foster real-world experience, learning and professional training combined. Remember, an internship is a learning experience, not a regular job.