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How Long Does an Internship Last?

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Internships are essential because they provide students with hands-on experience while also setting expectations for employers as they transition from training to full-time employment. For recruiters or managers that set up an internship program, it makes sense that there will be questions.

Many students or employers wonder: how long does this internship last? Or why is the length significant? To answer these questions, we have put together a guide to help managers and interns with how long their internship program should last.

What Is an Internship?

what-is-an-internship

An internship is a job training program usually completed within 10 to 12 weeks or during an academic semester. However, their duration varies from a few weeks to an entire year. Internships are more common among high school or college students and other entry-level professionals.

The one condition of internships is that they can’t be permanent and everlasting. They are required to discontinue based on the decided terms of the company and intern. The length of an internship is measured by the number of weeks or hours the intern works each week.

Additionally, internships can be part-time or full-time. Interns are usually graduates or undergraduates, and the work hours are flexible.

Factors That Impact the Length of an Internship

factors-that-impact-the-length-of-an-internship

Initially, the length of an internship program is determined by the college or university if you’re planning on receiving credits, or it can be determined by the employer that arranges the internship. At the same time, an internship should be long enough so that the intern completes projects that are valuable to the employer and intern.

The duration also depends on whether the applicants are college students. In that case, the employer should work around their schedule, allowing interns to get a more realistic work experience while not interfering with their academic life.

Although there’s no standard length for all internships, there are some types of internships that last for a specific amount of time. For example, a summer internship is usually offered to college students or graduates, lasting between 10 to 12 weeks. However, some other factors are essential in determining the length of an internship. Below we describe some of those factors.

Purpose

The first and most important factor is the purpose of the internship. If the purpose of the internship is to introduce a student to a specific field, the duration may be short. A more extended internship may be better if the student’s goal is to gain more in-depth skills and already have real-work experience in the field.

Employers and interns have different expectations of the amount of hands-on experience and the goals before graduating before full-time employment. 

According to a study by the Collegiate Employment Research Institute (CERI), 5% of respondents said that 2-4 months of work experience was meaningful, while 30% indicated 3-4 months. Surprisingly, 30% of respondents stated that the internship needs to last at least 12 months or longer.

Ultimately, the length of the internship lies in your hands. What are your goals for the internship? Opt for a time that gives you and your company plenty of time to accomplish these goals.

Budget of the organization

Another factor in determining the length of an internship is the company’s budget. While paid internships are highly beneficial to both parties, they can be expensive for the employer, so they must be carefully budgeted. Employers must review regulations and compensation laws under the Fair Labor Standards Act before deciding if the internship will be paid or unpaid.

The duration of paid internships can be one semester, six months, or even an entire academic year. If the internship lasts two semesters, it’s prevalent for the first semester to be unpaid and offer college credit and the second semester to be paid.

Employers must also consider how other employees will be working with the intern. Will that affect team member productivity? This should be included in their financial calculations as well. If the budget is small, employers need to determine the length of the internship accordingly. They will have more options to consider if the funding is sufficient for a longer-term program.

Student’s availability

The ideal length of an internship also depends on the student’s availability. Although not all companies offer job training programs on the same schedule as an academic year, all employers must strongly consider this alternative.

Most interns can integrate an internship program into the schedule only if it matches their academic calendar. Internships that fit into one semester or during the summer are more desirable to college applicants. That’s why summer and remote internships are better options for busy students.

Cost for the student

One of the downsides of an internship program is the cost for the student. Unpaid internships can be expensive for the intern. A college student who doesn’t have financial help might find it difficult or even impossible to participate in an unpaid internship for more than a few weeks. 

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According to research, the lack of affordability of internships means that low-income students will be disadvantaged in the labor market. For that reason, shorter internships might be more appropriate if budget concerns exist for both parties, not just interns.

How Long Does an Internship Last?

how-long-does-an-internship-last

An internship program lasts for a few weeks, six months, and an academic semester up to an academic year. When internships last for one semester, they’re typically 15 weeks long. While some internships may be full-time during the summer, the optimal work week is 10 to 15 hours.

That said, internships can range from a few days to a year. There might be some exceptions for paid positions or college internships, so they tend to last longer than a year, but that’s uncommon.

What kind of internships are long?

Depending on the circumstances, internships can last for a long time. Required internships like medical or on-campus internships can last one year. Since these are a requirement for your program, you might need to work fewer hours per week, giving you plenty of experience during a year.

Although it’s unusual for internships to last for more than a year, it’s possible. This type of internship is more prolonged and should be paid as it takes too much of your time and effort. Companies that provide such training may consider hiring you after you complete the program.

The longer the internship, the better they get to know you as a team member and see if you fit the company. It also helps you decide whether you want to work there permanently or not.

Are short internships worth it?

Absolutely, yes! Short internships are great if you want to experience different areas of a specific field. Because of their short duration, you can complete multiple short internships and learn about the areas in which you’re interested. It’s also a good option if you still haven’t decided on your career as it allows you more time to decide.

Another advantage of short internships is that they don’t take too much of your time, so if you’re a busy student or have another job, this is an excellent way of gaining experience while also being committed to an internship.

How should you decide the length of an internship?

You should decide on the length of your internship based on what works for your schedule and goals. If you must complete an internship for college credit or it’s a requirement, then you don’t have a say in the duration. However, if you’re thinking of pursuing an internship to gain in-depth experience and explore different fields of a specific career, then you can opt for internships that last for as long as you prefer.

Remember that the internship should benefit you in reaching your career goals. Sometimes, there might be a perfect opportunity, but it’s not the length you want. In that case, you should consider the pros and cons and decide whether it’s worth integrating it into your schedule.

Conclusion

While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer about the duration of an internship, you need to consider some factors. It also depends on the type of internship and the program’s structure, but it usually lasts between a month and one year.

Once you complete your internship, you will gain real-work experience and be given job opportunities if you prove yourself successful. It may take some of your time and dedication, but the results are always beneficial for both parties.

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