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Policy 4.116
Student Interns (Unpaid)

Responsible Official: VP for Human Resources
Administering Division/Department: Employee Relations
Effective Date: June 22, 2012
Last Revision: June 22, 2012

Policy Sections:


Emory University recognizes that internships can be a vital part of the learning and education process in numerous fields. Emory provides unpaid internship opportunities to eligible individuals in certain fields of study. The purpose of these internships is to help further an intern’s training, education or career learning by providing planned and supervised activities within a practical setting in which the intern may apply what he or she is learning or has learned in a classroom setting. Emory offers a paid summer internship program, this policy applies only to unpaid internships.

Policy Details

Each department and unit at Emory University that offers an internship program establishes its own specific eligibility and qualification requirements for interns. An individual seeking an internship must check with the department or unit to ensure that he or she meets the requirements and qualifications of the internship program. The following is a list of additional requirements that an individual must meet in order to hold an internship at Emory:

1.      In order to serve as an intern, an individual must understand and agree that he or she is not an employee and therefore is not entitled to, and will not seek or receive wages, compensation, remuneration, or benefits for time spent in the internship, and is not eligible for workers compensation, unemployment or other benefits.

 2.      In order to serve as an intern, an individual must understand and agree that he or she is not entitled to a job or an offer of employment at the conclusion of the internship.

 3.      Prior to becoming an intern, a criminal background check may be required and completion of all necessary training.  

 4.      An individual serving as an intern must agree to work under the close supervision of the department or unit sponsoring the internship, as well as its employees.

 5.      An individual serving as an intern must understand and agree that Emory is entitled to terminate the internship for any reason, at any time, without prior notice or cause.

 6.      An individual serving as an intern may not displace a current employee serving in a paid position, replace a past employee who served in a paid position, or impair the employment of an employee holding a paid position at Emory. 

 7.      An individual serving as an intern is required to, and agrees to follow all Emory policies and procedures, and all external regulations that govern his or her actions, including, but not limited to, those relating to discriminatory harassment, conflicts of interest, ethical behavior, safety, confidentiality, protected health information, computer use, financial responsibility, and drug use.

 8.      An individual serving as an intern is required to, and agrees to follow all instructions, including but not limited to safety instructions, given to him or her by Emory employees or others supervising the intern.

 9.      No intern shall be permitted into a department where a supervisory relationship would exist between two relatives.

The responsibility for proper screening and engagement of interns rests with the head of the department or his or her designee, or the director of the particular internship program or his or her designee. The specific procedure for selecting individuals for internships is established and followed by each department or unit offering an internship program. 

 Requirements/Restrictions for Emory Departments, Units, and Personnel Using Interns

 In addition to any other requirements and restrictions enumerated in this policy, and the specific policies of the department or unit offering an internship program, a department or unit with an internship program is required to do the following:

1.      Ensure that the intern is not utilized as an employee and that the intern is not used to displace or replace any employee. Any and all assignments or tasks given to an intern should have an appropriate educational goal and be designed to help train the intern in the given field.

 2.     Closely supervise and instruct the intern to ensure that the educational mission of the internship is carried out.

 3.      Ensure that the intern understands and agrees that he or she is not an employee, and is not entitled to wages, compensation, or other remuneration or benefit, and make sure that no wages, compensation or other remuneration or benefit is paid or provided to the intern for time spent in the internship.

 4.      Ensure that the intern understands and agrees that neither the internship itself, nor any aspect thereof, entitles him or her to a job or a job offer at the conclusion of the internship, or creates an expectation of a job or job offer at the conclusion of the internship.

 5.      Ensure that, if an offer of employment is made to an intern after an internship ends, the job offer is consistent with all other applicable Emory policies and procedures.

 6.      Understand that the primary purpose of an internship is to benefit the intern by providing additional practical experience that will enhance the intern’s education and training in the field in which the internship is being offered.

 7.      Check with Emory’s International Student and Scholar Services to confirm that the internship activities are permitted by the individual’s visa status and immigration law and rules.

 8.      Ensure that the intern understands and is trained appropriately in all safety policies and practices, and adheres to these at all times.


An internship is an unpaid position in which a student or graduate gains practical experience in a supervised practical setting to enhance his or her education, training and skills in a particular field. An internship is primarily for the benefit of the intern, and not Emory or the sponsoring department or unit. This definition includes job-shadowing programs, sometimes called externships, which are designed to expose an individual to various career options through observation.

Related Links

Contact Information

Employee Relations and Organizational Development Associate  Sharmel Gonzalez  404-727-7625  sgonza4@emory.edu  

Revision History

No previous versions of this policy were found.