Traditionally internships have been conducted in-person at an organization’s workplace.  In a growing number of instances when circumstances preclude an in-person experience, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic, internships may be done virtually or remotely with some in-person elements. This document provides guidance to UMD internship coordinators, students, and supervisors/employers/hosts for conducting internships during such times.

Elements of a Well-Coordinated Internship
The internship is a relevant discipline-related supervised work experience that has intentional learning outcomes and goals for students. Our students can benefit greatly by engaging in a well coordinated and meaningful internship that is carefully planned and monitored by a UMD internship coordinator in collaboration with internal/external partners. 

A well coordinated internship includes the following elements: 

  • The student directly learns from a professional in his/her intended career field.
  • The student receives regular mentoring through weekly in-person meetings or video conferencing.
  • The internship site provides educationally enriching projects tied to learning objectives.
  • The internship has a mentor who provides quality training, supervision, and evaluation. 

Internship Guidance During COVID-19
There are times, such as during the current COVID-19 pandemic, when traditional on-site internships cannot be accommodated. The following guidelines apply to such circumstances to allow for the completion of the internship as long as clear safety precautions are in place and all parties agree to adhere to those precautions.  These guidelines reflect key UMD principles guiding decision making during COVID-19: 

  1. Prioritize the health and safety of every member of our campus community;
  2. Protect and support the educational and research missions to maintain academic excellence;
  3. Make decisions grounded in our values of equity and inclusion;
  4. Provide timely and transparent communication and obtain input from internal and external stakeholders about the proposed reopening plans.

Depending upon whether or not a student is pursuing academic credit (regardless if paid or unpaid), the following general guidelines should be followed.  In addition, UMD programs and internship coordinators are strongly encouraged to use the attached Guide for Developing Internship Protocols during COVID-19.

ACADEMIC CREDIT Internships*
This section provides guidance for students engaging in an internship for academic credit. When a significant disruption prevents a traditional on-site internship from taking place, the student should first contact his/her university instructor serving as the UMD academic internship coordinator to discuss options. In some cases, this discussion will include the internship host or supervisor from the site where the internship was to take place.  Two options are possible: 

Option 1: Converting an in-person internship to a virtual format.
If the internship host is able to assign remote projects and work responsibilities and provide mentoring through tele-communications, the internship may proceed. The student, UMD internship coordinator/instructor and  internship supervisor/host should agree on the alternative arrangements. Students and internship coordinators should refer to program-specific protocols to guide decision making during COVID-19 (refer to the attached Guide for Developing Internship Protocols during COVID-19). For best practices in remote work during internship experiences, please view the “virtual internships” section in our Internship Guide for Employers.

Option 2: Alternate approaches to obtain academic credit.
If completing an internship remotely is not an option, the intern should alert the internship supervisor to explore alternative learning activities that may substitute for the internship experience. If alternative learning opportunities cannot be accommodated, withdrawal from the course or changing the grading option may be considered. 

Please note that if the student cannot, or is not comfortable continuing in-person (presuming the internship site is open), he/she should immediately speak with the internship supervisor.

*Including 099 courses.

NON-ACADEMIC CREDIT Internships
If the internship is NOT for academic credit, the student and internship supervisor/employer should decide on an appropriate course of action.  There are two possible approaches: (1) arrange for remote project-based work, and (2) conclude the internship.  For best practices in remote work during internship experiences, please view the “virtual internships” section in our Internship Guide for Employers.

Please note that a student who is in a paid internship but not receiving academic credit is considered to be independently employed and should discuss any employment matters related to COVID-19 with their employer. The University is not a party to, and has no control over, a private employment relationship.

COVID-19 Considerations
Should a student participate in-person at an internship site, then adherence to current state and local COVID-19 directives, and CDC guidelines is required. Also, should such a student elect to continue in-person at the internship, it is done at the student's own risk. The University has the ability to create remote and/or independent study options for students in lieu of an in-person internship. Therefore, given the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, if a student rejects these internship alternatives, the student has assumed full responsibility for his/her well-being.  

If additional guidance is needed, please reach out to: 
Erin Rooney-Eckel
Senior Associate Director 
University Career Center & the President’s Promise
erooney@umd.edu 

Last updated July 24, 2020