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What is an internship?

An internship is designed to be a structured, supervised career-related experience. An intern is someone who works in a temporary position with an emphasis on on-the-job training rather than merely employment and is generally offered as credit-bearing through a college or university. The experience is meant to provide skill development and work experience for the intern and deliver a specific project need for the city.

Interns can be:

  • Undergraduate or graduate level students
  • Career-changers – individuals impacted by layoffs or looking to gain experience in a new field

Benefits of internships

  • City internships can provide an opportunity for an individual to experience or explore the public sector environment and gain a basic understanding of the broad functions of city government. Internships also serve as a good recruitment tool benefiting both the city and employee.

Benefits to an employer

  • Provides the labor and skill needed to complete a special project or task
  • May provide the opportunity for staff to gain supervision experience
  • Provides awareness of local government careers

Benefits to an intern

  • Ability to explore careers in the public sector
  • Make professional contacts
  • May be able to earn school credit
  • Offers the opportunity to gain knowledge and hands-on experience in local government/public service
  • Develop resume of work experience

Below is a list of Washington state colleges and universities which have internship information available. Most sites allow the city to post an internship.

Legal guidelines

Internships are meant to be educational and provide the opportunity to gain practical work experience. Internships can be paid or non-paid. However, in order to prevent liability, it is recommended the city cover even unpaid interns under your worker’s compensation policy. It is important for your city to understand the U.S. Department of Labor compliance regulations surrounding internship employment.

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