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Pepperdine | Seaver College

Internships: Employers

Pepperdine is committed to preparing students for lives of service, purpose and leadership.  To that end, we seek to provide our students with real-world experience in settings where they can develop a commitment to service, a life of purpose and a vision for leadership.

Our students are eager to take advantage of the real-world workplace opportunities afforded by an internship experience.  Pepperdine University encourages students to pursue internships throughout the academic year and grants academic credit based on established criteria.  Internships may be paid or unpaid.  Our calendar is divided into three terms:

  • Fall--late August through early December
  • Spring--January through April
  • Summer--May through mid-August
       (Most students seek paid positions full or part time) 

 Roles and Responsibilities

Each party has responsibilities to and expectations for each of the other parties.  At Pepperdine University, we strive to facilitate appropriately balanced internships, where each party is aware of and capable of fulfilling their responsibilities.  In this setting, internships can be rewarding and mutually beneficial.

Balance Learning and Labor: Perhaps the most unique aspect of an internship is its dual nature: it is both an exercise in learning and in labor.  For an internship to be optimally successful, a balance between learning and labor must be maintained.  Employers need to actively participate in providing learning opportunities for their interns.  This can be facilitated through training sessions, job shadowing, attending strategy meetings, and other such activities.

Job Description: Developing a job description provides both the employer and the intern with a clear vision of the internship requirements and responsibilities and serves as the tool to help clarify expectations.

Learning Agreement: This document explains and develops the job description.  Students identify specific and measurable learning objectives that meet both the job description and their academic requirements.

Instruction and Assessment: Hosting an intern requires making an organizational commitment to invest time and energy in educating the intern about the organization's culture, procedures, goals, and priorities.  Initial and ongoing training as well as regularly scheduled assessments are integral to good internship management.

Physical Resources: For an intern to be a productive learner and worker, the space and tools necessary for a professional job must also be available.  Typically, interns have public office space, including furniture, supplies, and access to a telephone and a computer.  They may, of course, share these resources with other interns and staff. Please note that in order for internships to be approved on our internships database, the student must report to a business site. Internships that allow students to remotely/virtually or in a home-based business do not meet approved internship standards.


Internships are a beneficial relationship between three parties: the University, the Employer, and the Student.  Each party benefits from the relationship.

Benefits for the Student Intern:

  • gain experience in the marketplace
  • engage in career exploration and preparation
  • apply academic learning in a professional environment
  • contribute to an organization in a meaningful way

Benefits for you the Employer:

  • gain innovative staff assistance at low cost
  • opportunity to impact the lives of students
  • flexible method for helping meet short and long term goals
  • projects a favorable image in the community
  • provides a vehicle to screen potential employees

Benefits for Pepperdine University:

  • facilitates student learning in a non-traditional atmosphere
  • allows the University to establish partnerships within the business community
  • integrates academic and professional spheres

 Academic Internships

  • Academic internships for Seaver students must be with employers who provide work space in professional settings as well as the tools to complete the assigned internship learning projects. Students requesting registration in internship courses must intern at sites that are deemed public (not associated with private residences or attached to private dwellings).
  • Authentic, structured and meaningful work experience with increasing responsibility
  • Participation in a planned learning environment
  • Well-defined learning objectives, which are measurable and can be completed over the course of the internship.  Learning may be creative in nature, project-oriented, facilitate the acquisition of new knowledge, and/or personal development.
  • Students hired as academic interns must be enrolled in a Seaver College internship course. Employers may not require interns to work during class times.
  • Employers must meet the standards required by the internship faculty.

    Academic internships must coincide with the semester schedule. Employers must meet academic hiring deadlines.

    • FALL TERM: Last week of August
    • SPRING TERM: First week of January
    • SUMMER TERMS: First week of May

 Strategies for Successful Internship

  • Determine the functional areas within the organization that would best be served by interns
  • Designate, train, and reward intern supervisors
  • Provide specific and meaningful responsibilities for the intern that increase over time
  • Conduct an evaluation of student performance at regular intervals and hold an exit interview
  • File mid-term and final evaluations with the University

 Posting an Internship

Attention Employers:  To post an unpaid internship, please review the following:

U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division: 
The Test for Unpaid Interns and Students

Courts have used the "primary beneficiary test" to determine whether an intern or student is, in fact, an employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In short, this test allows courts to examine the "economic reality" of the intern-employer relationship to determine which party is the "primary beneficiary" of the relationship.

Courts have identified the following seven factors as part of the test:

1. The extent to which the intern and the employer clearly understand that there is no expectation of compensation. Any promise of compensation, express or implied, suggests that the intern is an employee—and vice versa.

2. The extent to which the internship provides training that would be similar to that which would be given in an educational environment, including the clinical and other hands-on training provided by educational institutions.

3. The extent to which the internship is tied to the intern's formal education program by integrated coursework or the receipt of academic credit.

4. The extent to which the internship accommodates the intern's academic commitments by corresponding to the academic calendar.

5. The extent to which the internship's duration is limited to the period in which the internship provides the intern with beneficial learning.

6. The extent to which the intern's work complements, rather than displaces, the work of paid employees while providing significant educational benefits to the intern.

7. The extent to which the intern and the employer understand that the internship is conducted without entitlement to a paid job at the conclusion of the internship.

Courts have described the "primary beneficiary test" as a flexible test, and no single factor is determinative. Accordingly, whether an intern or student is an employee under the FLSA necessarily depends on the unique circumstances of each case.

If analysis of these circumstances reveals that an intern or student is actually an employee, then he or she is entitled to both minimum wage and overtime pay under the FLSA. On the other hand, if the analysis confirms that the intern or student is not an employee, then he or she is not entitled to either minimum wage or overtime pay under the FLSA.
For more information, please refer to the U.S. Department of Labor - Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act.

If you have a valuable internship opportunity, please register or log into Handshake to Post the Position.