Unpaid Intern Policy

The University recognizes the value that unpaid interns receive while gaining exposure to, and experience in, a field of study or career of their interest. The following requirements and procedures establish when and how an individual may serve Suffolk University as an unpaid intern.


In general, an unpaid intern (or trainee) is one who:

  • Receives training that is similar to what would be given in an educational environment
  • Performs services primarily for his or her own benefit
  • Does not displace regular employees but works under their supervision
  • Produces no more than minimal value to the University
  • Understands that he or she is not entitled to wages, benefits or other compensation in connection with the internship
  • Is not entitled to a position with the University at the conclusion of the internship

An unpaid intern should not be confused with a volunteer. A volunteer is one who donates services for civic, charitable or humanitarian reasons or for personal purpose or pleasure and who derives no substantial or material benefit or advancement, other than altruistic satisfaction.

General Guidelines

There is no employment relationship between the University and an unpaid intern, thus an unpaid intern is not covered by any University health, accident, disability or worker’s compensation insurance or benefit. The University shall have no liability for personal injury or property damage which may be suffered by the intern, unless such injury or damage directly results from the negligent acts or omissions of the University or its employees.

An unpaid intern is an agent of the University while performing assigned duties. Therefore, unpaid interns are expected to abide by University policies and support the University’s mission and core values. An unpaid intern who does not do so may be separated from his/her internship.

The University will not accommodate unpaid interns who are:

  • Under 18 years of age (except for closely supervised participants in the Private Industry Council summer program)
  • Nonimmigrants on a student visa (J‐1 or F‐1), unless they have appropriate work authorization through Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Optional Practical Training (OPT), or Academic Training


The core principle of an unpaid internship is that the intern receives a structured learning experience.

The steps below are designed to ensure this.

1) A department chair/manager who wishes to accommodate an unpaid intern must first develop an Internship Profile that includes:

  • Title and name of supervisor
  • Dates of unpaid internship
  • Schedule / hours of work
  • Where services will be performed
  • Activities to be performed
  • Training provided by supervisor or others
  • Personal, educational or professional benefits the unpaid intern should expect to derive
  • How the internship relates to the intern’s course of study
  • Benefits, if any, to the University
  • Safety or risk issues (Risk Management will provide training)
  • How the unpaid intern’s services will be measured or evaluated

2) The department chair/manager must send the Internship Profile to his/her Human Resources Partner (HRP) for review to ensure the pre‐internship documentation is complete. Once approved by the HRP, the department chair/manager should also submit to the HRP at least one week before the internship is to begin:

  • The prospective unpaid intern’s resume and letter of intent
  • Contact details for the unpaid intern
  • If the unpaid intern is receiving course credit from Suffolk University or another
  • college/University, the specifics of the academic arrangement
  • If the unpaid intern is placed by an outside organization, the name, address and telephone
  • number of the contact person for that organization

3) The HRP will work with the unpaid intern to:

  • Complete background checks
  • Sign a confidentiality agreement, if applicable
  • Sign an internship agreement
  • Make arrangements for a temporary Intern identification badge

4) The department chair/manager will work with the unpaid intern to:

  • Review the University’s Mission and Vision
  • Complete sexual harassment training
  • Complete FERPA training
  • Complete any required safety training
  • Organize a campus tour (through the Welcome Center)

The HRP will also, as necessary, work with any outside organization that places students at Suffolk University to execute an affiliation agreement.