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What to Consider When Offering an Internship

A Madrigal Dinner is an excellent opportunity for internships. Roles like costuming, assistant directing, or marketing are all occasions for students to have hands-on experience. Internships will also lend credibility to your program and foster goodwill with parents. But before you launch an internship, here are a few items to consider:

Tips before you start your internship

What Is an Internship?

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) defines an internship as, “A form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional workplace setting.”

An internship lets students sample a career that they might be interested in. Besides gaining practical knowledge and skills, students can also use an internship to make professional connections.

As a director, you can offer many internship types; it doesn’t have to focus on only acting and directing. Students interested in business can learn about advertising and sales through a Medieval Dinner and event budgeting! Promoting the dinner gives students a taste of what a social media manager or content writer might do. For students interested in catering, event coordinating, or the culinary arts, a dinner theater is a ready-made event for experimentation.

What Qualifies as an Internship?

Internships must provide hands on experience.

First and foremost, an internship must be educational. According to NACE, an internship must include the following criteria:

  • Students must have opportunities to apply the knowledge that they’ve gained. And they can’t be used as just “free labor.”

  • The skills they learn in the internship program must be useful in real-world job settings.

  • There is an agreed-upon start date and end date, and the internship position must have specified responsibilities, expectations, and qualifications.

  • The specific learning objectives and goals must align with institutional requirements.

  • The intern must be supervised by a professional with experience in the field. This supervisor must guide, correct, and support the intern in his or her duties and provide whatever resources the intern needs to complete the internship successfully.

Should the Internship be Unpaid?

Currently, unpaid internships are legal in specific situations. To bring on unpaid interns, the internship must be mainly educational and provide more benefits to the intern than to your program. The Department of Labor frowns upon using students like indentured servants. As long as the intern is the primary beneficiary, you will have no trouble designing an unpaid internship. Also, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, non-profits and government agencies are exempt from these qualifications.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) offers a test to evaluate whether your internship can be unpaid:

1. There is a clear understanding between the program and the intern that it is unpaid. No hints or promises of future compensation.

2. The knowledge and training provided by the internship are comparable to what the intern would receive in an educational institution.

3. The internship integrates coursework or offers academic credit.

4. The internship must make allowances for the intern’s academic commitments and work around the intern’s academic calendar.

5. The duration of the internship is limited and understood by both parties.

6. The intern’s work cannot replace the work of an established employee. The intern’s work can complement the normal operations of the company or program.

Should the Internship be Paid?

A line of interns for a Madrigal Dinner program

Over 60 percent of internships are paid, and there are many benefits when you offer compensation. You’ll attract more qualified and eager students if the internship is paid. Furthermore, they will be more motivated and engaged in the work. That makes your event-- and you--look good. Also, many low-income students don’t have the luxury of taking an unpaid internship. Offering compensation allows them to apply to the program as well.

Is an Internship Right for Your Madrigal Dinner?

An internship is a good fit if you have the bandwidth to interview candidates, set up a program with clear, measurable responsibilities, and have experienced volunteers to act as mentors. But, an internship will certainly increase the credibility of your program. And since a Madrigal Dinner is part of your brand, attracting talent through your internship program will only boost your brand in the community!

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