Before the Intern Starts

Written by Judy James, Akron-Summit County Public Library


Before the internship begins, it is important to discuss and agree on the practical aspects of the experience. Working together, the intern and host site supervisor should agree on a start and end date, the number of hours expected each week, and a weekly schedule. Remember that your intern will appreciate flexibility regarding his or her schedule. Examinations, school projects, or family obligations may impact a student’s schedule. If your organization has a human resources department, advise them regarding your intern.


An ideal project is one that benefits the student as well as the host site. It is important to ascertain what the intern hopes to gain through this experience. Do they want to focus on something specific such as collections management, reference service, or exhibit design, or, are they interested in a broad experience? An internship project should be of such scope that it may be completed by the student before the internship concludes. Although it is important that the project be meaningful, and not simply filling in to complete menial or clerical tasks, it is useful to expose interns to day to day activities of your organization, including the everyday tasks necessary to sustain your organization. Most internship projects will require the approval of an academic advisor. If questions arise regarding the value or relevance of a project, the site supervisor and advisor should communicate and agree upon a suitable project.

Space, equipment and tools 

Interns should be provided adequate work space, tools and supplies with which to complete their assigned projects and tasks.