Resources & Best Practices


Top 10 Characteristics of a Successful Internship Program


In April of 2010 MAFEL members gathered to discuss the structural elements of successful internship programs that lead to positive experiences for students and internships sites.  Participating MAFEL members represented both academic internship programs and internship sites.  Using the group’s collective wisdom through a facilitated process, we generated an extensive list and then narrowed our focus to include only the top 10 structural elements.

Though it’s common for students to complete internships without the support of an academic, for-credit program, as a best-practice internships are a partnership between academic institutions, internship sites, and students.  Each has its own objectives, and the partnership’s structure has a major impact on how each objective will be met or unmet.  MAFEL endorses the following best practices for the structure of internship programs, and the relationship between academic programs, internship sites and interns.

MAFEL’s Top Ten Best Practices for Providing Orientations


MAFEL's Top Ten Best Practices for Evaluations

MAFEL's Top Ten Best Practices for Performance Management

In June of 2010 MAFEL members gathered to discuss the performance management elements of successful internship programs that lead to positive experiences for students and internships sites.  Participating MAFEL members represented both academic internship programs and internship sites.  Using the group’s collective wisdom through a facilitated process, we generated an extensive list and then narrowed our focus to include only the top 10 performance management elements.

Though it’s common for students to complete internships without the support of an academic, for-credit program, as a best-practice, internships are a partnership between academic institutions, internship sites, and students.  As with any partnership, communication is a major factor determining whether objectives will be met or unmet.  This is especially true for internships because interns are typically new to the workforce and need strong guidance in order to meet learning objectives and work objectives at the same time.  MAFEL endorses the following best practices for intern performance management and the relationship between academic programs, internship sites and interns.


Related Resources

National Society for Experiential Education (www.nsee.org) publishes the NSEE Quarterly, resource papers, monographs, and books, including:

  • The National Directory of Internships
  • The Experienced Hand: A Student Manual for Making the Most of an Internship
  • The Internship as Partnership: A Handbook for Campus-Based Coordinators & Advisors
  • The Internship as Partnership: A Handbook for Businesses, Nonprofits, and Government Agencies
  • Legal Issues in Experiential Education
  • Program Evaluation Handbook
  • The Role of Service-Learning in Educational Reform
  • Combining Service and Learning: A Resource Book for Community and Public Service
  • Service-Learning Reader: Reflections and Perspectives on Service
  • Research Agenda for Combining Service and Learning in the 1990s
  • Strengthening Experiential Education within your Institution
  • Origins and Implications of the AmeriCorps National Service Program
  • and other publications covering issues of practice and application, rationale and theory, and research


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