employer internship info / FAQ

Why hire a RISD intern?

RISD interns bring creativity and new technologies to their jobs while gaining hands-on experience and a deeper understanding of their intended career path. Hiring RISD students as interns allows employers to foster a stronger connection to RISD, while identifying individuals who might be a good fit for your company or organization in the future. Through ArtWorks, the Career Center job and internship board, employers gain access to a pool of talented and hard-working students and alumni from one of the most outstanding art and design schools in the world.

What is an internship?

Internships are typically one-time work or service experiences related to a student’s major or career goal. The internship generally involves a student working in a professional setting under the supervision and monitoring of practicing professionals. Internships can be paid or unpaid, full time or part time, and the student may or may not receive academic credit for performing the internship. Students can, and often do, receive both credit and payment (or other forms of compensation) for their time. An intern should not replace regular freelance or permanent employees. RISD strongly encourages students to pursue internships, and expects that these opportunities should provide students with substantive and relevant work experience in a professional setting.

What are the building blocks of a successful internship experience?

To ensure that an experience is educational, and thus eligible to be considered a legitimate internship, the following criteria must be met:

  • The experience has a defined beginning and end, and a job description with desired qualifications.
  • Learning objectives are clearly identified and are related to the professional goals of the student’s academic coursework or interests.
  • No more than 20% of an intern’s day should be spent on repetitive, mundane tasks. Develop a detailed, well thought-out job description and list of potential intern projects. Give students real work and remember to balance out routine tasks with more interesting projects. An intern can help you get the job done that you couldn’t otherwise, so it makes sense to utilize your intern well.
  • Create a thorough orientation and training to the position, the department and your organization.
  • There is supervision by a professional with expertise and educational and/or professional background in the student’s field of interest.
  • The student intern receives routine feedback from an experienced supervisor.
  • There are resources, equipment, and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning objectives and goals of the student intern.
  • The experience must be a learning experience that provides for applying the knowledge gained in the classroom. It must not be simply to advance the operations of the employer or be the work that a regular employee would routinely perform.

What are the elements of a proper internship listing?

When posting an internship to ArtWorks, employers should provide a complete internship description that is similar to a job description, including the professional nature of the work expected, and the willingness of the employer to provide supervision and mentorship. All internships posted on ArtWorks will be vetted by career center staff for academic integrity, curriculum fit and program guidelines. The Career Center plays no role in screening or selecting interns, which is the sole responsibility of the company or organization.

What is the criteria used by RISD to approve a credit-bearing internship?

RISD expects sponsors of internships for credit to provide career-related experiences that are of sufficient challenge to college-level students. Enrollment in an internship for credit requires approval of the student’s Internship Advisor, Department Head and Division Dean, who will verify the experience for professional appropriateness.

What are the considerations between paid vs. unpaid internships?

Taking a non-paid internship may constitute an economic hardship for some students, and thereby may limit the pool of qualified candidates you receive. The College therefore encourages internship sponsors to pay their interns at minimum wage or above. If you cannot pay an hourly wage for a RISD intern, you might consider offering some other form of compensation such as a stipend to cover daily meals or travel costs, or provide credit tuition reimbursement for internship credits, especially for a full time internship. Receipt of academic credit in addition to wages (or other compensation) for an internship does not represent a conflict of interest for employers. Learn more about internship programs under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

How does the intern recruitment process work at RISD ?

What are the best times of year for student internships? Are certain semesters better than others?

Students are most available to participate in an internship during the summer (June, July and August) and during Wintersession (6 weeks in January and February). Students are permitted to work as part-time interns during fall and spring semesters though this is much less common due to the academic schedule and coursework requirements. View the Internship Timeline for exact dates.

Does RISD host an internship and/or career fair?


  • It is an annual event in the Fall at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence RI
  • 80+ companies & organizations; 400+ students participate.
  • Learn about programs, make important contacts & introduce yourself for consideration of internship opportunities.

Where can I find student and alumni portfolios?

  • Search RISD Portfolios, an extraordinary showcase of creative work across all disciplines.
  • Reach out directly to the talent you need for your opportunities.

Additional internship info for employers

  • Starting and Maintaining a Quality Internship Program, compiled and edited by Michael True.

  • Glossary of terms

    Paid Internships: These are internships that meet state requirements for minimum wage. Generally, for paid internships, gaining academic credit is optional. Recent graduates, as well as students, are often hired as paid interns.

    Unpaid Internships: Under federal law, if a student is interning at a for-profit company and is unpaid, they will be required to receive academic credit for the experience. Credit is determined appropriate and granted solely by the student’s academic institution, and is determined based on the educational merits of the experience.

    Compensation Bearing Internships: These internships typically offer stipends for travel or meals, Metro cards for transportation or a daily pay rate. These are not paid internships and do not offer any of the benefits or rights for interns in the workplace. If an internship is in the for-profit sector, these internships will typically require students to be registered for academic credit (like unpaid internships) under Federal Labor Laws.