Best Practices

This information will help organizations establish an effective on-campus recruiting strategy as well as a successful internship program.

On-Campus Recruiting Strategy Best Practices

The following information will help you establish an effective on-campus recruiting strategy as well as a successful internship program within your company.

Credit / Work Standards

Companies need to be cognizant of the fact that the Smeal College does not recognize internships or award this credit for work done outside the classroom if it does not meet academic standards. The Smeal College awards credit for intellectual exploration and learning associated with work experience. Students should be able, within the context of the internship, to relate their work experience in some way to their course of study and gain insight from it. In order for our program to award credit or formally recognize an internship, the duties of the intern must be directly related to their major and the work performed must enhance their education.

The job should involve some managerial or decision-making activity and should not be clerical in nature. The intern's job should be structured with specific and varied duties that are meaningful to the firm and to its success and performance. In evaluating the job description, ask the question, "Could this work be performed by a nonexempt level or clerical employee?" If the answer is "yes", typically the internship will not be approved for recognition or credit. Internships should consist of assignments that are usually handled by exempt level, management, or professional staff. Students typically expect a high-level assignment that builds on skills learned in the classroom and offers the opportunity to learn new skills

Student Verification

As an organization you may require students to supply a means of verifying their education or credit enrollment. Per Penn State legal protocol we are unable to complete the forms provided by employers. To see what forms of verifications (Academic, Credit and Enrollment Verifications) and the steps required to receive these verifications, please click here. Please note that requests must be made by the student.

Time Requirements

It is recommended that students who take a semester off to work full time, perform an internship from 35-40 hours per week. Part-time internships require students to work an average of 10-15 hours per week for a minimum of 10 weeks for a Summer internship, 15 weeks for a semester long internship, and 6-8 months for a co-op.

Sophomores and Co-op/Spring Semester Internships

If your company is posting positions for sophomore co-ops or internships for spring 2016 that would take a student away from campus for the semester, please note that these students may not be eligible to accept the position due to Entrance To Major (ETM’s) requirements. 

Before interviewing a sophomore for one of the positions listed above please encourage the student to:

  • Consult with their academic advisor on their degree requirements to confirm that they will have completed their ETM requirements by the end of Fall 2015.  If they have completed ETM by Fall 2015, then they ARE an ELIGIBLE CANDIDATE for a spring co-op or spring internship away from campus.
  • If the student does not do this and has to renege on the company, the Career & Corporate Connections office will abide by the policies set forth in the SmealConnect User Agreement.
    • This document, which every student has to sign before accessing the system each year, includes the following statements: 
      • “If I am a freshman or a sophomore, I am eligible for a summer internship only”
      • “If I renege on an offer or continue to interview, I will be permanently terminated from further use of SmealConnect. This action is in direct violation of the Smeal Honor Code.”

Response Time/Accurate Follow-up

Topping the list of what students consider when making employment decisions is the treatment they receive following the interview. Companies interested in building a strong and positive image on campus will:

  • respond to students within the time frame specified during the interview
  • provide a top-notch follow up process for required paperwork (including reimbursement for second interview expenses, etc.)
  • inform students either way of the company's decision
  • follow-up a verbal offer with a written offer of employment

Students need to know where they stand at each stage in the process to be able to make the best decisions. Recruiters who fail to provide appropriate follow up to students as promised may damage the company reputation and undermine other on-campus efforts to become the "employer of choice" among Smeal College students.

Sending the Right Person

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Choosing the right person to send, whether it is for an event, the career fair, or the interviews, can make the difference in the way your company is perceived. It is important to send people who have an understanding of the positions available and knowledge of specific job requirements. Students surveyed list "sending the right person" as the third most important factor when determining a great company to work for.

Citizenship Requirements/International Students

In compliance with the provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), interview appointments will be made available to interested students who are authorized to work full-time in the United States regardless of their citizenship status, unless U.S. citizenship is legally required. If citizenship is legally required for your company, please indicate this as such on your job posting. Through your SmealConnect account, you have the option to filter the students who have applied to your postings based on their visa sponsorship status. Instructions on how to do this are listed on each employer’s homepage.

Keeping in Touch

Once the offer has been extended, stay in touch with the candidate. You may want to set up a "buddy" for the student, someone who is committed to staying linked via phone and e-mail while the offer is being considered. Sending company gifts is nice, but it is more important to return the student's e-mails and phone calls within 24-hours if possible. Either taking too long to respond to the student's questions or calling too much can both send negative messages. Students don't want to feel pressured, but they do want to be reassured of your interest. Arranging for someone to field questions and offer encouragement is helpful. Make sure you give the student enough time to consider your offer. Companies who pressure students into making decisions run the risk of getting students who are not really happy with their decision and may later renege.

Reporting Students Hired

The rankings of business schools in the popular press have become increasingly important to the way we manage our business. One of the ways that these rankings are determined is by studying the trends of students in the college who participate in internships. At the end of each semester, you will receive a request to submit the names of the Penn State Smeal students who have been hired to work with your firm. You can report the students' names online as well. We would appreciate your cooperation in submitting this information. It helps us in our attempt to continually improve our status in the business and academic communities and helps identify those students who may have neglected to self-report.

Culture and Jobs

When recruiters are candid about the realities of working at the company and living at the location, students can make informed decisions and will be happier when they get there. Being realistic yet positive about the challenges and rewards of working at your firm helps to build a memorable, lasting reputation among Penn State Smeal students.


Student evaluations have indicated that the most valuable internships are those where there is structured supervision. It is expected that internships, especially those in which the student is earning credit, will include:

  • an orientation to the firm and the expectations of the intern;
  • time allotted for any necessary training of the intern to learn new systems, processes or procedures;
  • ongoing (at least biweekly) meetings with the supervisor to discuss progress;
  • and assignment to a mentor who is committed to and engaged in the process.

The supervisor will be completing an evaluation of the experience which serves as a performance review for the student. A grade will be assigned and submitted to the Internship Program to be recorded on the student's transcript. You can view the University's grading system online. The student also completes an evaluation that can be shared with other students who are interested in an internship at the same firm. Students should be providing you with the evaluation form. The student evaluation form can be downloaded online.


Students highly praise internships where there are social opportunities provided to meet others within the organization, both other interns and other staff (i.e., company picnics or outings, dinners or receptions, or even organized team sports like softball or volleyball). Business travel is considered a plus, particularly when it involves an international experience. Students consistently award high marks to those companies who provide time for the student to network within the organization to meet new people, be exposed to managers or company executives, or to conduct informational interviews with people in other divisions or areas of the firm. Students understand that they are at your firm to learn, but also appreciate internship opportunities where they feel like they are considered employees and not temporary help. It is important for the students to feel as though they have added value to the organization in a meaningful way. Project-oriented internships are highly touted, as are internships where the student has the opportunity to make presentations or present information to superiors.

Housing & Transportation

When recruiters are candid about the realities of working at the company and living at the location, students can make informed decisions and will be happier when they get there. Being realistic yet positive about the challenges and rewards of working at your firm helps to build a memorable, lasting reputation among Penn State Smeal students.