Internship and Job Shadow Information

Youth Internship or Job Shadow Opportunities at Iowa State University

Youth internship or job shadow opportunities are offered at the discretion of supervising staff after receiving approval of their department/unit chair.  ISU recognizes that there are additional responsibilities and requirements that departments/units must consider when a university opportunity involves youth/minors (children under the age of 18).    These requirements are outlined in the Youth Activities, Pre-Collegiate Programs and Camps and/or the Children in the Workplace policies and procedures.  Please submit your internship or job shadow request by using the Internship and/or Job Shadow Request (for youth) form.

Which policy applies?

Youth Activities, Pre-Collegiate Programs and Camps (YAP)

Generally, all organized programs for youth enrichment fall under the Youth Activities, Pre-Collegiate Programs and Camps (YAP) policy.  Individuals who will be organizing hosts for multiple participants or for longer term (more than one day) internships should follow the process for the Youth Activities, Pre-collegiate Programs and Camps. 

Children in the Workplace Policy (CIW)

Activities such as a one-day job shadow, tutoring or similar activities are exempt from the Youth Activities Pre-Collegiate Programs Policy, but have requirements found in the Children in the Workplace Policy.

Job Shadow

The job shadow experience is a temporary, unpaid visit to the workplace in an occupational area of interest to the student. Students observe the work environment, employability and occupational skills in practice.  The experience may help students to make a connection between their classroom learning and application of those skills in a work environment. 

Job-shadow opportunities at ISU are most often requested by middle school and high school students to allow them to learn about a job by observing a faculty or P&S employee during one of their work days. A short-term job shadow opportunity (one day or less) is when a student is allowed to observe and/or perform tasks in the work environment under supervision of faculty or P&S staff.  Experiences that involve a longer duration or hands-on learning for one individual is identified as an internship.  When an internship is offered to more than one person or interns, the program must meet the requirements for a university sponsored youth program.

Supervisor Responsibilities

When individuals are under the age of 18, university facilities and grounds can present a variety of potential hazards to individuals unfamiliar with them. Risks associated with these potential hazards are greater for children who often lack the hazard recognition abilities of an adult.

The purpose of the Children in the Workplace policy is to establish criteria that welcome children to the university, minimize the risk of injury to children, and promote an environment conducive to accomplishment of the university's mission. 

When an ISU employee, collaborator or graduate assistant agrees to supervise a child under the age of 18 on campus, that situation is subject to the Children in the Workplace policy if it is more than incidental or intermittent and is not part of a registered youth activity, program or camp. Examples include:

  • Tours of ISU facilities
  • Individual lessons (e.g., music) or tutoring/mentoring
  • Individual non-student child doing research in a laboratory with a professor
  • Job shadowing an ISU employee
  • Individualized academic experiential learning/enrichment or internship

Individuals who wish to host a job shadow or other intermittent experiences:

  1. Must receive permission from their supervisor and department chair.
  2. Forward the email from the department chair approving the job shadow to the Office of Risk Management,
  3. Complete the Job Shadow or Internship Request form at the Risk Management website
  4. If there is potential for youth to be in a laboratory or other hazardous areas, please contact the Office of Risk Management who will consult with Environmental Health and Safety to review and recommend safety processes or training prior to the experience.
  5. Program staff or supervisors sponsoring internship or job shadow opportunity must have an approved background check on file prior to interacting with youth. Supervisors should submit a Background Check Request form to the Office of Risk Management ( at least three weeks in advance of the program start date.
  6. The Office of Risk Management will prepare a Participant and Parental Permission Agreement specific to the experience.


An internship is a temporary, hands-on learning opportunity that provides meaningful, career-related experience extending a student's education beyond the classroom. At ISU, internships can be paid or unpaid, for credit or not for credit, and for career-related experience at ISU or at an external (non-ISU) employer.

The department/unit offering the internship program is responsible for ensuring that the internship is meaningful and will serve to enhance the student's educational experience and career development.

Internships are not:

  • Jobs or volunteer work that provide little or no opportunity for students to learn about their career of interest
  • Jobs or volunteer work that are unrelated to the student's academic discipline
  • Jobs or volunteer work with little or no training, guidance, and supervision

More information is available at the Provost Office website Experiential Learning - Internships, Cooperative Education Programs and REUs

Contracts or Agreements between ISU Departments and Third Parties for Youth Programs

Agreements for youth program learning opportunities that are provided for or in partnership with Third Parties should be reviewed by the Office of University Counsel.  Only persons with delegated authority to sign agreements may bind the University.