Sales Internship Guidelines


In order to receive the Certificate in Professional Selling, all students must have an internship in sales. While all internships are unique, the following are some of the guidelines that we use to ensure the internship aligns with the goals of the Certificate in Professional Selling. Each student should pro-actively meet with to ensure their internship meets the guidelines. Because the certificate is in Professional Selling, the guidelines are intended to ensure that the student enhances his/her skills during the internship.

  1. The internship should focus on sales. It’s reasonable to expect that firms will ask the student to enact a number of non-sales responsibilities and roles. However, a strong portion of these roles should be sales based and encompass multiple elements of the sales process. A few examples of sales-based roles include prospecting, preparing for sales meetings (i.e. research on clients), preparing sales materials (such as presentations or collaterals), meeting with clients, working on customer relationship management technology, calling clients, developing business proposals, etc.

  2. The potential internship employer should provide a job description that must contain (but is not limited to): a) the desired qualifications; b) the key responsibilities that will be assigned to the intern; and c) a beginning and end date for the internship.

  3. Responsibilities must be beyond the scope of the "average” part-time or temporary job. For instance, many students often serve in part-time positions or retail positions and ask if these positions would qualify. If these positions primarily focus on the order-taking element of the sales process, they will probably not qualify for a sales internship. Our goal is to ensure you are enhancing multiple sales skills, hopefully in a more relationship-based, business-to-business, sales setting. Due to the Center's strategic focus on business-to-business selling, our goal is to enable internships in the business-to-business sector.

  4. The internship should provide sales training. We want every student to have a learning experience during their internship. Hence, the employer, on the job description or other materials, should explicitly communicate how the student will be trained. For some firms, this will include formal training. Other firms may offer less formal (but still valuable) training, such as mentors, sales ride-alongs, shadowing, an opportunity to meet with clients while accompanied by a full time salesperson, etc. Opportunities that do not encourage learning are those that provide a minimal amount of training (or no training at all) and then send the student on sales calls with minimal or no supervision.

  5. The internship should provide guidance, supervision, and ongoing feedback to the intern. The supervisor should have the expertise, professional background and/or education in the field of sales.

  6. The internship should be a paid activity on an hourly basis, meeting at least minimum wage levels, or a guaranteed salary that meets or exceeds weekly minimum-wage levels. Internships that are not paid on an hourly basis; only offer commission-based compensation (or draws on potential commissions); or offer a stipend that does not meet minimum wage guidelines based on the number of hours the intern is expected to work; do not meet the guidelines.

  7. Internships should be working on-site at an established business's office or one of the business's facilities. Virtual internships or remote internships conducted off-site, such as working from home, do not meet the guidelines. Additionally, the employer should provide the necessary resources, equipment and facilities that support learning.

  8. The internship must be scheduled for minimum of 300 job hours and 10 weeks during the fall or spring semester or a minimum of 8 weeks and 300 job hours during the summer. The internship may be either full time or part time.

  9. Internship credit is not granted for previous experience.

Other areas that we consider:
  1. Does your internship represent a new experience, rather than simply a part-time job that you currently have?
  2. Can your internship experiences be expected to assist you to grow professionally?
  3. Does your internship employer accept responsibilities for helping you develop professionally?
  4. Are student and employer unrelated?

The approval process (specific to the Certificate in Professional Selling)
  1. The student must meet with the Director of the Center for Professional Selling and Sales Technology, regarding the internship and ensure it meets the guidelines (a personal meeting is mandatory). Please be aware, all internships are different. Thus, the one-on-one discussions are imperative to ensure we all understand the expectations of the employer and align with the guidelines of the certificate. Sometimes this means a quick discussion with the employer for clarification or a letter from the employer regarding their internship intentions.

  2. A job description from the intern employer is required. The student should ask the employer for a job description and bring it to the meeting with the Director of the Center for Professional Selling and Sales Technology.

  3. If the internship aligns with the guidelines, the student and the Director of the Center for Professional Selling and Sales Technology complete the internship approval form and forward it to the department chair for final approval. If approved, the department gives the student permission to register and also gives the student the employer evaluation form. The student then registers through the NDSU Career Center for BUSN 413.

  4. The student submits weekly reports to the Director of the Center for Professional Selling and Sales Technology. We have a format that you will be provided. The format is mandatory. The feedback from previous students suggests that the reports are very helpful when she/he develops their resume and prepare for job interviews.

  5. In addition, the student must submit a mid-term evaluation, a final evaluation, and a final evaluation by the employer.

  6. At the end of the internship, the employer submits the internship feedback sheet to the Director of the Center for Professional Selling and Sales Technology. The student is responsible for ensuring the employer completes the sheet and it is submitted and mailed within the last week of the internship period (i.e. the semester).

  7. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure all paper work is completed and meets all deadlines. Late work (i.e. the weekly reports) is not accepted.

How do others view internships?

The National Association of Colleges and Employers suggest the following criteria for an experience to be defined as an internship. To ensure that an experience—whether it is a traditional internship or one conducted remotely or virtually—is educational, and thus eligible to be considered a legitimate internship by the NACE definition, all the following criteria must be met:

  1. The experience must be an extension of the classroom: 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.

  2. The skills or knowledge learned must be transferable to other employment settings.

  3. The experience has a defined beginning and end, and a job description with desired qualifications.

  4. There are clearly defined learning objectives/goals related to the professional goals of the student’s academic coursework.

  5. There is supervision by a professional with expertise and educational and/or professional background in the field of the experience.

  6. There is routine feedback by the experienced supervisor.

  7. There are resources, equipment, and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning objectives/goals.

Class of 2013: Paid Interns Outpace Unpaid Peers in Job Offers, Salaries (May 29, 2013)

Among 2013 graduates who had applied for a job, those who took part in paid internships enjoyed a distinct advantage over their peers who undertook an unpaid experience or who didn’t do an internship. Results of NACE’s 2013 Student Survey show that 63.1 percent of paid interns received at least one job offer. In comparison, only 37 percent of unpaid interns got an offer; that’s not much better than results for those with no internship—35.2 percent received at least one job offer. In terms of starting salary, too, paid interns did significantly better than other job applicants: The median starting salary for new grads with paid internship experience is $51,930—far outdistancing their counterparts with an unpaid internship ($35,721) or no internship experience ($37,087). This is the third consecutive year that NACE’s annual student survey has captured internship data for paid and unpaid interns; in each survey, paid interns exceeded their peers in job offers and starting salaries.

Note: All data are for bachelor’s degree level graduating seniors who reported applying for a job before graduation. NACE’s Class of 2013Student Survey was conducted from February 15, 2013, to April 30, 2013. The survey yielded more than 38,000 responses from college students, including 9,215 from seniors earning bachelor’s degrees. Data for this story reflect responses from these seniors. The full survey report will be released in the fall of 2013.

Top of page