The internship is a period of time students will spend in a company, carrying out activities related to their Study Programme, which will typically represent the main topic of their (either BSc’ or MSc’) dissertation.
The student may get an internship in a wide range of institutions:
- companies in Italy and abroad;
- Universities, in Italy and abroad;
- research centres, in Italy and abroad; other institutions with a scientific goal, e.g. hospitals, museums, amateur astronomers’ associations, etc.
Students whose Study Plan includes a mandatory internship can carry it out throughout their academic third year, either in the winter or spring semester.
Being a full-time job in the majority of cases, students should consider its compatibility with their classes. The time for finding a suitable company is usually long, therefore students are suggested to start seeking opportunities as soon as possible.
The internship duration is set with an agreement between the company and the student. The only constraint is fixed by regional laws: the internship cannot last more than twelve months in the same company. However, this is only an upper limit, as the usual duration is three to six months
How many hours?
The regional laws regulate also this topic: students cannot work for more than 160 hours per month, namely 8 hours a day, from Monday to Friday in a normal work week. Within this limit, the number of actual working hours is decided by the student and the company; in some rare cases, the students go to the company only few days a month and work the remaining hours from home. If the students have classes and exams, they must remember that job is usually full-time.
The law explicit forbids to work during the night, during weekends and holidays.
It is instead possible to take part in a business trip, but in that case the students are requested to communicate it to the SAT or Career Service, by fax or email.
Students will typically not get paid for internships. Some companies propose students an expenses refund, others may provide a flat-rate salary (few hundreds euros per month), but these are rare cases.
How to find a company?
The students are in charge of finding a suitable company. The Physics Department in fact does not have a list of available companies. Students may thus find the company in two ways.
- Go through job posts suggested by the Career Service of Politecnico. One might visit the webpage https://www.careerservice.polimi.it/en-US/Announcements/Home/Index/ and select Experience: Student or Near-Graduate, Agreement: Internship. A long list of companies appears, all of them being in the network of Politecnico. Once students find the company they prefer, they should click on “Apply” to send the company their application and CV. The company will receive the application and choose interns based on their criteria. When the company selects a candidate, the person in charge of the SAT will receive a communication and subsequently start the procedure from the side of Politecnico offices.
If the students see an available position but cannot apply, it means that the company restricted the access to the internship to Study Programmes not including Engineering Physics (e.g. only to Mechanical Engineering, Electronic Engineering, etc.). In that case, students indeed cannot apply, but may follow the second method detailed here below.
- Search for a company on their own. Students may find a suitable company for their internship in different ways: personal contacts, research on the Internet, job posts suggested by the Career service for which, if they could not apply, may directly reach out to the company HR, etc. In order to offer students an internship, the company must have an ongoing agreement with Politecnico. Companies sharing job posts via the Career Service always do. On the other hand, a company students reach out may not – in this case a formal agreement is requested. It is typically a fast procedure with no cost (besides few tens of euros for tax stamps). Once the company is selected and the agreement signed, students may start their internship, as if they found the company by method 1, via the Career Service. Some Universities and research centres abroad may require for internship agreements as well. Those situations ought to be assessed individually and managed by the Career Service.
Students’ tutor during internship?
When the student signs an internship agreement with a company, the latter is required to nominate a tutor within the company. This is a person from the company who will follow and help in the daily work. Students must, on their side, select also a tutor within the university, namely a professor expected to follow the internship activities until graduation – an academic tutor. The students are in charge of finding such tutor, typically a professor of their Study Programme. The tutor can be, in any case, a professor of any Engineering Department, not necessarily from the Physics Department.
What happens at the end of the internship?
When the internship comes to an end, the academic tutor and the person in charge of the SAT both receive an automatic communication and grant the internship ECTS, which will appear in the students’ career in case they have a mandatory internship. In the case of the Master’s degree, when internship is not mandatory, ECTS will not be granted and students will not see any change in their career.
To sum up the steps of the internship:
- students find a suitable company, either on the Career Service website or via other paths, and the two agree upon the internship period, the activities to carry out, job details, etc;
- if the company already has an agreement with Politecnico, it can directly insert the internship details on the Career Service website. Otherwise, students will reach out to the person in charge of the SAT and communicate all the information; the SAT will then insert the internship;
- the students find their academic tutor and gives communication to the SAT, that finally activates the internship. This typically requires some though fast bureaucratic procedures;
- students then start the internship;
- at its end, the person in charge of the SAT or the academic tutor will grant the credits, if applicable.
The procedure here described is mandatory to legally authorize the students’ activities in the company and for insurance purposes. The students are required to work in the company only for the period of time between the starting and ending date of the internship. If, at the end of this period, the work is not complete, the internship can be in any case extended up to twelve months.
Faculty Member in charge of Internships: Ermanno Pinotti