Are internship sites difficult to find? I don’t think my community has any that would work.
Every community has people working…if not right in the community, then nearby. Small businesses and non-profits as well as larger organizations are often eager to take on an intern. It is surprising how many working people exclaim that they wish they'd had something like an internship program when they were in high school or college and they are very eager to be mentors to young people. Community colleges often partner with local employers or non-profits so that students get real world experience in their chosen career area.
What about transportation?
Transportation is not as difficult to deal with as you might think. Some students come to school in the a.m. and then leave at the end of the day, getting dropped off near their internship along a bus route. Others find their own transportation. Larger communities often provide bus or train passes. Many grateful parents are happy to take or pick up a student at an internship.
How much does an internship program cost?
Once the program is set up and staff is trained then the cost of the program is about the same as the cost for one full time teacher, (if your program is full time) plus materials for students and sponsors each year (minimum costs). Community colleges often integrate internships into their existing academic and career offerings. Some schools incur a transportation cost, but others work out transportation arrangements with existing bus schedules or students get to internships themselves.
Do interns get paid?
Some do and some don't. Liability issues change when an intern is paid. Generally when interns are earning credit they are not also earning money, however some programs provide a stipend at the end of the internship. The key is to be very clear about this point so there is no confusion whatsoever.
How long should a student be at an internship site?
An entire year at one site is too long. Two weeks is too short. Half a semester or one semester is about right. The student needs to have time to get acclimated to a new place and needs to have time to do more than shadow someone. Some schools and colleges plan for a student to spend around 40+ hours at an internship to gain credit. If a student goes to a placement for three or more hours, at least two times a week for 8-10 weeks then there is continuity and ample time to actually do something other than small projects and activities.
How can we be sure students are getting specific skills
at internship sites?
The student learning guide (Internship Learning Plan), site visits and talking with the students and sponsors are good ways to assess skills.  Seminars or weekly class meetings reinforce on-site learning. Most schools and colleges require students to keep a portfolio or do a presentation at the end of their internship so that students can demonstrate the skills they have learned.
How do we know interns aren’t being used to do
“grunt work”?
If there is an Internship Learning Plan in place for the site, then the student and sponsor will have a clear understanding about what is expected. Occasional "grunt work" activities are ok if the student is not the only one making coffee and copies and doing the routine things expected in any office. But that type of work should not take up the majority of the intern’s time.
What kinds of businesses and organizations take interns?
Practically all businesses and organizations will take an intern if the sponsor knows the school will provide support and not just leave the sponsor to devise activities and projects on their own.