Are Student Staff Right for Your Business?
One of the many benefits we have as business owners in Wisconsin is access to a diverse and talented pool of UW-Madison students and alumni. Yet such a large institution has many nuances that may not be known to an employer.

In this special-edition newsletter, we'll provide you with a few ideas for how to engage with student staff and maximize your recruiting efforts. Topics include:
  • What Are the Benefits of Working with Student Staff?
  • Federal Work-Study Program for Part-Time Staff
  • Student Internship Opportunities
  • Internships: Paid vs. Unpaid?
  • Links & Resources for Hiring UW-Madison Interns and Alumni
  • SoHE interns: Understanding one of UW-Madison's lesser-known colleges
What Are the Benefits of Working with Student Staff?
  • Fresh perspective to solving old problems
  • Build community and university partnership
  • Talent pipeline as your business grows and opportunity to evaluate the student potential for a full-time role
  • Increased diversity for your team
  • Ability to focus on back-burner projects
  • Management experience for current staff as they supervise students
  • Access to new skillsets
  • Opportunity to offer mentorship to students and introduce them to your field
  • [For Work-Study jobs] Access to the student jobs platform at no charge
Looking for Part-Time Student Staff?
The Federal Work-Study Program can cover up to 75% of student wages
As of December 2020, as part of a pilot program, for-profit businesses can now hire students through the Federal Work-Study Program. This program was previously only open to on-campus employers and nonprofit entities.

What is the Work-Study Program?
  • Federally funded program
  • Student's eligibility is need-based, as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Therefore, eligibility for the program follows individual students who receive an award amount. They earn that award amount over time by working.
  • Work-Study partners have 75% of their student wages covered until the student's award amount is exhausted. After that time, the student is welcome to stay on in the role; the employer would then pay their full earnings amount. UW-Madison requires employers to pay at least $10 per hour; most employers pay between $10-$15 per hour.
  • Business must be located within the state of Wisconsin to participate through UW-Madison

How Do I Become a Work-Study Partner?
  • Complete an eligibility questionnaire to become a partner. The process takes about 4 weeks from the date the application is received until final approval.
  • No cost to become a partner
  • No consequences if you do not end up hiring a student

Additional Links and Resources
Student Internship Opportunities
On campus, an internship opportunity is generally defined as a one-time work experience, typically tied to the student's career interests. Summer (10-12 weeks, up to 40 hours per week) is the most common time for internship opportunities, though they can happen at any time throughout the year.

What Makes an Internship Successful?
  • Be honest about the work involved and commitment expectations
  • Consider your needs and what type of student is needed - do you need a specific skillset? Do you need basic tasks completed, or are you looking for someone who can proactively take on a particular project?
  • Clear preparation on behalf of the business and training opportunities for the student to engage. Do they have access to a mentor for everyday questions? Who will supervise them directly? What is the onboarding process?
  • Incorporating the student into your team
  • Providing feedback to the student at regular intervals

Other Notes
  • The majority of internships for students are paid opportunities. Some schools and colleges offer funding for students to help support their participation in unpaid internships.
  • Students may pursue for-credit internships and receive class credit. Certain schools and colleges may require an internship as part of the student's graduation requirements; if this is the case, it can be helpful to ask if you as the employer have any obligations in this area.
Internships: Paid vs. Unpaid?
Tips from a UW-Madison Internship Coordinator
Paid internships can be more attractive to students, lead to higher retention rates, and increase overall satisfaction compared to a peer in an unpaid internship

Additionally, if your organization is for-profit and opts to offer unpaid internships, you must be aware of and consider the legal ramifications outlined in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)’s primary beneficiary test to ensure you are legally able to offer an unpaid experience. We would also encourage you to consider inequities that may arise with unpaid internships, especially for students with underrepresented identities such as first-generation students, low income students, students of color, and women. For additional considerations and suggestions, refer to Everything You Need to Know About Paying Interns

If your organization is unable to offer a regular wage, consider helping the intern with a stipend or internship-related expenses such as parking fees, mileage, meals, housing, professional development opportunities such as conferences, etc.

The majority of internships for students are paid opportunities. Some schools and colleges offer funding for students to help support their participation in unpaid internships. This process is typically student-driven; the student should contact their career services office to learn more.
Links and Resources for Internships and Full-Time Hires
  • Handshake is the campus recruitment software. This platform is used to post both internship opportunities and full-time jobs for graduating seniors. To participate, you will need to join Handshake as an employer by registering your company, and posting your job or internship once your organization is approved. Handshake is used across campus, so you can connect to students of all majors on the platform.
  • As you are submitting a job or internship opportunity through Handshake, it can also be helpful to connect with one of the UW-Madison Career Services teams to build a personal relationship with campus staff. Campus has many career offices that work with students in particular majors. To learn more about Career offices, visit
Could you benefit from a SoHE intern?
Understanding one of UW-Madison's lesser-known colleges
Students in the School of Human Ecology (SoHE) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison participate in a career readiness curriculum, which requires all undergraduate students to complete one, for-credit internship (150 work hours during a Fall, Spring, or Summer academic term) related to their major prior to graduation. SoHE’s Career Development team is always on the lookout for local business/alumni connections and organizations interested in hosting paid interns in the following areas:

  • Textiles & Fashion Design
  • Interior Architecture
  • Community & Nonprofit Leadership
  • Human Development & Family Studies
  • Retailing & Consumer Behavior
  • Personal Finance

Additional Information about SoHE For-Credit Internships
  • The work should relate to the student’s major/coursework. The independent project (also listed in the PDF) is also an opportunity for students to take ownership of their work and complete meaningful work. View the PDF document above for more information, and connect with Danielle Croegaert, Employer Relations & Internship Coordinator for a consultation about creating a SOHE internship.
  • In this for-credit internship, the employer's role is to provide supervision and mentorship, and facilitate feedback/communication. Most internship courses will require students and supervisors to complete, at minimum, a formal mid-point and end of semester performance review. 
The Wisconsin SBDC Network is a proud part of the Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship in the University of Wisconsin System. It is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.