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What should be in your internship contract?

There is no labour agreement for university students in internships. In general, there is no law specifically covering this form of employment, so the terms of your internship depend largely on the contract you sign with the business offering the internship.

Before you start an internship, you should have a contract. The contract determines the terms of your employment and the conditions under which you work. Consider in advance what kinds of requirements you have for the provider of your internship.

At a minimum, an internship contract should include:

  • The right to a (trained) internship counsellor at the workplace, within a relevant field of work and knowledge, and the name of this person.
  • The right to a counsellor at the university within your field, and the name of this person.
  • A description of the professional benefits and the course of the internship.
  • The right to guidance, and the scope of that guidance before, during, and after the internship.
  • A description of your working conditions, any compensation you will receive, your rights, your working hours, and time allotted for professional development.

Good things to consider

Some of the things you might consider include:

  • Working hours: An internship is often defined as 37 hours per week, including time spent writing an internship report. Consider how you would like to divide your time. For example, you may want to work four days a week and write your report one day a week, or spend one hour writing your report every evening. At many workplaces, your lunch is included in those 37 hours — find out what agreement is in place at the workplace offering the internship.
  • Work tasks: Consider what primary areas you would like to be responsible for, and think about if you would like to have your own separate projects, or if you would rather be part of day-to-day operations.
  • Responsibility: Think about how much responsibility you want to take on. Responsibility often comes with exciting work tasks to perform, but remember that you are still a student, and you won't be paid to spend every waking hour finishing a project report or making ends meet for an event. Ultimately, that is your boss's responsibility.
  • Coverage for expenses and extras: Look into whether your workplace will cover (e.g.) transportation, a work telephone, or a computer.

When negotiating your contract

  • Have some requirements for your internship contract. You've been selected for an internship because you have skills that the workplace needs, and because you can create value for the organisation. Having well-thought-out requirements and plans for your education just shows that you take responsibility and work in a structured way.
  • Think of the situation like negotiating your pay, even if you aren't getting paid: Be very clear about what you have to offer the workplace, and what the workplace needs to offer you.
  • Be critical of phrases like "we usually..." and "interns normally can...". The contents of past internship contracts aren't your problem. You know what you think is reasonable, and you should stick to that.
  • Be sure that your internship contract covers every aspect of what you agree on: How many hours you'll work, at what times, when you need to be available, how to get time off in exchange for overtime, and your rights relative to those of other full-time employees at the workplace. Will you have a fixed workstation, a computer, and a phone? What is your educational plan? Who at the workplace is responsible for sticking to your educational plan? What areas will you be working in?

Working environment

There isn't generally a need for special working environment provisions in your contract. The Danish Working Environment Act ensures that you work under appropriate health and safety conditions during your internship. Additionally, it's your employer's responsibility to ensure that the workplace meets the requirements of the Danish Working Environment Authority for a good working environment.

Not sure about something?

If you aren't certain whether you're covered by the Danish Working Environment Act, you're always welcome to contact the Danish Association of Masters and PhDs.

Contact DM