Do Internships Run Background Checks?

Anyone that has a criminal record is concerned it will appear during a background check. With the majority of employers now carrying out this check, there is reason to worry.

For many felons, it can be tough to secure work upon release. They often have to compromise and take up low paying retail jobs to survive. They target such places as fast-food restaurants like Burger King, to supercenters like Walmart.

Others choose to go back to school. This is a better way to enter the job market. But do internships run background checks?

do internships run background checks

As said, finding work is hard for felons due to the revelation of past actions. Many employers are inclined to pick other non-felon candidates for the job. They consider those with felonies to be high risk.

Felonies are the most severe of crimes. As such they are not the kind of people most employers working for them. Especially if the nature of the jobs makes it likely they will re-offend.

Background checks coupled with the gap in work history will often reveal this history. Returning to school is a good way to start over for many felons.

Even if they may also have to work, it can be a good stepping stone to a better job. Many colleges now partner with employers to arrange for student internships.

These are a good pipeline to later full employment at these same organizations. So how do internships work?

What Is an Internship?

do internships run background check

An internship is a short-term work opportunity provided by employers to college students. The work period can vary anywhere between 1-12 months.

It can be part-time training undertaken while still learning. Or it could be a full time during a vacation or at the end of the degree course.

Some internships are paid while others are voluntary. Paid internships are typically the most sought after. Not just for the money but an employer who has consideration for its interns.

The goal is to help the student gain real-world experience. In the type of occupation, they are training for.

Where the college degree is broad, it can expose them to various niches of the business. This way they can better decide what area to specialize in.

Much of the work tends to be clerical. This can include filing, photocopying documents, data entry, and scheduling appointments. However, students are exposed to more complex and specialized work like project management.

This training makes them better prepared to enter the job market when they eventually graduate. It also makes them more competitive candidates than those without any work experience. Many employers often go on to hire from this pool during their next recruitment exercises.

Why Seek an Internship?

do the internship run background check

There are many benefits associated with securing an internship. If you are paid, you will be making some money early on. Though not much, it means not having to pay out of pocket for such expenses as commuting.

As said, it also provides good exposure to the industry you wish to join. You gain a better insight as to what the day to day job entails. It also means you define what niche to focus on.

As you work you also get to interact with a variety of people. From both within and without the organization. You can establish contacts that can be of help later on.

Besides networking, you also get to boost your resume. Being able to reference your time working somewhere in the industry adds to your work experience qualification. This will make you a more desirable work candidate for a prospective employer.

For employers, there are also benefits associated with hiring former interns. Their familiarity with the work environment means less orientation and training is needed. Especially if they interned at the same company.

This can be cost-saving to the business as the new hire can quickly get to work. It also means less time and effort are wasted during evaluation. This is due to interns often being vetted the same as other new employees when hired.

With all these upsides, do internships run background checks?

Do Internships Run Background Checks?

do internship run background check

As mentioned above, interns are often subject to a similar level of vetting as other new hires. This also includes background checks.

Employers will often undertake criminal background checks, credit report checks, and academic background checks. If there is driving involved in the job, they may also review DMV records.

However, these checks may vary. Some employers will only do this if the job gives the intern access to sensitive material. For instance, the private records of clients, cash, or valuable company assets.

If the nature of the job is however not sensitive, the company may not choose to run a background check.

For employers to legally run a background check, they must have consent from the applicant. This will likely be a form that requests signed consent.

Sometimes consent is sought during the application process. Other times it is part of a conditional job or internship offer.

It is however good to note that just because this is asked it does not necessarily mean rejection.

When companies choose interns, they weigh a variety of issues. This can include:

  • Degree course relevance
  • Performance on assessment tests
  • Interview performance
  • Additional skills brought to the table
  • Key competencies the company is looking for
  • Enthusiasm for the job and industry
  • Character and work references

If the employer discovers criminal history, they will also consider:

  • Nature and severity of the crime
  • How long since conviction and release
  • Age when offending
  • If a repeat offender
  • Rehabilitation efforts
  • Restitution efforts
  • Work history

All these factors will often go into making the final decision. Thus the need to make as positive an impression as possible.

Tips for Securing Internships

do the internship run background checks

Keep up with notices and job fairs. Companies will often announce their intention to recruit interns. There is likely to be a vetting process so you need to be ready.

As mentioned, they often undertake assessment tests. Do some research to find out what types of tests the company does and go online to practice.

Sign up with relevant business clubs and associations. These are another link to many of these employers who may even sponsor their events.

You can also opt to simply make a general application. Draft a good resume and cover letter. Aim to impress not just in presentation, but also content.

If you have a careers counselor on campus, make an appointment to see them. They can offer helpful advice and may be able to act as references. They may also directly recommend you to the hiring manager or recruiters they know.

Consider any skills you can train in that will make you a better candidate. Consider taking up a language course, first aid training, and more.


Internships are a great way to gain valuable work experience. You get to learn more about the industry you want to join and learn transferable skills.

But they can be hard to secure if you have a criminal past. But not impossible.

Companies see interns as young potential. Make an effort to cultivate the image of a desirable candidate.

Chances are if you are in college, you were a young offender. People can be more forgiving, especially if it was just one offense.

However, even if older there may be other remedies. Where possible, check if you can have your record expunged. Or the offense reduced to a misdemeanor.

This can be a big help in reopening opportunities in both work and housing. Talk to loved ones to figure out your options. And most importantly, do not give up on making this fresh start count.

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