Is it a CPT or is it a job?

There are many employment opportunities available in the Shoals area. However, many are not suitable to CPT, even if it is directly related to your major. This can be difficult to understand. Below are some questions to help evaluate the opportunity.

Is it approved for a credit-bearing class in your major?

Yes? Great! If your academic department accepts the internship for university credit hours, then it qualifies for CPT.

No? Consider these questions. 


Does the title say “internship” or something similar?

This can indicate how the business/organization is thinking of the position.


Does it have an end date?

A CPT is a training opportunity, not a job. If an employer is choosing someone for long-term work, then they want an employee, regardless of the job title. 


Will you be trained and supervised?

A CPT is a training opportunity, not a job. The purpose of the position should have its first priority as helping you to grow. If the job description is asking you to work independently on tasks that you already know how to do or can easily reason out on your own, you are not being trained. You are working. The business/organization is hiring an employee to fulfill a labor need in their operations. 

In addition, because CPT is a training opportunity, having a CPT intern may make more work for the paid employees of the business/organization because someone should be training and supervising you. 


Does the job description require a specific degree or education level?

A CPT must be directly related to the curriculum you studied in your major. If the job description specifically asks for applicants with education in your major, that is a good indicator that the content of the work will use knowledge and/or skills from your curriculum. However, if the job description requires only a high school diploma, the position is probably too general to be a worthwhile training opportunity, especially if you are pursuing a Master’s degree. 


Will you be paid?

CPT can be paid or unpaid. However if there is a significant amount of money associated with the position, this can indicate how the business/organization is thinking of the position. Employees are offered a salary and sometimes benefits because they are a part of the business/organization’s long-term operation. It is not standard in the USA to pay a temporary intern a lot of money or to work on commission. 


How will you be paid?

If the intern is paid, it should be in US dollars and by check. Reputable businesses, even small ones, follow accounting, record-keeping and reporting procedures that are compliant with the US government’s requirements.

Consider these questions and bring them to your DSO to discuss. The Office of International Affairs will, in limited circumstances, authorize CPT with the cooperation of the employer, the Career Center and the academic department. We do not promise approval.