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Cornell University

Experiential Learning Agreements

The dedicated individuals who make up the faculty and staff of Cornell University are often involved in an important process – helping Cornell students and alumni choose, prepare for, and attain internships and other experiential learning opportunities leading to personally rewarding positions and careers.  As a faculty or staff member, you can support the career aspirations of your students and graduates and complement the work of Cornell’s career services offices.

Helping students in their job and internship searches can sometimes raise unanticipated practical, operational and legal issues. This primer is intended to provide guidance for situations where experiential learning providers seek the signature of a Cornell faculty or staff member on an agreement associated with an internship or student job. 

Guidance
Faculty, staff, students and experiential learning providers are encouraged to consider the following when the host entity is requesting that Cornell serve as a contracting entity or signatory to a student placement, internship, or other experiential learning agreement:

Faculty and Staff

  • Cornell is not a guarantor of student conduct while students participate in experiential settings. 
  • Many experiential learning opportunities benefitting students introduce a written agreement setting forth terms and conditions for the student’s placement. Absent circumstances necessitating that Cornell become a party to a student placement agreement (ex. Degree required placements arranged by Cornell under an Affiliation Agreement) the placement agreement should generally be restricted to the student and the host entity. Some colleges and units will become a party to a student placement agreement absent such circumstances, but are not required to do so.
  • Note that documents relating to a student’s experiential learning placement or employment are legally binding agreements regardless of how they are titled, and if you sign such an agreement in your capacity as a Cornell employee, you implicate obligations on the part of Cornell to a contractual relationship that should likely remain solely between the host and the student. 
  • It is also likely you will be signing a contract absent necessary delegated contract signature authority to do so.
  • Be aware that students may feel pressure, self-imposed or from their host/experiential learning provider, to obtain a faculty or staff signature in order to secure a job or internship.  While there may be a temptation to assist these students, please comply with the guidance set forth in this document.  Signing a document absent proper review and/or signature authority, or pressuring others to sign may complicate or delay the process for the student.
  • Instead, referral should be made to a career services office at Cornell, as each office is prepared to assist students with employment and internship related documents, including legal agreements. Reference the chart in the Student section for contact information.

 Students

  •  Be aware that Cornell is not obligated to sign student placement agreements and may decline to do so. 
  • Be aware that review, negotiation and revision of prospective agreements can take time – you should allow a minimum of 3-4 weeks in advance of a placement date for the contract process to conclude. Agreements submitted to College career offices in close proximity to the commencement of a job or internship may not be finalized within a time frame desired by the experiential learning provider or student.
  • Obtain, from the host/experiential learning provider, a written copy of their proposed agreement as soon as possible.
  • Share the information in the “Experiential learning provider” section with your experiential learning provider to keep them apprised of Cornell’s policies and timeline.  If you need assistance, please communicate with the designated staff member with whom you are working.
  • Submit a Certificate of Student Standing/Academic Status (“Certificate”) to the prospective experiential learning provider as many experiential learning providers may accept this document in lieu of a signed employment agreement. A copy of the Certificate can be obtained from the Cornell University Registrar.
  • If the experiential learning provider does not accept the Certificate in lieu of an internship or experiential placement agreement, consult your career services office for guidance. 
  • If your career services office does review and sign approved placement agreements (not all Colleges will review or sign agreements absent an existing affiliation agreement), please do the following:
    • Schedule a meeting with the appropriate career services office.
    • Provide the prospective agreement, and any available supporting documentation (i.e., placement description and the organization’s contact information), to the advisor with whom you are scheduled to meet, in advance of your appointment.
    • Understand that your career services advisor may confer with Cornell Office of General Counsel and/or other individuals prior to deciding how to proceed with the prospective placement agreement. This process may take several weeks.
    • Stay in contact with the career services advisor throughout the process. If you need assistance communicating with your experiential learning provider, please contact the designated staff member with whom you are working.
Undergraduate College/School
Career Services Office
Designated Staff Member Contact
Agriculture & Life Sciences No
Architecture, Art, and Planning Yes Melinda Stelick
stelick@cornell.edu
Arts & Sciences Yes Jen Maclaughlin
jlm543@cornell.edu

Diane Miller
djm15@cornell.edu
Engineering No
Human Ecology Yes Deanne Maxwell
dhm8@cornell.edu
Industrial and Labor Relations Yes Marcia Harding-Zeller
mlh15@cornell.edu
SCJ College of Business - Dyson No
SCJ College of Business - Hotel Yes Pam Davis-Acey
pd43@cornell.edu
Graduate/Professional Schools Refer to your Career Office
Cornell Career Services Yes Greg Foster
gjf48@cornell.edu

 Experiential Learning Providers

  • Cornell appreciates the important role experiential learning, including internships, play in the lives of our students and the success of your organization.
  • While Cornell is committed to working with experiential learning providers to advance the interests of our students, in many instances, Cornell is not an appropriate party to a student placement agreement. Cornell is generally not obligated to sign placement agreements involving students, and may decline to do so. 
  • We encourage you to accept a Certificate of Student Standing/Academic Status (“Certificate”). A student's enrollment status at Cornell University can be verified with this Certificate. In most situations, this Certificate should meet the requirements of the experiential learning provider.
  • In those instances where Cornell is willing to become a signatory to an internship or experiential learning agreement involving a student, career services offices, in collaboration with Cornell Office of General Counsel, and others, will strive to find mutually agreeable language that allows students to pursue opportunities with your organization.
  • Your primary point of contact throughout this process will be the student with whom you are arranging the internship or experiential learning opportunity.
  • The process of reviewing and signing documents may be lengthy.  While we will try to work within the timeline you have communicated to the student, it may not always be possible. Documents must be routed, reviewed, negotiated, terms agreed upon and then routed to an individual with signature authority, this process may take several weeks to complete.