If you’re doing an internship in France, by law you are required to write and sign a document known as a “convention de stage.” A convention de stage is basically a work contract for an internship position, outlining the details of your employment and how it fits into your course of study.
While sample conventions de stage can be found online, it’s important to know what elements are required before presenting one to your potential employer. And before you go ahead and write your own, be sure to check with both the company and your university to see if they have a standard version that they use.
Here’s what every convention de stage needs to cover:
1) Identify the Parties to the Internship Contract
The typical convention de stage is an agreement between three parties: you, the company, and the university where you are completing your degree. Note that the last one is especially important because you are required to be an enrolled student in order to complete an internship in France.
The first section of the convention de stage will be very brief, and name all three parties:
- You, the student
- The director of the company or human resources employee, and the company itself
- Your advisor and your university
2) Outline the Internship’s Learning and Professional Objectives
Internships in France must have a clearly defined educational objective, and link to the student’s course of study. The second section of the convention de stage should identify the skill that the intern will learn during the internship and discuss how the internship fits into the student’s education and professional development.
This section should also provide a list of the intern’s main duties and projects, showing that the internship will consist of more than mere photocopying and require use of the intern’s unique skillset.
3) Hash Out the Nitty-Gritty
Section 3 should include all relevant details about the logistics of your internship, including the following information:
The days of the week you’ll work and what your work schedule (hours) will be.
- If you’ll have to work weekends, nights, or holidays
- The length of the internship, including start and end dates
- If there’s a possibility of renewing or extending the internship upon completion, if all parties agree
- The name of your boss in the internship (responsable)
- The name of your advisor in your university who will be responsible for overseeing the internship and reviewing your rapport de stage
- The payment you’ll receive and any benefits in kind available to you. Note that internships over 2 months must always be paid.
- Your insurance and responsabilité civile
- The clauses of the “reglèment intérieur” that you’ll have to follow while working at the company. Even though you’re not a salaried employee, you can still be required to follow company and industry rules for dress code, safety, training, confidentiality, etc.
- What types of absences will be permitted, and how you should notify your employer about them, and if you will have any mandatory absences for school events (courses and conferences) or administration (think OFII, préfecture)
- How the contract can be broken. Make sure there is a clause for each party being able to end the agreement. While many conventions de stage will allow the school or the employer to end the contract prematurely, you want to make sure that you also have recourse to end it if you feel you’re not learning anything or you don’t fit into the company culture.
Note that after signing the contract, these cannot be modified without the written agreement of all three signatories.
4) Specify How You’ll Be Evaluated
Your internship will certainly be graded if it’s part of an educational program, so you’ll need to discuss the criteria for grading with your advisor in your program.
There are two commonly required evaluations to be completed:
The Internship Evaluation
The Internship Evaluation (or évaluation de stage) is a document that asks you to summarise your experiences within the company and give feedback to your university. This document is primarily for the university (and your advisor) to see how you felt about the company, whether you thought you learned anything, and whether you felt you worked on valuable projects that increased your skills. After all, learning is the point of the internship.
This document will likely be kept at the school and NOT transmitted to the company, although you should ask your advisor if any criticism will remain confidential.
The Rapport de Stage
The Rapport de Stage is a written document of 15-50 pages detailing your internship, the projects you worked on, and showing your understanding of the company you worked for. It is typically submitted both to your advisor at the school AND your responsable de stage in the company, so you will want to be diplomatic.
Check out the guide to writing a rapport de stage here.
And that’s it!
Once you’ve determined all of the elements in these 4 sections, you should get the convention de stage in 3 originals. Your university and the company’s human resources department will sign and stamp the documents, and you will sign as well.
Then, you can start working!