Internships: The Why, Where, When, and How

An internship is generally a semester-long, supervised work experience related to a student's major or career goal for which the student may earn academic credit. They can be completed sooner, but typically students fill their internship requirement junior and senior year.

What sets an internship apart from a part-time job or volunteer experience is that the internship incorporates specific learning objectives, reflection, usually in the form of journaling, and emphasis on professional development.

Important Things to Consider

When considering an internship there are many different options, so it is important to review what type of internship your program accepts for academic credit and how the internship program is set up at the organization. Here are some things to consider.

  • Geographic location of the internship (Where is it located?)
  • Pay (Is it a paid or unpaid internship?)
  • Academic credit (Is it for academic credit or not?)
  • Time commitment (How much time will be involved, academically and/or at the workplace?)
  • Semester (Fall, spring, or summer)
  • Industry (In what company, field, or area do you want to do an internship?)
  • Purpose (What do you want to gain from the internship—a specific skill set, certain project, or experience in a certain field?)

Benefits of an Internship

When you do an Internship, you will have to opportunity to:

  • Gain valuable work experience prior to graduating
  • Enhance your academic curriculum
  • Narrow your career choices by trying out different options
  • Develop transferable skills
  • Expand your individual contact network
  • Create future references or letters of recommendation

Preparing for an Internship Interview

Prepare for an internship interview just like you would a job interview. 

  • Develop a strong resume and have it critiqued by Career Services
  • Conduct a mock interview, read up on current interview practices, review potential interview questions
  • Begin searching for companies and industries of interest

Where to Search for Internship

  • Look at specialized internship websites
  • Print resources such as "Top Internships" and "The Internship Bible" 
  • Individual company websites
  • Make use of your personal network, no matter how small it may seem.
  • It is almost impossible to know where or how an opportunity will arise. Always keep your eyes open.
  • Meet with the career services director and search through an internship database with information on employers who previously listed internships.