Internships provide you with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in your field of study. Internships may also be called field experiences, student teaching, clinicals, and preceptorships.
Internships have an educational element. Look for an opportunity that gives you the chance to put your classroom learning into practice. Look for internships that offer substance in the work you will be asked to do. An internship is more than filing, typing and answering phones.
Internships may or may not be paid. Paid internships may be a flat sum or hourly wage. Some majors require that you not be paid during the internship. There are many wonderful non-paid internships and thus you limit your opportunities by only looking at paid internships.
Internships may be for credit or not for credit. Either way, the experience you are gaining will be valuable. For-credit internships will be noted on your academic transcript and also provide more structure and evaluation for you.
Your professor or career advisor does not get the internship for you. They are there to offer advice and contact names. Securing an internship is up to you.
What are the benefits?
According to a recent survey of 259 service, manufacturing and nonprofit employers, 58.6% of those employer's new hires had some type of internship experience. Additionally, 24% of those employers hired the students who interned with them.
Aside from the increased potential for hire, internships provide you with an opportunity to explore a certain type of work or environment that you think you are interested in. At the same time, you gain invaluable oral communication, interpersonal, and teamwork skills - the top three skills employers value and look for in new hires. Additionally, you are exposed to employers who will get to know you and the type of work you can do. This exposure opens up many networks, which can be the most effective job search tool.Finally, you are able to apply classroom theory to practical situations and demonstrate to the potential employer a strong interest and skill level in a chosen field.
How do I get academic credit?
To receive academic credit for your internship, you must register for the internship course as you would any other course in the Catalog. To register for the internship course, you must first contact a faculty member within your department. Some majors require application to the internship. Approach a faculty member in your department at least one semester prior to your desired internship semester to ask if he/she will supervise and sponsor your internship. Visit with the faculty member to be sure you understand the requirements for the internship. Credit varies from department to department. A brief description of credit hours granted and admission requirements to the internship are available in the Catalog. Complete descriptions are available from your faculty sponsor in each individual department.
What do I need to do after I register for the internship course?
After you register for the internship course, YOU need to secure your internship location. If you have an internship location in mind, get a description of the duties you will be performing. Show that to your faculty supervisor for approval. If you do not have a location in mind, visit the Career Development Office. We can be of assistance in a number of ways.
- First, the office receives and posts all internship opportunities.
- Second, the director can be of assistance in developing your resume and cover letter. Third, we can help you improve your interviewing skills. All of these are important in securing a valuable internship experience.
- Also, check with your faculty advisor. He/she may have location suggestions for you as well.
What are my roles and responsibilities as an intern?
You are responsible for the creation and implementation of the internship.
- Define objectives.
- Locate and secure the internship opportunity.
- Keep your faculty sponsor current on any problems or concerns.
- Work closely with your employer sponsor to ensure that you understand the expectations and policies of the company.
- Show up on time to the work site.
- Complete the necessary number of hours per week required for credit.
- Contribute to the employer as a member of their employment team.
- Understand that neither you nor the employer are under no obligation to accept or offer permanent employment at the completion of the internship.
How am I evalutated at my internship?
Both your faculty advisor and your employer sponsor evaluate you. Check with your faculty advisor for more details.
When should I start looking?
It is never too early to start thinking about an internship.
Start to identify and explore possible areas of interest with the assistance of the Career Development Office.
Begin talking with people about your interest in an internship. This is commonly called networking and is the most effective way of finding any type of employment opportunity. Also begin working on your resume and cover letter.
NOTE: Many employers look for interns at least one semester preceding the semester they'd like you on board. If you wait until January, for example, to find an internship for spring, you will likely run into difficulties. Many employers will already have their interns in place.
How do I decide where to look for an internship?
Clarify Your Objectives
Nothing indicates preparedness to an employer like a person who is able to succinctly state his/her goals and objectives. Think about what you want to get out of the internship experience. Specifically ask yourself:
- Why do I want to do an internship?
- What kinds of tasks do I want to be doing?
- What skills do I want to use? What skills do I want to learn or improve?
- What do I hope to accomplish by the end of the internship?
An "organization" may be a business, non-profit group, government agency, citizens' coalition, public service organization, educational institution, or any other community working toward a common goal. To identify organizations, you will need to do some research. You may want to limit your research by focusing on a specific location or type of organization. Read directories, yellow pages, and contact the Chamber of Commerce in the area for sources. We have a number of such resources available for your use in the library or the Career Development Office.
How do I apply for an internship?
- Identify the Person to Contact
You will get much better results if you direct your inquiries to the person in charge of hiring. If that person's name is not available in the directories, do additional research to try to uncover it. Your networking contacts may know or a simple call to the organization's switchboard can get you the information.
Send a letter and resume to the organizations you have identified. In your letter, be sure to address: What you mean by an internship; What skills you have to offer; and the advantages of hiring you. Again, help is available from the Career Development Office. We have a "guide for employers" brochure you may want to give the prospective employer.
- Follow Up
Following up your letter with a phone call is one of the most important steps - and the one most often overlooked. Call the employer approximately two weeks after you send your resume and ask for a face-to-face appointment. If the employer is not able to take an intern, ask him/her for the names of other organizations in the area that might have openings.
How do I get the most out of my internship experience?
In order to get the most out of your internship experience; be sure to consider the following:
- Write down your goals for the internship. You will be required to develop goals for your internship. Take this assignment seriously. It is the best way for you to communicate to your faculty advisor and employer what you hope to learn during your internship.
- Communicate concerns to your faculty advisor or site supervisor. If you have a concern about the work that you are doing, talk to someone. Choose whomever you feel most comfortable with - faculty or employer. If you do not feel comfortable approaching either one, contact Career Development. The most important thing is that you tell someone about your concern so that actions can be taken to improve your internship experience.
- Ask questions. This is your time to learn. Never be afraid to ask questions.
- Keep your faculty advisor informed. You will likely be required to meet with your faculty advisor on a regular basis. If you are not required to do so, do so anyway. He/she can help you process what you are learning and seeing.
- Keep a log or journal of your experiences. The skills you gain will be invaluable when you start job searching. Keep a journal of experiences and skills you’ve learned. This will be helpful when you interview for future jobs.
- Get samples of any work you have completed. Whenever possible, keep a sample of the work you do. These will be great for your portfolio and for reminding you of what you have accomplished.