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What is an internship?

An internship is an on-site work experience that is either directly related to your major field of study or your career interest.  It can be paid or unpaid, and held during the summer or throughout the academic year.

What are the benefits of an internship?

An internship gives you the opportunity to:

  • Gain valuable work experience before you graduate;
  • Develop new skills and refine others;
  • Apply knowledge gained from coursework to on-the-job situations;
  • Reality-test tentative career choices;
  • Meet and work with professionals, establishing contacts for letters of reference and networking;
  • Experience new work environments;
  • Earn money for tuition and expenses.
How do I find an internship?

The most effective internship searches utilize a variety of different search strategies. A great place to start is the Career Center website - many Internship listings are available online via Handshake. You can search your interests by keyword(s). (You may also want to use the word "intern" or "internship" in your search.) You will find information about additional internship opportunities elsewhere on this website.

Also, take advantage of all your networking opportunities. In addition to making contacts through friends, family, current/former employers, classmates, and faculty members, there are many other networking avenues you can pursue.  You may also learn about internship openings through newspapers, newsletters, job fairs, work/study abroad programs, hometown contacts, professional associations, student organizations, trade magazines, community service/volunteer groups, and your major department office.

Some online resources include: Indeed, LinkedIn and Company websites. 

While there is a great deal of information available, you must be persistent in your internship search. Start early and seek out help from a career counselor. Have a plan that includes a great resume and cover letter, appropriate follow-up, and good record keeping. Be prepared, open-minded, flexible, and professional. It's up to you to make all your contacts count!

Can I get academic credit for my internship?

It is possible to get academic credit for your internship, through certain courses offered by various academic departments. Only academic departments can offer credit, and policies differ greatly from one department to the next. Often your internship must relate directly to your major and will require you to complete a substantial research project or writing component as part of special studies course.

Keep in mind that some employers require students to receive academic credit as a form of "payment" due to liability issues, but may also be willing to classify you as a volunteer if receiving credit is not an option.

How can I get a job or internship if I have no experience?

Employers value skills developed through academic work, volunteer experiences, extracurricular experiences, or other experiences which demonstrate skills useful in work. Not all these skills are job type specific; some of these skills are general such as communication skills and analytical skills and can transfer to different settings. Most student jobs can demonstrate to employers that you have been a successful employee. Obtaining internships and is another great way to bridge this gap.

If a job does require some very specific experience, you might consider finding a more routine position in a setting like where you would eventually like to hold a job with greater responsibilities.