An internship is an off-campus activity that provides real-world exposure to professional development in a business, non-profit or government setting. This opportunity allows you to use and refine the skillsets that you are developing in the classroom while gaining entry-level exposure to a particular industry or field. You also engage firsthand with employers eager to contribute to your career development.
Internships have a significant positive influence on becoming career ready and securing a job upon graduation. Here are few reasons why students and employers engage in internships.
- Explore potential careers
- Practice professional skillsets
- Create relationships with mentors
- Increase satisfaction in your major
- Improve employment outcomes
- Get to know your abilities
- Help you develop your talents
- Build a mentor relationship with you
- Help you explore careers
- Ensure you are career ready
College students start their internships at different points of their academic plan. Some start when they’ve been in an academic program for a few years and others start early in the academic program.
First or Second-Year Students
Employers may offer internships for students in their first or second years of study. These opportunities allow you to learn how to complete professional tasks and special projects. They do not require the specialized knowledge or skills gained in the later years of your degree program.
Third or Fourth-Year and Graduate Students
Employers may prefer students in their advanced years of study. These opportunities allow you to learn complex duties on the job or specialize in the field. They require the advanced knowledge and skills developed in your academic subject.
Types of Internships
Internships are available across different industry groups in business, non-profit or governmental settings. They typically vary depending upon the duration and expectations. Here are a few common internship types.
Internships at businesses often pay an hourly wage. Interns are typically considered employees whose work benefits the company. Interns work an average of 20 to 35 hours per week over a 10 to 12 week period. Paid internship opportunities are usually offered in the summer and can also be offered during the fall and spring semesters.
Internships can be unpaid or offer a fixed amount paid at the end of the experience. Unpaid interns are not considered employees and are typically in non-profit and government settings. Interns do an average of 20 to 35 hours per week over a 10 to 12 week period. Paid internship opportunities are usually offered in the summer and can also be offered during the fall and spring semesters.
Academic-credit and CPT Internships
Micro-internships are short-term, paid, professional projects that are similar to those given to interns or new employees at companies or emerging start-ups. Students apply for projects that companies post across their departments including technology, marketing and finance to name a few. Projects can include research and strategy, operations and support, IT and cyber, marketing and others.
Unlike traditional internships, micro-internships can be done year-round. Projects typically take 5 to 40 hours to complete and are due between one week and one month after you are offered the project.
Externships & Job Shadowing
Externships provide an opportunity to observe a workplace, sit in on meetings and have career conversations with employees.
Short-term externships can be one day or up to a few weeks and are usually unpaid. They are similar to a job-shadowing experience where you follow an employee to observe their day-to-day work.
Graduate externships are offered to graduate students by the academic program such as law school or medical school. These opportunities are usually longer-term and require enrollment in a course.
Schedule an appointment with career advisors to find an externship or job shadowing opportunity.
Fellowships are typically merit-based scholarships for advanced research of an academic subject. They are funded by universities and colleges, corporations, non-profits, foundations, media groups and governmental entities.
Fellows are selected based on their potential to make a positive and long-lasting contribution to the academic field. Fellowships are demanding and require a significant commitment from students.
Fellowships can last at least a year and some can be renewed depending upon the rules of the granting institution.
To obtain an internship, you will most likely need to apply for the opportunity. Internships are posted year-round and employers typically post internship opportunities an average of six months before the internship begins. This means that if you are seeking a summer internship, you should typically plan to apply at the end of the fall semester.
Internship Search on Handshake
Internship Search Tracker
The Career Center provides an online internship search tracking software called Huntr. This tool helps you organize your search by tracking every detail about your opportunities regardless of where you found them. Track contacts, notes, dates, tasks, documents, internship descriptions, salaries, locations, company data and more. Add jobs across the internet using the Chrome browser and the Huntr Chrome Extension. For help getting started watch this video on Introducing Huntr Job Search Tracker and review the Huntr Job Seeker Guide.
Experiential learning coordinators are available by individual appointment. We can answer your questions about searching for an internship and help you connect with opportunities.
Part of choosing an internship includes knowing about workplace culture and available opportunities for your degree. Employers host events where you can meet company representatives and learn more about what's possible.