Internship FAQ and Myths
Internships are work-related learning experiences that provide students, new graduates, and career changers with an opportunity to gain important knowledge and skills in a career related field. As a career builder, internships are a chance to gain exposure to career fields of interest without making a permanent commitment. There are many resources available for finding an internship, including internship online databases, books such as the Internship Bible, classified ads, networking with professionals and alumni from your college, etc.
Many organizations use internships as a way to assess and train potential candidates for jobs. Internships are an excellent way to gain experience in a career field of interest as well as an opportunity to try out one or more careers by getting a behind the scenes look at what it’s actually like working in the field. Students will often do several internships to give them exposure to a variety of related jobs or even to check out various careers of interest.
When to Begin Looking for Internships
The answer to this question is as soon as possible. It’s important to allow enough time to locate and apply for good internships. For internships in finance, government, publishing, etc., many of the deadlines to apply for summer internships can be as early as November. Internships are becoming more popular for students still in high school as well. Students who begin doing internships after their first year of college are able to complete several different internships which ultimately provides them with a wide range of experiences and makes them more appealing to employers.
Where to Find Internships
Working with a career counselor, speaking with faculty and/or college alumni, reviewing career resources, checking out the classified ads to prospect for potential employers, and conducting Informational Interviews with alumni or professionals in the field are all excellent places to start finding what internships are available.
There are many internships offered online through internship sites such as MonsterTRAK, Internships USA, Internships.com, etc. Check with your Career Center to see if they subscribe to any of these resources. Completing a thorough self-assessment will also help to identify key knowledge, skills, interests, and personality traits that are relevant to a particular internship or job.
The Types of Internships are Available
Internships are available in a wide variety of fields from both the private and not-for-profit sectors of the job market. Internships may be paid or unpaid, for credit or not-for-credit, and may be pursued spring, summer, or fall.
The Benefit of Doing an Internship for Credit:
There are many rewarding and worthwhile internships available and some of these can be linked directly with college coursework. Working directly with an on-site supervisor and a faculty sponsor can provide a rich learning experience that includes additional reading, writing, etc., on the subject in addition to the experiential learning that takes place each day on the internship. It is not necessary to do an internship for credit in order to get a valuable internship experience.
The Difference Between an Internship for Credit and One That's Not
To receive credit for an internship, students will need to complete a certain number of hours at the internship site depending on the internship guidelines of the college. It’s important to check out a college’s guidelines prior to doing an internship for credit. Usually, colleges require additional work be completed and students must meet specific criteria designated by a faculty member who will also act as the internship sponsor.
Internships not completed for credit are basically an agreement between the employer and the student. There is no formal contract in place and there's more room for flexibility. There also is no minimum number of hours to be completed for the internship.
- Internships Not Completed for Credit are Not as Valuable: Although it is true that internships for credit are included on a college transcript, employers are looking for candidates who possess the relevant skills and experience to do the job and who already have exposure to the field and know that they are interested. Resumes usually do not distinguish between internships completed for credit and those which are not.
- Unpaid Internships or Volunteer Experiences Cannot be Included on a Resume: All experiences related to a particular internship or job can be included on a resume. As a student, relevant coursework, co-curricular activities, community services, volunteer experiences, and previous internships and jobs can also be included on a resume. Again, it is the relevant skills and experience that employers are looking for.
- All Internships Completed for Credit Must be Unpaid: College credit is granted by the academic institution and it does not prohibit employers from paying interns a fair wage or stipend. Colleges generally encourage and support employers to pay for work completed regardless if it’s being done for credit or not. Students interested in receiving credit for an internship will often do one or more internships for credit during fall and/or spring semester and then do a not-for-credit internship during summer break.
- There is no Difference Between Doing an Internship During Fall or Spring Semester or Doing an Internship for Summer: Usually colleges require that students pay tuition for summer internships for credit. The amount will depend on the number of credits received and the costs associated with credit at a particular college. Internships completed during fall or spring semester usually are rolled into the regular tuition.
- What is the Difference Between Doing a Summer Internship and Working at a Summer Job: Ultimately internships should include some form of training along with direct supervision of the work involved. The purpose of an internship is to introduce and train for a particular job or gain experience in a particular career field. Summer jobs are done mainly for compensation and usually include more of an entry-level position such as cashiers, lifeguards, ride attendants, camp counselors, or working at a retail store, restaurant or resort.