What is an internship?
"I did an internship at a prestigious company where I got great experience and made incredible contacts in the field."
— Student, School of Arts & Sciences
An internship is a paid or non-paid, temporary position designed to give you experience in a certain type of job, industry or the world of work in general. In some cases internships can be done for academic credit and in fact, most majors either require or encourage that students do at least one.
Internships can last for a semester or less, a full academic year, a summer, or several months to a year after graduation. Some organizations have formally established internship programs, while others take on interns for special projects on an as needed basis. Others might not have considered having an intern until approached by a student.
An internship is an excellent way to explore career options. Ask in the Career Development Office for information on the internship program.
What is an externship?
"The time I spent in the hospital’s externship program was incredible. It cemented my commitment to pediatric nursing."
— Student, School of Nursing
An externship or shadowing experience is typically more structured and tied to an academic program. You may spend time observing a professional on the job or participate in a training or workshop program. Externships provide a perspective on the daily activities or a particular profession.
How else can I get experience?
"My volunteer work demonstrated my commitment to women's issues and the experience I got working at my part time job helped me land my new full time position."
— Student, School of New Resources
: Volunteering is unpaid work and is usually less structured than an internship or externship. Nevertheless it is another great way to expose you to specific jobs, organizations and the world of work in general. And it looks great on your resume.
: Paid positions are a good solution for those who have financial constraints that may make internships unrealistic. Your duties on a part time job tend to be narrower than those on internships where you may be more likely to work in different areas or an organization or on a variety of projects. They do however give your "real world" experience and can help you make better decisions about the type of work or work setting that is right for you.
When should I do an internship?
Freshman year is not too early, though we don't recommend that you do an internship during your first semester at college. You'll be pretty busy adjusting to college life and spending more time on your academics than you've been used to. But the summer of your freshman year might be the perfect time to get your first experience.
Senior year is not too late! Some graduating seniors seeking to gain experience in a competitive career field will even do an internship during the summer following graduation.
Fall, spring or summer? Some companies only offer internships during the summer when they might require 20-40 hours of your time each week. But many internships are available during the fall or spring semesters when they typically take 8-12 hours of your time weekly.
What if I can’t afford to give up my paid summer job to do an internship?
This is a reality that many students face these days – they have to work for pay during the summer and during the academic year to cover their share of college expenses. Despite financial obligations, you should try to do at least one internship before you graduate. Here are a few strategies:
How do I get started?
Do an internship during the semester. Most term-time internships require only 8 to 12 hours per week and most employers are flexible about the days and hours that you work.
Do your internship during senior year when you may have a lighter course load.
Combine a part-time paid summer job with a part-time internship, paid or unpaid.
Whether you are pursuing an internship, externship or other experience, the steps are pretty much the same. Use this check list to get started and keep you moving toward getting great experience!
Get started early! For spring internships, apply in mid to late fall; for summer internships apply in late winter/early spring; for fall internships apply in late spring. The most competitive internships often have early deadlines for applications.
Meet with your CNR academic advisor to determine if an internship or externship is right for you now and to discuss the types that make sense.
Visit the CNR Career Development Office to create your plan of attack.
Make a list of criteria that describe the type of internship or experience that is best for you.
Research companies and advertised internships. Your academic advisor, the career development office and the internet are great resources.
Develop a target list of contacts, companies and opportunities that fit your criteria.
Create a great resume that showcases your accomplishments, achievements and skills.
Write compelling cover letters that make you stand out from the crowd.
Apply for several internships that fit your criteria.
- Prepare for the interview; write your "30-second commercial" and flesh out success stories that bring your skills and accomplishments to life. Practice interviewing.
Register. If your internship is for credit, you will need to register and pay for it just like any other course.
- Complete a learning contract; once you have secured an internship you will need to complete a learning contact and submit it to the Office of the Dean. You can get these from your academic advisor or the Dean’s Office.
The Career Development Office conducts workshops in creating resumes, writing cover letters, and mock interviews. Stop by, call, or email for an appointment!
CNR Career Development Office
Sweeny Student Center, Second Floor