An internship is a supervised work experience where you can learn, apply your skills and test your knowledge in a professional setting.
The details of an internship vary by employer. Check with your supervisor and visit with your academic adviser to see if your internship offers:
- Course credit
- Wages or compensation
- Flexible hours
Internship vs. Co-Op
Internships typically run for one semester, and are frequently open to students of all class standings.
Co-ops represent a more significant time commitment, running two or more semesters. Employers place a precedent on students with major standing.
No Internship? No Problem!
While internships are the best way to gain work experience, there are other options to get started in the professional world.
Non-profit organizations have limited resources and welcome new volunteers. These organizations touch on a number of fields including fundraising, marketing, event planning, project management and more.
Find a professional in your field and follow them throughout a typical business day. This gives you a behind-the-scenes look at what a professional day in your major might look like.
Find research opportunities on campus. Ask faculty members about their research activities and volunteer to assist. Apply for grants to support your experience.
A great internship can be the stepping-stone to an exciting and fulfilling career. Make the most of your time with a few key tips.
- Be professional. Dress appropriately, be on time, and meet your deadlines.
- Learn everything you can. Read your company’s policy guidebook, meet the staff and get a tour of the office. Take the initiative to ask questions and investigate other departments to learn about all aspects of the business.
- Contribute. Interns can offer employers a fresh perspective. Share your ideas, contribute your knowledge and take on new responsibilities. Take notes and keep organized.
- Track your work. Seek out projects and training opportunities that enable you to learn and use a variety of skills. The tasks you accomplish can be included in your portfolio or resume.
- Network. Build relationships with your supervisor and co-workers. Start a file of business contacts to use as a reference later on.
- Get feedback. Set up periodic evaluative meetings with your supervisor to address questions about projects or assignments. This is an opportunity to learn, improve your performance and share your progress.