What is an internship?
An intentional supervised learning experience in which the ultimate goals is to increase a student’s knowledge and sharpen skills within a work or services environment. Internships vary in length from a few weeks to up to a year. Internships can be a very structured learning experience or they can be designed to meet the expectations of the student. They can be found in government, industry, professional, corporate and non-profit settings. Internships can be done locally, out-of-state, and even internationally. They can be part-time or full-time, paid or unpaid, and some can be taken for academic credit. Internships can be done during the academic year or during the summer break. The one thing all good internship opportunities have in common is they provide students with career-related work experience.
Why should I do an internship?
Students choose to participate in internships for a variety of reasons. An internship is a good way to check out your interest in a possible career field. Not only will you have the opportunity to build your knowledge base and test your skills by doing your internship, but you will have the opportunity to be exposed to the work of others within the organization and find out about additional job possibilities.
Internships help you by identifying your interests, strengths, and areas you need to improve upon. The value of an internship often extends beyond career exploration; a good experience can have a significant impact on your personal growth by developing your intellectual, interpersonal, and leadership qualities. It can also enhance your awareness and appreciation of ethical dilemmas, the importance of diversity, and civic and social responsibility.
Internships provide the experience and skills necessary to prepare students for today’s job market. Employers’ number two criteria when interviewing potential candidates for employment is related work experience. Internship experiences allow students to demonstrate how and where they have developed their transferable skills. Often internships can lead to full time positions with an organization.
Don’t forget about the valuable contacts you’re making. Networking is an essential part of the job search process and who better to ask for a reference or contact than someone who knows your work style and habits? Getting to know people working in the career field your interested in is easier when your working side-by-side with them. In today’s job market, who you know can be just as crucial as what you know and even more critical to specific “hard to break into” industries. Internships can be your ticket through the door.
When should I do an internship?
Internships are available year-round. Summer is when students have the most free time available to take advantage of full time internship opportunities; however, it also makes those opportunities the most competitive ones. Part-time opportunities are primarily done during the academic year, or in conjunction with part-time summer employment. Internships can be done at any point in a student’s academic career. While some are available only to upper-class students this should not deter freshman and sophomores from seeking out these valuable experiential, education opportunities.
Where do I start?
The Handshake database to search internships. The Career Center Resource Library has useful directories such as: Peterson’s Internships, National Directory of Arts Internships and The Music & Entertainment Industry Internship Guide.
Students should talk to their faculty advisors about internship intentions and possible contacts in their field.