Internships provide an opportunity to facilitate student learning outside of the classroom, allowing students to apply academic theories to "real world" situations, explore career options and gain a competitive edge in the labor market. Employers benefit from additional labor, fresh ideas and the opportunity to create a pipeline for future employment.
What is an Internship?
- A supervised work experience that is designed to provide structured learning opportunities
- Generally, minimum of one semester; however, can be project based
- May be paid or unpaid
- May offer academic credit upon completion
What is the difference between a job and an internship?
An Internship is:
- Is related to the student's field of study
- Provides on-the-job training & an opportunity to learn additional skills
- Is designed to meet specific learning objectives
- May be required to graduate
- May be supplemented with additional academic assignments
- Has a defined end date
What are the benefits of an Internship?
Internships provide an opportunity to:
- “Test-drive” a career field of interest without committing yourself long-term
- Explore career options related to one's interests, values, skills & personality
- Gain career-related work experience and skills for your resume
- Gather insight into a particular industry or organizational culture
- Establish connections & build a network of contacts
- Integrate what you’ve learned in the classroom into the “real world” professional environment
- Introduce you to workplace situations not typically found in classroom experiences
Steps to Obtaining an Internship:
- Consider the skills you may want to develop
- What skills do you lack? Or require improvement?
- What environment will provide you with the opportunity to develop these skills?
- What fields do you want to explore?
- Develop a specific goal
- Schedule an appointment with a Career Counselor to update your resume
- Check out our Resource Guide for resume samples
- Obtain recommendation letters & prepare your references
- Research industries and companies of interest
- Begin your search 3-6 months prior
- Tell everyone you know (including faculty) that you are looking for an internship
- Attend Career Fairs
- Join professional organizations
- Attend professional mixers & meetings
- Utilize our online internship search engines
- Utilize your social network and resources
- Once you know all your options and you have narrowed down the opportunities that interest you, you need to begin the application process!
The U.S. Department of Labor established the following 6 criteria in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to determine if an internship or training program can be excluded from the minimum wage requirement.
- The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
- The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
- The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
- The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
- The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship;
- The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
(Note: The FLSA makes a special exemption for individuals who volunteer for a state or local government agency and for individuals who volunteer for humanitarian, religious, charitable, civic purposes to non-profit organizations.)
If you have any questions regarding unpaid internships, please contact the Career and Workforce Development Center at 323-415-4126.