Whether you call it an internship, experiential learning or volunteerism, it is important for you to get real world experience before you leave college.
Benefits of an Internship
Internships provide an opportunity to:
Explore a potential career field
Develop career related skills and abilities
Expand existing knowledge
Integrate classroom theory with real-life experiences
Experience professional level challenges
Improve your marketability upon graduation
Typically the junior year is a good time to apply for and obtain an internship. You have much of your core course work completed and also have taken specialized classes in your major. Seniors also benefit from additional internship experiences. Occasionally, sophomores undertake internships. All students, however, should first consult with their academic advisors to determine the best time to begin an internship. All students are invited and encouraged to come to the Career Services Office (CSO) or to your major department to discuss long-range planning for internships.
Mutually Beneficial – meet organization’s goals and your own professional and educational goals.
Career related experience
Exposure to new ideas
Develop transferable skills
Primary emphasis is upon meeting organizational goals and making money.
Paid vs. Non-paid
Some internships will be paid and others will not. The organization providing the internship determines whether or not an intern will be paid and further, if it is a stipend or hourly wage. This will vary depending on the employer and the industry. An internship may be unpaid because the employer may not have the financial resources to pay the intern or because the internship opportunity is in such high student demand.
There are many valuable opportunities that provide experience which far outweighs financial compensation. By interning, you not only gain professional experience, you also gather insight into a particular industry or organizational culture, and establish connections that might lead to a job when you graduate. The internship experience may also help you determine if the field, industry or position is a good fit for you. It is much more time and cost effective to answer these questions prior to graduation.
Credit vs. Non-credit
As a student, you can do an internship for credit through an academic unit. Receiving academic credit for an internship is not a requirement in most degree programs, so the choice is yours. However, if you are not interested in receiving credit for your internship opportunity, it is important to work with the Career Services Office. CSO can facilitate the experience, serve as campus liaison, and offer student-to-student internship networking and support. If you are interested in receiving credit, you must contact the academic department internship advisor to determine eligibility, verify that the internship you are considering is credit worthy and obtain a faculty sponsor. Those students who will be receiving credit for internships must have a course number assigned to the internship, register and pay the per-credit hour fees for the internship
Full-time vs. Part-time Internships
An internship experience can be any number of hours, depending on the time that you are able to give. It is important to find an opportunity that will fit your schedule and time constraints. An internship can take place any academic semester. Credit bearing internships will have a set number of hours to be worked in order to receive the pre-determined number of credit hours.
Before you decide what type of internship experience you seek, it is important to have a written career goal. This clearly defined career goal will help you determine what type of internship experience will support and help you to achieve this goal. Generally a career goal is based on your skills and interests, career possibilities and job trends.
First, ask yourself these questions:
What type of work do you see yourself doing?
How do you want to spend your average work day one year from now? Five years from now?
What size company is preferable?
Do you want to work alone or with a group?
Are you interested in working for profit or non-profit businesses or companies?
What are the trends in industries as they relate to your career goals?
When you have the answers to these questions, you will have a written career goal that will state exactly what you would like to do once you graduate and enter the workforce.
Sample Career Goal
To work in the field of Information Technology with possible specialization in web development, programming, and network administration.
Finally, based on your career goal, write down what you want to gain from your internship experience and think about how that will help you achieve your goal.
What types of skills would you like to use or gain?
Are you working with cutting edge technology?
Do you want an experience in a non-profit or profit environment?
What size company do you want to pursue?
Do you want to work with people or independently?
Sample Internship Goal
To secure an internship in the Information Technology department of a large company that will allow me to utilize my web development skills as well as enhance my programming language skills.
Use the following to prepare your goals.
My Reflection _________________________
My Career Goal(s) _________________________
My Internship Goal(s) _________________________
First examine the goals you prepared to see if the skills and interests you are seeking can be met in an internship.
Next, consider the importance of matching yourself and each internship opportunity. Examine what skills, attributes, abilities, and limitations you will bring to an internship which will enable you to attain your goals and be attractive and useful to the organization for which you want to work.
Think about what you have to offer. Even if you have had no formal work experience, you have acquired a number of skills:
Research and writing skills from working on research papers
Management skills from summer jobs
Communication skills from classroom presentations and group projects
Time management and organizational skills from studying and maintaining a busy schedule
These are transferable skills (writing, research, and managing) that you could add to your list of personal offerings. Transferable skills are skills you have acquired while doing any activity in your life - jobs, classes, parenting, projects, hobbies, sports. They are applicable to what you want to do in your next job.
Analyze your every day life for skills you may not have realized you possess. Be careful not to discard skills that appear useless. For example, a friendly attitude is useful in an internship that requires a lot of person-to-person contact (interpersonal skills). Sizing up your personal attributes is an important and necessary assignment. Start listing them and these lists will come in handy in everything from writing a résumé and preparing for interviews to evaluating your experience when you’ve finished the internship.
Examples of transferable skills
Critical and analytical thinking
Adept at change
Written and oral communication
Working independently and as a team member
Reliability and trustworthiness
Ability to meet deadlines
Dynamic and outgoing
CSO Posts internship opportunities on IUSBCareers. Students may log into IUSBCareers the same way you log into One.IU or Oncourse. Once you have logged in, you may search job and internship opportunities, register for CSO events, upload a resume and more.
IU South Bend students can also find internship opportunities by:
Utilizing Internship resources available in Career Services
Personal contacts and other networking resources
Other Internet listings
Major department academic areas
The information super highway is an incredible tool to make your search more productive. However, please remember the importance of personal contacts, follow up procedures, and face to face (or telephone) meetings. Several web sites are listed to assist you in locating an internship of interest to you. Please note: the listing here is not all inclusive. Also, the Career Services Office does not guarantee that information on the Internet is accurate. Please check carefully into all opportunities listed via the Internet to verify quality and accuracy of information.
Now that you have discovered a large number and variety of possibilities for an internship, you need to begin reducing your list of good internships to a manageable number for further research. It is better to start with several possibilities so that you have the luxury of picking the internship that is right for you. Sometimes it is easy to know which one this will be but here are some hints if the choice becomes tough.
Go back to your reflection and goal setting page and take a look at how you answered the questions. What are your goals and how do these various internship possibilities relate to them? What are your personal preferences for the work environment and will the internship fit those preferences? Which internship is least likely to help you fulfill your objectives?
Organizations’ requirements also help eliminate internship programs for you. Certain internships may be off limits because of your age, year in school, major field of study, or financial resources.
Gathering Information on Organizations
Research each organization on your list of possibilities to gather the information you need in order to do the paring down. The company or organization web site is the best place to find the information you are looking for. If the particular company does not have a web site, you can contact the organization directly for information or stop by the Career Services Office to see if there is information on file.
Details to consider include the following:
Information on the organization
How they would use you as an intern
Financial and residency requirements
Academic credit options
Make an appointment with a Career Counselor in our office to find out more about organizations and internship opportunities. The counselor can also work with you if a particular organization does not have an official internship program but you would like to intern with them.