It’s never too early to start thinking about internships! Internships can help you explore your personal and professional interests, try out a career path and network with professionals. Start looking for an internship today!
Career coaches are available Monday - Friday to provide internship coaching. Our coaches can help connect you with valuable internship resources, prepare your internship applications and direct you to credit-based internship courses. Visit our Appointments page to learn how to make an internship coaching appointment.
What is an internship? An internship is a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Internships give students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths; and give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent. Internships can be paid or unpaid, and you may or may not receive academic credit for performing the internship.
Why should I do an internship? According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, internship programs are listed as the number one place employers look when recruiting new hires. In a nutshell, internships provide you with the opportunity to test-drive a career path and to gain valuable experience and skills in the process that will make you more competitive and marketable in today's job search.
In additional to learning hard skills used to complete tasks, internships also help build soft skills needed to interact in a professional setting. You will hone your communication and interpersonal skills and experience and understand organization/company culture.
Are internships only for students who want to work in business? Not at all. Internships can be valuable for any student, whether you're interested in business, nonprofit administration, education, public service, graduate school or law school. Internships are available in all sectors and students can intern in a great variety of roles, from marketing to teaching and counseling/therapy to museum research.
Are internships paid or unpaid? Internships may be paid or unpaid, depending on the employer/internship site. If you have an unpaid internship, is it legitimate? Most nonprofit and government internship programs have greater flexibility when offering unpaid internships. However, for-profit companies must meet government-issued criteria to offer unpaid internships.
The Department of Labor's Fair Standards Act outlines six criteria that must be met for a for-profit company to offer unpaid internships. You can review the criteria here. Each for-profit company is responsible for determining whether each of its particular internship programs meets the unpaid criteria. If you are applying for an unpaid internship that does not appear to meet the DoL's six criteria, contact Liberal Arts Career Services (512-471-7900) for help framing a professional conversation about the pay status with your potential internship supervisor or the hiring manager.
A Day in the Life of an Intern
Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of an intern is really like? Take a peek into internship programs by reading the day-in-the-life summaries written by liberal arts students who have interned in a variety of organizations and industries: Internship Site Reviews.
The following steps will help you identify your interest, prepare for internship applications and connect with internship opportunities.
- Know what you seek- Focus on a specific city, industry and role to make the search less overwhelming and find an internship more quickly.
- Prepare materials – Use the qualifications listed in the internship posting to customize your resume and cover letter each time you apply for something new.
- Apply- Follow the application instructions precisely.
- Interview- Use the organization’s website to research the organization and role thoroughly before your interview.
Repeat steps 1-4 as necessary. Found a great internship? Congrats! We’d love to hear about it. Please share your success story via this short form. We will keep your information confidential unless you give us permission to share your story.
Components of a Successful Internship
- The internship has a defined beginning and end dates that includes a job description and desired qualifications.
- Clearly defined learning objectives and goals related to your goals and your academic experiences. You need to set up expectations and goals with your supervisor from the start.
- Supervision by a professional with expertise or professional background in the field. Your supervisor regularly provides you with performance feedback.
How to Create a Successful Internship
- Build a relationship with your supervisor, you want to maintain a high level of professionalism, but it’s okay to share stories about your interest outside of work.
- Maintain a clean workspace from day one. Remember that impressions matter, and you don’t want any distractions from your work. Also important note if you share an office space with other interns.
- Meet other professionals and get outside of your office. You should make plans to go to social events, meet other employees at your internship, and seek to understand the organization’s cultures and how people fit in.
- Speak up and ask questions. Remember that the purpose of your internship is to learn and grown. Don’t make a mistake on a task that could have been prevented by speaking up or asking people to clarify.
- Seek out new projects and new opportunities. Speak to your supervisor about skills you want to gain and new projects you want to take on. Take initiatives on your own after you complete the tasks given to you.
- Show Up and Be on Time, make sure you are a true professional at all times.
- Be Reliable: do you meet deadlines, pay attention to details, and create meaningful work? Can your supervisor trust you?
Internship Courses for Academic Credit: Three and one-credit coureses are offered each semester.
Pre-Law & Students Interested in Graduate School: Internships are a great way to learn about law careers and to help develop your research skills for an eventual advanced degree program. Meet with a Career Coach to discuss your search and take advantage of the following special options as well.
- Pre-Law: Join the pre-law listserv for regular internship postings. Email the pre-law advisor to request a subscription.
- Grad School: Check out the grad school research page to learn about project opportunities and check out the Grad School Internship Course to work with a current graduate student on a research project.
International Students Interested in Internship: Please meet with a Career Coach and visit the Office of International Education for guidance on your work eligibility