It's never too early to start thinking about internships! Internships can help you explore your personal and professional interests, try out a career option and network with professionals.
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.
Internship Reviews - Written by Students: Learn more about typical internship activities and take a peek into internship programs by reading the day-in-the-life summaries written by students who have interned at a great variety of companies and organizations: Internship Site Reviews.
UT Liberal Arts Intern Profiles: Read internship success stories to learn how other students have made the most of internships, and how you can do the same.
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 option 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 for business-interested students only?
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 legit? 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.
Below are a few resources to help you explore the current debate on unpaid internships at for-profit companies.
- New York Times "Unpaid Interns: Silent No More"
- Bloomberg "Sleeping-Giant Issue of Unpaid U.S. Interns Gets Scrutiny"
- The New York Times "Judge Rules That Movie Studio Should Have Been Paying Interns"
- ProPublica: Tracking Intern Lawsuits
- Intern Labor Rights
- Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division: Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under the Fair Labor Standards Act
Does LACS offer internship advising?
Career coaches are available Monday - Friday to provide internship advising. Our coaches can help connect you with valuable internship resources, prepare your internship applications and direct you to credit-based internship courses. Visit our Career Coaching page to learn how to make an internship advising appointment.
How do I search for an internship?
The following steps will help you identify your interest, prepare for internship applications and connect with internship opportunities.
- Register with LACS: Register with us by creating a BTT Gateway account which will give you access to our internship databases as well as internship advising and on-campus recruiting.
- Explore Yourself: Identify your interests, skills, values, and intriguing ideas. Consider your career goals. What type of internship do you want?
- Get Organized: Set a timeline and create a plan to clarify internship options for this semester and following semesters. How do you want to grow your professional skills while you're at UT?
- Research: Research companies and organizations which offer internships: utilize our career resource library in FAC 18 or the online Vault library. Meet with employers at career fairs, info sessions and other events; check out our calendar for upcoming events.
- Connect with Opportunities: Explore the internship resources in the LACS Resource Library (FAC 18). Search for internship postings in the online databases, including BTT Gateway and accessUT.
- Internship Programs: Check out special internship programs in DC, LA & NY.
- Earn Credit: Enroll in an internship course to make the most of your internship.
- Prepare: Craft targeted resumes and cover letters.
- Prepare for Interviews and Interview Effectively: Research the employer thoroughly so that you know what they do and why you will be a great addition to their team. Practice your interviewing skills, including answers to common interview questions and preparing questions to ask. Practice with mock interviews available at LACS.
- Follow-Up: Send thank-you letters. Stay in contact with employers to determine the status of your application.
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. Use the steps above to make the most of your internship 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.