career center internships article

Internships…The Competitive Advantage!

The Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How

Learning objectives:

1. To understand the nature and the value of an internship.

2. To know where to locate information on potential internships.

3. To understand how and when to apply for an internship or how to design your own internship.

WHAT is an internship?

By the University's definition, it is…

Faculty sponsored educational experience, most often for University credit, in which a student works in a professional setting relative to academic studies, under the supervision of at least one practicing professional.

The 6 important pieces of an internship are:

1. An internship is purposeful, has specific learning outcomes, provides opportunities for reflection, presents a continual challenge to the student, and incorporates active learning, with the student as an active participant in all stages of the experience from planning to evaluation.

2. Credit is granted only when an Indiana State University Faculty Member is directly involved in determining both the course content and in evaluating the student's work. Students are responsible to properly register for such courses.

3. The Internship shall be documented, in writing, and serves as an agreement for the duration of each student's experience. Each actively involved party in the agreement (the University Sponsor, Site Supervisor, and Student) should retain a signed copy of the Agreement and Position Description.

4. Academic departments are responsible for reporting internship data to the ISU Internship Repository.

5. Every internship should be evaluated both by the student and the host at least once during the experience.

6. Problems that arise during an internship should be discussed between the Student, Site Supervisor, and University Sponsor for resolution.

Internship can be achieved in a multitude of ways: Paid vs. Unpaid, and For Credit vs. Non Credit.

Students may engage in one, or more than one, at any time during their educational experience.

What the difference between a coop, non credit internship and a part time job?

• Relates to the students major

• Must meet University's Internship criteria

• University Involvement

• Liability insurance coverage for the student

• Defined timeline (start and end dates)

• Can be paid or unpaid

• Site visits (sometimes)

• Multiple internships viewed positively, multiple part time jobs viewed negatively

Coops are most often full time, for credit, academic experiences that are repeated in alternating semesters with full time education.

What the difference between for credit vs. noncredit internship?

Paying tuition for credit

Assignments associated with the course

Credit internships show on the student's transcript

WHY does an internship matter?

To "try out" the field of study for rightfit

To "try out" a job or company for rightfit

Experience in the field of the major


Application of the learning components acquired in the classroom

Personal practice

Preemployment trial with a desired company

Not everyone does an internship, yet all of your college classmates will be getting a degree. It's YOUR competitive advantage!

WHO should do an internship?

Of course, those that have the requirement in their academic major.

Those that aspire to a higher than entry level job as they leave college.

Those that wish to "try out" the major before securing employment.

Those that wish to "try out" a company for best fit prior to employment.

In short, it's right for EVERYONE!

WHEN is the right time to do an internship?

At any point, and perhaps at multiple points, during your college experience.


It an ideal time to try out your major. Contact companies to see if you can engage with them to learn more about company culture, learn about the business, and how professionals in your field of study use the degree within the company. More and more companies are looking for the right type of person, more than the major. Their philosophy is … if you are a person of moral, ethical, and integrity, then we can teach what you need to know to do the job well. Many companies that believe such will seek students at the freshman level, and utilize them as interns over repeated summers, teaching more as they progress, and then the fit is most ideal at graduation for the intern to become advanced employee.


If you got it right last summer, then you can repeat the experience with some added duties.

If you are still unsure, it a good time to try the major on in a different environment. Often contrasting environments with the major can give a more clear picture of best fit.

If you figured out last summer that the major was not a good fit, then now would be the perfect time to test the waters with a new choice.


Now you've got some experience, so you've beyond testing waters. It time to apply what you know…build upon the foundation. Get some real experience.


This is the ideal time to do the preemployment test. Choose the company that you think is right for you, and go for it! You can't lose! If you've right, then you've got the foot in the door for the job. If not, then you've gained relevant experience for your resume, and perhaps a good reference.

WHERE does one find an internship?

Your resources are endless! It may be with a major corporation in Texas, the daycare down the street, with Mom's workplace, or with Uncle Fred's insurance company. It really depends on what YOU want.

Some possible options: Large Corporation in a big city, something close to home or a relative, international experience, etc. The most important factor is really that you consider what options will serve you best within your resources and availability. If you can travel, consider wider options. If you can't, then consider strategically what you can do…then do it!

HOW does one find an internship?

Remember…you just need one really good fit. It's much like the job search, and frankly, good practice for it. Take ownership! Dig until you find what's right for you!

First and foremost, BE PREPARED!

• Be mindful of time. Don't wait until the last minute and expect to get the best internship.

• Have a really good resume, even if you have no work or internship experience, you can have a dynamite resume. Have several people proofread for mistakes.

• Develop relationships that result in good usable references in all that you do. Use references that are relevant to the positions for which you are applying.

• Type, rather than using an ink pen, when you can.

• Carefully consider your email address and your voicemail message when applications are out.

• Speak professionally…practice good speech and leave out the slang.

• Understand and develop a professional appearance for the interview.

Use all of your resources….

• Internet Search engines

• Internet internship/job posting sites

• Chamber of Commerce

• Professional Organizations

• Service Clubs

• Part time or summer jobs

• Newspapers and Help Wanted

• The phone book

• Phone the HR department of companies that are of interest to you

• Networking

• Relatives, friends, and colleagues….and their relatives, friends, and colleagues

Factors to consider…

• Personal preferences and limitations

• Location

• Company size

• Role that you might play

• Major and fit with the company…but be open minded!

• Entrepreneurial

• Nonprofits

• Government agencies

• Project based work vs role in the company

Ways to find internships:

Apply as directed for opportunities that are posted publically. Use all of your resources to find those positions.

Discuss your interests and/or goals with faculty and a counselor in the Career Center. They often know people or know people who know people that can connect you to resources.

Find a job that sounds like a good fit…but you need an internship. Ask if you can do some of the duties while they progress with a search to fill the job.

Some companies know they have a need and list the opportunities for public notice. Some companies aren't so proactive with seeking interns. Call the company and offer your services and see if they can use your help. Craft an individual experience based on their needs, and your ability.

Lastly, don't forget FOCUS INDIANA!

ISU Glossary of Terms for Experiential Learning, Internships, and Related Experiences

Office of Academic Affairs

These are broad, general definitions intended to be widely applicable. Specific fields may have specialized definitions.

Clinical Experience: Supervised course work within which the student has the opportunity to engage in clinical activities similar to those performed by a departmentally approved professional. Departmental policies and accreditation criteria often define the experience. Site supervisors are often held to specific credentials as a component of such.

Coop: Attributes of cooperative education include:

Being an integral part of the Academic Program and with policies and practices appropriate to achievement of program educational goals;

Having a clear and publicly stated, formalized plan for the alternation, full or halftime, of campus based classroom study with multiple periods of work experiences;

Academic programs have understandings with employers on the goals for cooperative education. (Adapted from the Accreditation Council for Cooperative Education.)

Experiential learning: Engaging students in learning through sequential exposure to challenging, compelling, and enriching activities conducted in a relevant setting. It integrates development of knowledge and skill, and fosters the application of methods of critical inquiry. Experiential learning engages students in personal reflection in order to organize, interpret, and bring meaning and coherence to the learning experience. Experiential learning courses usually encompass course objectives, learning strategies, reflection, and evaluation.

Field work: Activities performed outside the classroom, library, studio, or laboratory for University credit and under the supervision of an instructor.

Internship: Faculty sponsored educational experience, most often for University credit, in which a student works in a professional setting relative to academic studies, under the supervision of at least one practicing professional.

Noncredit Internship: An internship that is elected by the student, for which the student does not receive academic credit. The internship may be a repeated experience, or one that does not meet academic criteria even though it is relevant to the student's major. Noncredit internships may be sponsored by the academic department, the Career Center, or any other University supported area and should also be supervised by at least one practicing professional.

Practicum: An academic course that combines classroom and field activities under the supervision of an instructor.

Service Learning: A teaching method that pairs classroom material with related community service to increase student learning. The method often involves defining objectives, implementation of various learning strategies, reflection, and evaluation.