Internship Frequently Asked Questions
- Where should I go to find internships?
- What should I look for in a company to intern with? How would you define a "good internship"?
- What should I look out for when looking for an internship?
- What do I need to do once I find an internship?
- How useful are internships at helping me get a job after graduation?
- What are some other benefits of internships?
- Are there advantages to having a summer internship as opposed to an internship during the semester?
- Are most internship paid or unpaid?
- How is the internship tied to the guaranteed job program?
- How much time will the internship take?
- Could this internship lead to future employment?
- Will this internship be helpful for networking?
- Is there anything else I should know about internships?
The most reliable avenue to finding an internship is through Thomas College's Career Services office. If you wish to do an internship, visit the Career Services office to start the process. Career Services will discuss your approach to finding internships including:
Look online for internship openings.
The Career Services online job board posts internships on a regular basis.
Networking. Contact people in your field at professional events such as seminars and professional breakfast meetings, career fairs, or through online networking sites such as LinkedIn.com.
Consider an internship through The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. TWC offers opportunities for students in every major.
Consider an international internship.
The professors in your major may have contacts with companies as well.
2. What should I look for in a company to intern with? How would you define a "good internship"?
A "good internship" has intentional learning goals and provides you an opportunity to apply knowledge learned in the classroom to the workplace. As an integral part of the internship, you will be required to develop five learning objectives that need to be approved by your internship site mentor (supervisor) and your academic advisor. An internship is also considered "good" if you are able to gain an understanding of the skills and knowledge required in the workplace. The most important benefits from the internship are that you gain decision-making skills, critical thinking skills, increased confidence, and self-esteem.
Just be sure to ask plenty of questions about the scope and nature of the work. What will I be spending most of my time doing at the company? Are projects already created for this internship or will someone be responsible for giving me assignments? Will the internship supervisor / site mentor have adequate time to provide me with feedback, direction and guidance? Will I have the opportunity to do some meaningful work, or will I be making coffee and filing papers? These questions can help you understand the nature of the internship and hopefully help you avoid an unhealthy internship experience.
Sign a learning contract that must be completed with a minimum of five job-related learning objectives that are related to your major and are consistent with the job duties the employer expects you to fulfill.
The learning contract needs to be approved and signed by your academic advisor, division chair and internship site mentor (supervisor) prior to acceptance into the program. Summer interns should submit the signed contracts prior to the end of finals week.
Internships are critical to landing a position after graduation. If you have completed an internship, you are at least twice as likely to find a permanent position for several reasons. One reason is because employers seek out students who have prior experience in the workplace. Employers reported that anywhere from 60% to 85% of new hires were from their intern program. In addition, there are some organizations that are increasingly difficult to obtain positions in unless you enter through their internship programs.
Besides helping you in your future job search, you will learn more about the workplace in general. You will also have a clearer understanding of what employers are looking for in an employee. Not only have you developed more skills to put on your resume, you will have a better perspective on the work environment. It may be that you will end up realizing that you do not wish to pursue a particular job, but then you are not committed to working for an extended period in something you do not enjoy. The experience of practicing searching for a position, submitting application materials, and having interviews is also valuable in securing a full-time position when you graduate.
In a summer internship you may have more time to immerse yourself in a professional working environment and not have it distract you from being successful in school. Summer internships may be more plentiful and therefore easier to find. However, internships may or may not be paid and this can pose a problem if you are trying to earn enough money over the summer to help pay for your education.
Nationwide, a majority of internships are paid, but we see a fairly even blend of paid and unpaid internships. It depends on the industry and the situation of the individual organizations. Even if paid, however, internships do not pay as well as similar entry-level position, but they pay off through the valuable work experience. Many unpaid internships are part time, which allows you to work part-time jobs at the same time. Paid internships typically require more hours. The United States Department of Labor issued updated pay guidelines for interns in April 2010.
Completing an internship is an important eligibility criterion of the Guaranteed Job Program. Students who complete internships for credit in their college programs are generally more successful in finding career employment after graduating, and students must complete an internship for credit to qualify for the GJP.
10. How much time will the internship take?
This is an important question to ask the employer early on, particularly if you are working at a part-time job or taking classes. If your schedule is too overwhelming, it will be hard to perform well at your internship. If the internship is during the semester, ask if the employer is willing to provide scheduling flexibility during finals and other crunch times. Find out how many hours and how many weeks the employer is offering, as this will determine the number of credits for your internship course.
Companies sometimes hire former interns for full-time positions after they graduate. Ask the employer if this is a possibility. If so, be sure to prove your worthiness, as every day will be part of your job interview!
Yes, absolutely. Any time you have the opportunity to get to know people who work in your field, that is great for networking. Ask yourself, will you get to know lots of people in the company and other people who might help you get a full-time job? Or will letters of recommendation from this company carry some weight?
Start to investigate internship opportunities in your freshman or sophomore year because it can also help you decide on a major. You may want to approach an organization about creating an internship, and this could take some time. Also remember that internships build key skill areas on your resume so look for opportunities that will enhance your skills in some way or build specific skill sets like writing or computer knowledge.