An internship is:
- A structured work experience related to a student's major and/or career goal
- An experience that should enhance a student's academic, career, and personal development
- Supervised by a professional in the field
- An experience that can be one academic term (summer, spring, fall) or multiple academic terms in length
- Paid or unpaid, part-time or full-time
- An experience that is mutually agreed upon by the student, supervisor and/or faculty member
- Meets registration requirements for 0 credit hour or academic internship course
- It’s important to note that to qualify as an internship the position does not have to be labeled “internship”. Many part time jobs, volunteer opportunities, or even summer jobs can qualify as an internship. Internships might also be called a practicum or co-op.
One of the recurring themes in any entry level job search is the lack of experience factor. "Where do I get experience if no one is willing to hire me?" The answer is simple: Get an internship!
Students planning to enter the permanent work force should complement their academic preparation with a range of other experiences, such as study abroad, community service, undergraduate research experiences, participation in sports and other student organizations, membership in pre-professional organizations, and internships.
An internship offers you the chance to learn by doing in a setting where you are supervised by a work-place professional, and have the opportunity to achieve your own learning goals, without the responsibilities of being a permanent employee.
An internship also offers you the opportunity to work with someone who can become a mentor for you - not only in the internship, but throughout your career.
- Learn about a career field from the inside and decide if this is the right career field for you
- Work alongside a professional in your chosen career area
- Observe the work place and see if it matches expectations
Leadership and Skill Development:
- Learn new skills and add to your knowledge base while gaining confidence in your abilities
- Opportunity to practice communication and teamwork skills
- Gain industry knowledge first hand from an organization and professionals
- Provide evidence that you have initiative, are reliable, and have a sense of responsibility
- Apply some of the ideas learned in school and provide a bridge between school and the professional world
- Achieve a sense of accomplishment by contributing to an organization
Networking and Establishing Mentors and References:
- Meet new people and practice networking skills while establishing a network of professional contacts, mentors, and references
- Open the door to a recommendation for steps to take next on your career path
- Gain valuable experience and accomplishments to add to your resume and/or enhance your application to Graduate School
- Create an advantage over other job or graduate school applicants
- Potential for a full time job offer at the end of the internship based on your performance
It’s never too early to start! You can start by meeting with a Pomerantz Career Center advisor for assistance – they can help you assess your interests, strengths and skills, create a resume, participate in practice interviews, research organizations and employers and finally search and apply for opportunities.
Each organization follows its own recruitment schedule, but Pomerantz Career Center recommends that a student should begin the process 6-9 months in advance of when they hope to participate in an internship. Students may participate in an internship in the fall, spring or summer semester.
Note: A student must be at the sophomore level or above (must have completed at least 12 hours of UI coursework) to register an internship for 0 credit hours and transcript notation.
Identify what you are looking for and what your current skills are - which skills do you hope to improve upon?
Identifying Your Transferable Skills
As a first step to obtaining an internship, it is important to identify your motivations, goals, and priorities. While it is sometimes difficult to decide which career path to pursue, doing so helps you conduct a more focused search for an internship. In addition, these considerations will help you to select an experience that is better aligned with your longer term career goals. In examining your motivations, goals, and priorities related to your internship search, ask yourself these questions:Motivations
- Why do I want an internship?
- How will obtaining an internship of interest potentially benefit me?
- In what field am I trying to gain experience?
- What do I want to gain from an internship?
- What kind of responsibilities would I like to have as an intern?
- What do I hope to learn from the internship?
- Do I prefer to intern at a certain location? Do I want to be in a location where I hope to find a full-time position? Do I want to be at home this summer or to live in a new city?
- Will I have access to housing? Can I afford to sublet an apartment?
- Do I need to make money over the summer? How much do I need? How much will my living expenses be? A Paid vs. Unpaid internship – things to consider. Even though an internship is unpaid, you’ll gain connections, training and an understanding for the field. You need to weigh your need for a paycheck against the benefits of the internship.
- Do I want to obtain an experience with a prominent organization, or do I like the idea of working for a smaller organization where I may be able to contribute to higher-level projects?
- Do I prefer to register this internship for credit hours or 0 credit hours and transcript notation?
Here are some things to consider:
- Does your department offer credit hours for internships? Some do and some do not. Check with your Academic Advisor or departmental internship coordinator.
- Do you actually need the credit hours? You will have to pay tuition on any hours received.
- Do you just want the internship noted on your transcript? Then the 0 credit hour course option might be for you. You don’t’ have to pay any tuition on the hours, the internship is noted on your transcript and you maintain full-time student status for insurance and student loan purposes.
RESEARCHING INDUSTRIES, OCCUPATIONS & ORGANIZATIONS
Before jumping full-force into an internship search, it is important to do your research. Conducting research will impact the direction of your search by helping you identify fields and careers more clearly. Also, doing careful research will help you market yourself more strategically and allow you to have a more focused conversation about your interests with potential employers.Occupation
- What does a typical day look like?
- What credentials are required?
- What is the typical career path?
- What skills are required to be successful?
- In what environments do people with this occupation work? (for-profit, non-profit, government)
- What are the job functions of this industry?
- What are the potential job titles within this industry?
- What kinds of skill-sets are expected for the kinds of work I would do in these jobs/this industry?
- What are the different areas within the industry in which I could potentially work?
- What are the current social/economic trends for this industry?
- What is the job market outlook for this industry?
- What is their mission/purpose for existence?
- What are their philosophies and core values?
- What is their reputation with their clientele/customers?
- What are the working conditions in this organization? How are employees treated?
- How are employees compensated and rewarded?
- Do employees seem to enjoy their work?
- Has the organization been in the news lately? If so, for what?
- What kind of internship programs do they offer?
There are a variety of ways to locate internships in your area of interest. The more extensive your research, the more likely you are the find the opportunity that best fits your needs.
Access your HireaHawk.com account - each student is set-up with a HireaHawk.com account. With this system you
can research employers, apply for jobs & internships, begin the internship registration process and participate in on-campus interviews and mock (practice) interviews.
- Attend a Job & Internship Fair! Pomerantz Career Center sponsors a fair each semester for all business, liberal arts &
sciences majors. In the spring, we also sponsor a fair for Arts, Communication & Media Majors, Health, Science &
Biotech Majors and Marketing, Sales & Management Majors. Employers will be in attendance to speak with you
about their internship and full-time employment opportunities. This is a great networking opportunity! Click here to find out about upcoming fairs and to RSVP to receive updates.
- Schedule an appointment with a Career Advisor - to find or develop an internship opportunity that is right for you.
Receive help to create or update your resume and cover letter as well as polish your interviewing skills.
Call 319-335- 1023 to schedule an appointment. During the school year, you can also meet with a Peer Advisor for a resume or cover letter review. Please visit the Career Center website for our walk-in hours.
- Learn more about these Pomerantz Career Center Internship Programs:
The Washington Center
The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars (TWC) offers University of Iowa students the opportunity to work in dozens of fields in private, public, and non-profit organizations in Washington D.C. TWC's academic internship program is available for students of any major, including the social sciences, humanities, engineering, science, math, the fine arts, and health professions. Successful completion of a fall or spring semester internship will earn 12-15 academic credits; successful completion of a summer internship will earn 6-9 academic credits. International internship placements are available through TWC's London program.
Walt Disney World College Program
The University of Iowa Disney College Internship Program is a one of a kind internship opportunity in Florida. This non-credit internship experience will provide students from The University of Iowa with a wide array of skills and experience they can later use to market themselves when searching for a full-time position.
Looking to fund your internship, service-learning, or research? Use these resources to make your experiential education happen!
- Department Resources - Visit with your Academic Advisor or the departmental internship coordinator to find out about academic internship courses offered through your major department.
- Website Resources – Visit WHAT CAN I DO WITH A MAJOR IN...
In addition, consider how those around you can assist you. Share your resume and speak with family, friends and campus contacts about your career goals and the type of internship that interests you. Your network can also be extremely helpful in refrring you to additional contacts and opportunities!
Even if you find an internship on your own, if it meets the requirements, you can still register it through the Pomerantz Career Center or your academic department.
Resource - Developing Your Own Internship - Northwestern University
Congratulations! You’ve got an internship! Now what? Many students make the mistake of thinking that all they have to do now is show up and take it all in. Unfortunately, “It’s just an internship, not a real job” is something we hear all too often. But doesn’t it make sense that if you are going to be spending all that time working, you might as well learn as much as you can? If you prepare, an internship can be an amazing learning experience, can be a great resource for references and can sometimes lead to full-time employment. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your internship:
- Set personal goals
Begin your internship with an idea of areas you would like to learn more about, skills you would like to build on and people you would like to meet. Set realistic and attainable goals. Keep in mind that your goals will probably change as you progress through the internship.
- Have regular meetings with your supervisor
The initial meeting is a great time to ask about the dress code, your work hours, and what will be expected of you. Once you begin the internship, these meetings are a great opportunity for you to obtain feedback and direction from your supervisor – both positive and negative. Use this time to speak openly with your supervisor about your performance and goals. Take the initiative – if your supervisor isn’t scheduling regular meetings with you, request that they be scheduled. Be sure to schedule a final meeting at the end of your internship.
- Maintain a positive attitude and be professional. Have fun!
Chances are, you will probably end up doing some menial office tasks. Approach all tasks with enthusiasm and professionalism. Your ability to successfully complete these menial tasks may be a stepping stone to more responsibility within the office. Say no to negativity! Avoid complaining, being rude, disrespecting your co-workers, and/or not performing your tasks on-time. Treat everyone in the office with respect. A common mistake among interns and new employees is to treat the secretaries and clerks as beneath them – don’t do this! They are often the backbone of the organization.
- Immerse yourself – take initiative – do your best work
Employers love interns who jump at the chance to tackle tough problems and can provide unique solutions to their problems. Work closely with your supervisor – share your successes and try not to over-step your boundaries. If you finish projects and have nothing else to do, ask your supervisor and/or other members of your department if they have additional work for you.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions
It will not reflect poorly on you if you ask questions. In fact, it shows that you are interested in doing the best job possible. An internship is a learning experience and while your employer expects certain things from you, they do not expect you to know everything. Seek advice and ask questions whenever you need clarification.
- Network! Take advantage of the opportunities that are offered
Finding a mentor within the organization is a major key to a successful internship. A mentor should be your supervisor and/or someone else within the organization. They will watch out for you and make sure that you are given opportunities to learn and accomplish your goals. They will also help you foster relationships with other staff members. Socialize and go out of your way to meet employees in various departments. Take advantage of the opportunities that are offered – try to attend as many company meetings, conferences and events as you can. The more you are exposed to new ideas and new people, the more you will learn. Never burn your bridges – always leave on good terms because you never know when and where you will see these people again.
- Keep track of your accomplishments
Start a journal to help you keep track of your accomplishments throughout the internship. This will help you update your resume and/or create or update your portfolio!
- Leave on a positive note
Be sure to thank everyone who helped you. Write a formal thank you letter to your supervisor.
Sources:Making the Most of Your Internship Experience, Berkeley University of California
Making the Most of Your Internship(s)
Here are a few tips
During your internship, it's a good idea to start a journal to keep track of your accomplishments. This will help you update your resume and/or create or update your portfolio! For help polishing your resume, please visit the Pomerantz Career Center during our walk-in hours - Monday - Friday (during the school year) from 9am-4pm.