What is an Internship?
It is more important than ever to participate in an internship or pre-professional experience before you look for a job upon graduation. Increasingly, employers want people with experience and an internship, or multiple internships, provides you with that experience. In the job search, having completed an internship clearly gives you an edge over those who haven’t.
You can search for and complete an internship at any point during your undergraduate education. There are even internship opportunities available for recent graduates. Starting the internship process either freshman or sophomore year allows you the flexibility to complete multiple internships in a variety of areas. By graduation, you would have a better understanding of where and how you like to work.
- Short-term, supervised, pre-professional work experiences which provide you training and experience in a specific field or career area.
- Learning experiences where you are expected to be productive and add value to the organization.
- Available in a wide variety of fields and from a wide variety of employers.
- Be paid or unpaid.
- Be for credit or not. Check with your academic department to see if an internship is required for your major or if you have the ability to take an internship for credit as an elective that is part of your major.
- Be formal or informal.
- Vary in hours and length.
By participating in an internship, you may:
- Gain valuable, hands-on, work experience in a real life career field.
- Explore a career field of interest without making a commitment.
- Identify an employer for full-time employment after college.
- Evaluate and be evaluated by a potential employer.
- Integrate and complement academic studies with on-the-job professional level experience.
- Test personal aptitudes, abilities, and interests in relation to your career choice and job demands.
- Develop marketable, transferable skills which employers value.
- Provide a valuable resource to an employer and make a real world impact.
How Career and Internship Services Can Help With the Internship Process
- Meet with a UMC Career Counselor - A counselor can help you create a search plan for finding an internship, review your resume and cover letter, and practice interviewing.
- Resume - Start your resume prior to starting the internship search process. This will provide you time to perfect the details of the document before needing to submit it with an application. Here are our different resume services:
- Have a Career Counselor review it.
- Resume Drop-ins (5-10 minutes to meet with a counselor - no appointment needed!)
- Beginning Resume Workshop - See our Workshops page for more information.
- Resume Critique - email or drop off your resume and it will be returned to you immediately or within 5 days.
- Check the on-line Career Handbook for more detailed information on how to write a resume.
- Cover Letter - The Career Handbook has information and samples for writing cover letters.
- Assessments - We offer four assessments (Strong Interest Inventory, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Self-Directed Search and StrengthsQuest) that can help explore more options if you are not quite sure what field you want to pursue for an internship.
- Informational Interviewing - Interview professionals in the field to learn more about different careers and organizations. This is also a great way to start building your network.
- Establish an Online Presence - We can help you establish and build your presence on various social media platforms, such as LinkedIn or Twitter. We host LinkedIn Drop-ins, to help you work on your LinkedIn profile. See our social media page for more details on the importance of social media in your internship or job search.
- Job & Internship Fairs - The Career and Internship Services office sponsors a number of Job & Internship Fairs throughout the school year on-campus, at other local universities, and with other University of Minnesota campuses.
Making the Most of Your Internship
Performing well in an internship is crucial. In many cases, an outstanding performance as an intern can result in a full-time job offer. Even if a full-time job doesn’t come through, if your manager and your co-workers see how well you perform, they will be your biggest supporters in the job search. Here are some important points to keep in mind as you get started on your internship:
Your Performance Matters
- Set personal goals. Think about what you would like to achieve during your internship. Goals can range from learning new computer skills, experiencing and deciding about the type of work environment you would like in the future, deciding if you want to be a commuter, and many more.
- Be professional and maintain a positive attitude. These two actions during your internship go a long way to keeping your network intact once you are finished with your internship.
- Work hard. Do whatever is needed and do not assume that your education equips you with so much knowledge that executing low-level projects is beneath you. Don’t be the intern that turns their nose up at the “little” jobs.
- People are paying attention. Your employer is paying attention. Even the little things matter. The way that you interact with your colleagues, your willingness to take on the mundane tasks, how well the job gets done – it all matters to the people around you. You never have a second chance to make a first impression. Remember that these people will be key advisors and allies in your future job search.
- Do your best. The quality of every task you complete and every interaction you have with colleagues, partners, etc. will affect how you are perceived by your peers and colleagues. This does not mean you have to be the expert on day one. It means that every day you should show up ready to do your best.
- Seek out extra work. Show your willingness to go above and beyond what’s in the job description for your internship. Be proactive in asking for more projects and responsibilities. Look for opportunities to assist co-workers and volunteer for assignments that interest you.
- Have regular meetings with your Academic Advisor or UMC Career Counselor and don’t be afraid to ask questions: Regularly meeting with your advisor can help ensure that your internship is progressing as it should be and meeting any specified requirements. These meetings can also be your opportunity to ask any questions you may have in regards to your internship. You can also take the opportunity to build a rapport with your academic advisor who will hopefully be a reference for you down the road during your job search.
Develop Your Skills
One of the key benefits of completing your internship is that you are developing skills that you will be applying in your career.
- Develop your skills. Challenge yourself by helping out with projects requiring you to develop skills that you don’t use very often. Observe the skills used by people in the kinds of positions in which you envision yourself working, and polish those skills.
- Be a team player. In today’s workplace, more and more work is project-oriented, which means you will be working on teams. If you are a strong team player, you will be a strong intern.
- Keep track of your accomplishments and the work you have completed. Tracking your work while you are in the midst of your internship will help you to better articulate your experience on your resume and in future interviews.
- Seek feedback from supervisors and co-workers. Get a sense of what you are doing well and what needs to be improved on. If feedback indicates that there is room for improvement, ask for specific suggestions on how you can get better and make it a point to get better.
Building Relationships is Critical
- Network with co-workers at your internship. Everyone you meet is a potential member of your network. The more people who know you and your work, the more support you will have when it comes to turning your internship into a full-time job. Some of these co-workers will act as workplace references for you should you decide to conduct your job search in another career sector or company.
- Find a mentor. A mentor can make a big difference. If you have the opportunity, try to develop a relationship with a mentor who can guide and support you in your internship, in your efforts to secure a full-time offer, and beyond. Ask to take that person to coffee to learn about their experiences and career path. Some key questions you can ask:
- How did you get into the industry?
- What have you found challenging?
- What do you think is most important for someone like me to know or to learn, to be successful?
- What feedback can you give me on my work and development so far?
- Stay in touch and leave on a positive note. Leave on the best possible terms. Always thank your manager for the internship. If you are interested in working at the organization full-time, stay in touch and ask about openings. If you have a close relationship with some of your colleagues, connect with them on LinkedIn. Ask for feedback about the work you did while in the internship. Even if you don’t want to work for the company in the future, still be professional. You never know how far your co-workers’ networks span or when you may cross paths with them again.
After the Internship
- Reflect upon the experience. What did you learn?
- Update your resume. Meet with a UMC Career Counselor or academic advisor or stop at Resume Drop-ins in the Career Center if you need help.
- Send thank you notes to your supervisor and the colleagues you worked with closely.
- Ask for a letter of recommendation or to use that individual as a reference.
- Create or update your portfolio to be able to show evidence to future employers of the work you completed during your internship.
- Build upon the experience. If you liked your internship, what can you do next to keep gaining experience that area.
- If you didn’t like the internship setting, job duties, or the industry as a whole, meet with a UMC Career Counselor or your academic advisor to explore what should be your next step.
Find an Internship
Resources to Start With
(U of M login required)
GoldPASS is a free, on-line service where UMC students, alumni, and employers connect. UMC students and alumni can post resumes, view job and internship listings, register for career fairs, schedule interviews, and more. Employers can post jobs, schedule information sessions, set-up interviews, and browse for qualified applicants among registered UMC students and alumni.
Employer Internship Survey/Contacts
(U of M login required)
A survey conducted by UMC's Career Development. This document has lists of companies (and contacts) that want to hire UMC interns!
General Internship Search Resources
- APA: Accredited Internship Programs
- CDS - Internships & Study Tours
- Carter Center Internships College Grad
- Washington DC internships
- FBI Honors Internship
- Federal Internships
- Intern Salaries
- International Opportunities-Program
- Internship Programs
- NOW's Internship Program - Compilation and information about internship program offered by National Organization for Women.
- Student Conservation Association (SCA)
- The Washington Center
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
- U.S. State Department Internships
Other Internship Options
Intern away is the concept of leaving your current geographic location (i.e. Crookston, Minnesota, or the Midwest) and interning with an organization in another part of the country. This could be your opportunity to: figure out if you truly could “live anywhere,” travel, expand your cultural horizons, and experience your field of interest in another area of the United States. Completing and being able to articulate an experience like this can show future employers that you have skills such as adaptability, independence, or taking initiative.
Design Your Own Internship
You may want to intern for a particular company that does not normally offer an internship in your particular area of interest. If your area of interest is within the scope of what the organization does, you could propose an internship. It is recommended that you meet with a UMC career counselor or your Academic Advisor as proposing your own internship can be somewhat more complicated than applying for internships that are advertised.
- Department of Labor Internship Fact Sheet
- Internship Law and Legal Definition
- NACE articles on internships
- Unpaid Internships: A Survey of the NACE Membership
Any links to external Web sites are provided as a courtesy. They should not be construed as an endorsement by UMC Career Development Office of the content or views of the linked materials. The individual is advised to use caution and common sense when applying for any position with an organization or a private party.