Calling and Career Services


An internship is a temporary position within an organization or company that typically lasts anywhere between 10 weeks to 3 months.

Having a temporary position allows you to observe organizational structure, apply the information you have learned in the classroom in a real work setting, and develop strong contacts that could later be the tipping point of you landing your first big job!

In 2012 the National Association of Colleges & Employers reported that 60% of college graduates who had a paid internship prior to graduation were offered a job the summer after they graduated. Employers who pay their interns are more serious about the internship as it is often a recruiting tool. You will naturally develop more skills and bear more responsibility which will later make you more competitive and stand out amongst other candidates. Although, paid internships are very competitive and candidates who are selected typically have already held 1-2 relevant internships. The best rule of thumb is to begin interning early in college whether the position is paid or not and work towards securing a competitive internship the summer before your senior year.

Helpful Tips

Sign a contract.
When you acquire an internship, make sure you sign an agreement with position expectations, pay rate, and length of position with the employer. Outlining your responsibilities beforehand allows for open communication and realistic expectations.

Gain trust early on.
It is important to view your internship as a real job. It is vital that you arrive to work early and focus on adding value to the work environment—pay attention to detail, follow instructions, care about quality, do a great job even when handed boring tasks. If you gain an employer’s trust early on they will want to trust you with larger, more interesting projects.

Pay attention to office culture.
Understanding the culture of a work environment is just about as important as doing a job well. Glance over bad habits and take note of the good ones. Observe those who have advanced in the company/organization and see if you notice anything valuable worth mirroring.

Remain focused.
Unless your supervisor likes to get ahold of you through your personal number it is best to turn your phone off while at work as it is too tempting to text a friend or check social networking sites, especially when a task might be boring. You might be confident that it does not affect your work but supervisors will think differently. Bringing your full attention to what you are doing allows you to become better at your job more quickly.

Ask for feedback.
It is difficult for anyone to hear about the things they could improve on. But the more you ask your supervisor how you’re doing the easier it becomes to accept critique and implement change. Questions like “What could I be doing differently?” or “Am I meeting the goals of the organization?” make it easy for your manager to give you input and consequently you will grow much more if the changes are implemented.

Learn from your co-workers.
Take advantage of your internship and learn from those around you! Ask your co-workers about their own careers. How did they get in to the field? What do they like about it? What do they find challenging? What advice do they have for you? People love to talk about themselves and will probably be flattered you asked. It will also help you have a better working relationship with those in the office as they will recognize you as someone who is genuinely interested in what they do and view you as someone who takes your work seriously.

Dress appropriately.
It is important to remember that your internship is not just another class. It could be a major gateway into helping you land your first job. Take note of how the other employees dress and mirror their attire as much as possible. Dressing for work is not the time to show your individualized personality. It is not worth losing a job simply because you wanted to express yourself. It is worth the extra time to get ready to show up professionally dressed and on time.

Say thank you.
Talk to your manager about what you’re getting out of your internship. Thank them for the opportunity to work there. Everyone likes to ear the occasional expression of appreciation, so don’t be afraid to offer it. A simple expression of gratitude may even put you ahead of the pack. When your internship comes to a close be sure to write a “thank you” note to all who were involved in your training.

How do I find an internship?

The process of securing an internship is very similar to finding a job. While it is not a black and white process, there are some tips and strategies that are important to keep in mind.

Define what you want.
  • What kind of people, culture, and work environment do you want to invest your time in?
  • What kinds of strengths or skills are you looking to gain?
  • Determine your priorities or what matters most to you. (e.g. flexible hours, paid position, demographic, etc.)
  • Are you interested in an office type-setting or something that provides more flexibility?
  • Are you more interested in working with a business, non-profit, or church setting?
  • What is your ideal job? What types of opportunities are going to help give you relevant experience for this type of position?
  • Start early in the game: October – March is the primary season for most applications for summer internships and jobs for the following summer.
  • Create a running list of people you know who work at similar organizations that you are interested in working for.
  • Retrieve the “top employer list” of the city nearest to you and research their internship openings.
  • Keep track of deadlines and all the requirements for a successful application.
  • Apply to multiple internships that are both paid and non-paid.
  • If there is an opportunity to include a résumé and cover letter, always submit both—customized to the position you are applying.
  • Communicate with any personal contacts in the company to which you are applying to and let them know you are applying for the position.
Finding Openings

Just like job searching, there are 3 ways you can learn of internship openings:

1. Going Indirect
Going indirect means searching for collaborative job board sites where companies have posted position openings. There are three, main types of job boards:

  • General Job Boards ( or simplyhired)
  • Demographic Job Boards (
  • Industry Specific Job Boards (

2. Going Direct
Going direct is where you seek out a specific organization or company and view their job board directly on their website. This requires more effort on your part as it forces you to consider which companies you are most interested in working with.

3. Word of Mouth
Forbes reported that almost 75% of successful job searches occurred through networking. It is arguably the best tactic when searching for a job or internship.

Make an Appointment

Contact Career Services for guidance with networking, researching internships, and preparing for your first days in the office. Email or call 423.775.7164.