Starting this process can be daunting at first, but we are here to answer your questions. Below are just a few of the most common questions.
What is an Internship?
An internship is a pre-professional work experience that provides students (or recent graduates) with the opportunity to gain experience in a particular career field related to the students’ major or career interests. Ideally, students receive close supervision, guidance, and mentoring by a professional at the work site. Learning should be intentional and students should have specific goals and objectives outlined.
Internships may be in a non-profit organization, a government office, or a for-profit business. Positions may or may not be paid, and the student may or may not receive academic credit. Students who do internships may work during the fall, spring, or summer terms. Check with your Advisor or check the curriculum for your program/major to see if an internship is required or if you can receive elective academic credit.
An internship is essentially an extended job interview. Employers get to know you and find out if you are someone they would like to hire full-time, and you get to know the employer to determine if this is a place you would like to work.
What are the Benefits of Doing an Internship?
There are many benefits of doing an internship, which include:
- Gaining real world experience and applying classroom theory to real world situations
- Networking with professionals in your field of interest
- Developing relationships with professionals
- An opportunity to test out and explore career options
- Developing professional skills specific to your career field and soft skills, such as team work, communication, time management, etc.
- Identifying future job opportunities or transitioning your internship into a full-time job
- Identifying a professional mentor
- Gaining academic credit
When Should I Begin Looking for an Internship?
Finding an internship may take a week or it may take up to a year. The sooner you begin exploring internship opportunities, the better off you will be. Also, keep in mind that many employers do not list internships on their company website, SpartanCareers, or other job posting sites. In fact, some employers may not even think about hiring an intern unless someone approaches them about an internship. For that reason, it is important to be proactive when looking for an internship. Research companies that you might have an interest in working for and contact them to express interest in doing an internship with them and discussing that possibility with them. Conducting Informational Interviews are also a great way to tap into possible internships. The Bryan Career Services and Internship Programs Office can assist you with this process.
A number of the Fortune 100/500 companies have structured internship programs and their hiring process begins in the fall. If you plan to apply for internships with any of these companies, it is important to check their websites for internship information, including application deadlines.
How Do I Go About Looking for an Internship?
Just as you would use more than one approach for finding a job, you will want to use a number of different approaches to identify internship opportunities. Your internship search strategy should include the following:
- Register with SpartanCareers and review internship listings.
- Meet with a Career Counselor to discuss and/or assess your skills, interests, limitations, and work values.
- Utilize your network! Talk to people to see if they know of internships, can refer you to people or companies, or can just be a good resource for you. People in your network may include:
- Social and professional contacts on sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
- Family & friends
- Professors & classmates
- Career Counselors
- Alumni (UNCG and your other alma mater)
- Professional association/organization members
- Other social groups (church, fraternity/sorority, civic organizations, volunteer groups, etc.)
- Past/present co-workers and supervisors
- Research companies of interest and develop a list of the top ten companies you would like to approach for internship opportunities. Continually revise and update the list, as needed. Discuss this list with a Career Counselor. To search for companies, sometimes doing a Google search will help significantly.
- When searching job boards, conduct a key word web search, such as “marketing internships” or “finance internships”. Refine your search as needed.
- Attend Career Fairs at UNCG, North Carolina A&T State University, other colleges/universities, or in the community. It’s best to call colleges/universities you don’t attend to make sure students from other colleges are allowed to attend their fairs.
- Attend other career related events at UNCG or in the community where you may have the opportunity to connect with a professional who could be a good internship resource or could refer you to another professional.
- Utilize print resources. There are a number of internship books located in the UNCG Career Services Center Resource Library (#1 EUC) which you can look through. The Resource Library is open from 8:00am-5:00pm, Monday-Friday. Books cannot be removed from the library.
Preparing for an Internship?
Prior to approaching an employer about an internship it is important to ask yourself some questions and set some goals, especially if you are asking an employer to create an internship. Often times, the employer will be able to better assist you and work with you if you have some learning goals and areas of interests in mind. It is also important to tailor this information to each employer, as needed.
- Why are you interested in doing an internship?
- What do you hope to gain from doing an internship?
- What can you contribute to an employer by doing an internship – knowledge, skills, and abilities? How can you add value?
- What do you want to learn about a particular industry/field/company?
- How will you apply classroom theory to real-life situations?
- What work functions do you want learn about?
- What are some job specific tasks you want to take part in?
- What do you want to learn about the company culture?
- What career related skills do you want to learn/strengthen?
- International students should be familiar with the policies and procedures related to Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Click here for more information.
In preparing for an internship, it is also important to be working on the following:
- Your resume – You may need different versions of your resume tailored to different internships that you apply for; your resume is a marketing tool and the goal should be to win you an interview!
- Your cover letter – Your cover letters should always be tailored to the company and the internship you are applying for.
- Your reference list – Begin compiling a list of 3-5 people that you could use for professional references; may include professors, past/present supervisors, advisors, etc.
- Your LinkedIn profile – Your LinkedIn profile is basically an online resume. It’s a great way for you to be “seen” by your network and other professionals. For tips on building your LinkedIn profile, speak to a Career Counselor.
- Your portfolio (if applicable) – Samples of your work that showcase and provide evidence of your skills and abilities, for example, writing samples, marketing materials, recommendation letters, presentation outlines, etc.
- Your interviewing skills – Students are strongly encouraged to practice and strengthen their interviewing skills by participating in mock interviews, both with employers and with Career Counselors; reviewing typical interview questions and writing down responses is also a great way to enhance your interviewing skills. Tips about interviewing can be found by participating in mock interviews through InterviewStream.
Important Things to Consider?
- Paid vs. unpaid: Not all companies offer paid internships, so it’s important to give some thought to whether or not you can participate in an unpaid internship. For-profit organizations typically pay interns $10-25 per hour based on the value of the project to the organization, your experience, your education level, etc. Non-profit organizations typically pay slightly less, in the $8-$15 per hour range. However, pay will vary by organization. If you are offered a particularly valuable experience, keep in mind that the experience you gain and the connections you make may be more valuable than the pay you are offered.
- Credit vs. non-credit: Some students may opt to receive academic credit for their internship. Please contact your Advisor for more information about receiving academic credit. Some employers may require students to obtain academic credit. International students are required to obtain academic credit for internships.
- Time of year: Be thinking about the best time of year for you to participate in an internship. Most internships are offered during the summer, but internships are also available during the fall and spring semesters. Please keep in mind your class schedule as you are thinking about the best time of year to do an internship.
- Location: Try not to let location restrict you when you are searching for internships. There are fantastic internship opportunities located throughout the U.S. as well as abroad. This might be an excellent time to test out another location that you’re interested in. But consider your geographic limitations, if you have any, and then focus your internship search on companies in those locations.
- Housing: If you are pursuing internship opportunities outside of your home area, think about your housing options and where you will live. This is especially important for those students seeking internships within North Carolina but outside of the Triad area, or outside of North Carolina.
- Part-time vs. Full-time: How much time will you be able to dedicate to an internship? The number of work hours often times is dependent on the employer and the projects they have available for interns. Ideally summer internships will be full-time (30-40 hours per week). Some employers may offer full-time internships during the fall and spring terms, as well. Employers may offer part-time internships (10-20 hours per week), too. It is important to discuss the hours required with the employer. Remember to take your class schedule into consideration when discussing hours with your employer.
- Transportation: For most students seeking internships, transportation will be required. If you do not have your own mode of transportation, please consider how this will impact decisions you make regarding internships. For most employers, it will be important that their student interns have reliable transportation and will be able to get to work each day.
Let Us Know Where You’re Interning
The Bryan School is very interested in hearing about where our students are interning. We request that all Bryan School students participating in internships, whether for-credit or not-for-credit and paid or unpaid, report their internships to the Bryan School so that we can better track where our students are working and how many of our students are participating in internships. This information is also required by AACSB and is used in UNCG and Bryan School annual reports.
MBA, MSITM, and Graduate Certificate Program students are asked to complete the Report an Internship Form. Click here to complete the online form. Bryan students in all other programs and majors should submit their internship information to their academic department. Contact your academic department if you have questions.