How to Find an Internship

Internships for Students, Grads, and Career Changers

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An internship is a pre-professional work experience that provides students, recent graduates, and those seeking to change careers with the opportunity to gain experience in a particular career field. For students, internships also supplement academic classes and, in some cases, earn college credit.

For recent graduates and individuals considering a career change, an internship is a way to try a new job without making a permanent commitment.

An internship is a way to test the waters in a variety of career fields, to gain "real-life" experience, and a way to decide on - or opt out - of a certain vocation.

How to Find Internship Listings

Your college's Career Services or Internship Programs office is a terrific resource to use to line up an internship. Visit them on on campus or check out their online resources when classes aren't in session. The office can direct you to internships targeted specifically towards students from your college.

How Students Get Internships

Your school isn't the only way to find an internship. Most students who responded to the question “If you have ever had a summer internship, how did you get your interview?” in LendEDU's 2017 Internship Report found an internship by using their connections. Here's a recap:

  • Family connections -  43 percent
  • I found it myself on the internet - 31 percent
  • College Career Center - 21 percent
  • Found through involvement in extracurricular activity - 5 percent

A large majority of the students surveyed said that connections were the most important factor when lining up an internship:

  • Connections - 91%
  • Grades - 9%

Internships for Graduates

If you're a recent graduate looking for some work experience or are interested in a career change, consider an internship to get an insider's view of a new career field.

It will allow you to gain experience and to decide if this is something you really want to do. Plan your internship search just as you would a job search, but, specify when you apply that you're interested in an internship rather than a permanent position.

Using the keyword search component of the major online jobs databases and searching for "intern" or "internship" or "post-graduate internship" is a way to generate internship leads.

Be sure to check with your college's career and alumni offices to see if they provide internship and job listings to graduates.

If it works out, you may even be able to turn a post-graduate internship into a full-time job.

Use Your Network

Need more leads? Speak with teachers, family, former employers, coaches, friends, parents of friends - anyone and everyone you can think of - and ask for contacts in your geographic and/or career fields of interest. Meet with (or email or call) these individuals for information about careers and advice about conducting your internship search. Read our guide to Informational Interviews for how to get started.

Internship Logistics

Now for the logistics. Internships can be paid or unpaid. It is important to check with the company before you take the position to determine if there is a salary, a stipend or no compensation.

Academic credit is a possibility for many internships. However, the internship will need to be approved for credit by your college and you may need a faculty sponsor. The internship sponsor must also agree to supervise and evaluate the internship experience. In many, cases there are school deadlines for applying for credit, so check soon with the appropriate department at your institution.

It makes good sense to have a clear idea of what's expected from you and what you expect from the employer before you start the internship. Discuss the details and the logistics with the internship sponsor before you start, so the internship will be a positive experience for both you and the company.

More About Internships: When to Apply for an Internship | Internship Cover Letter Sample