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Internship Details

What is an internship?

An internship is an opportunity for you to get hands-on experience in a career field of interest to you and to further develop your skills. Doing an internship enables you to connect the knowledge and skills you have gained from your academics and apply them in a work setting. Doing an internship enables you to draw from your work experiences to inform what you are learning in the classroom.

In addition, internships let you:

  • determine if you enjoy working in a specific career field
  • get an insider's look at different employers
  • make those important professional networking connections with people who may hire you in the future or be able to refer you to people who are able to hire you
  • strengthen your application to graduate programs
  • Another important aspect of internships is that they help you begin to develop the skills you'll need for a successful transition from student to professional.
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What will I do on an internship?

That all depends on:

  • what you hope to get out of the experience
  • what skills and knowledge you bring to the internship
  • expectations your faculty advisor will have if you are doing the internship for credit
  • expectations of your internship site supervisor
  • the type of organization where you're doing your internship
  • the number of hours a week you spend at your internship

What you will get out of your internship is a learning experience - one where you will polish your existing skills and develop new skills. You'll also get an edge on the competition when it comes to securing employment.

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What kind of internship should I do?

Well, that depends...if you are doing an internship as part of your academic program, there will be certain requirements your internship will need to meet regarding the internship site as well as the types of tasks you will do as an intern. To get a better understanding of what those requirements might be, refer to the course catalog and speak with your academic advisor.

If you are considering doing a not-for-credit internship, it's entirely up to you. First, determine why you want to do the internship:

  • To test your interest in different career fields?
  • To gain experience in the field in which you are interested?
  • To develop professional connections?

Your reasons for doing a not-for-credit internship will help determine the kinds of internships you may want to do. A good place to begin this conversation is with a career counselor.

To make an appointment with a career counselor, stop by Craig-Lee 054 or call 456-8031.

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How many hours a semester do I need to commit to an internship?

The number of hours you will need to complete on-site at your internship will vary.

If your internship is for credit, the number of hours you will need to complete on-site at your internship will depend upon how many credits you will receive for the internship as well as departmental requirements. Consult with your academic advisor to confirm what will be expected of you. Additionally, the internship site itself may require a minimum number of hours per week as well.

If your internship is not for credit, the number of hours you will need to complete on site at your internship will vary depending upon how many hours you have available and how many hours may be required by the internship site. You may be expected to put in as few as 8 hours per week, as many as 15 or more, or something in between.

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When should I do an internship?

There are lots of things to take into consideration as you decide when to do your internship. If you are a new student, we recommend that you wait until you've become accustomed to being at RIC and taking college level courses. Are you comfortably balancing coursework, homework, employment, extracurricular activities, and anything else with which you might be involved?

If the internship is part of your academic program, review the curriculum requirements for your major and meet with your academic advisor to discuss when he or she recommends you do your internship. Often it is important that you have taken specific courses and have developed certain skills before you take on an internship. Your advisor will be able to provide important input as to the strategic timing of your internship.

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How do I get an internship?

How you "get an internship" will depend upon whether you are doing a for-credit or not-for-credit internship. Academic programs may help you secure an approved site if you are doing your internship for credit. If you are doing a not-for-credit internship, you will secure your own internship because you have to "select" the internship position and the employer has to select you as their intern of choice. However, there are many resources available at RIC to help you along the way. Some of these resources include:

  • Listings available through the Career Development Center
  • Contacts through faculty and your department
  • Networking with classmates

Other resources you may choose to tap include:

  • Print and online job postings
  • Conversation with current employer to determine if an internship opportunity might be created at work
  • Networking with family, friends, friend of friends, etc. to see what ideas they may have for you

If you are doing an internship for-credit, it will be important to speak with your academic advisor to be certain that the site you choose will provide you with the learning necessary to get credit.

If you are doing a not-for-credit internship, it's a good idea to speak with your academic advisor or a career counselor about what you want to get out of the internship and whether a particular site will provide that opportunity.

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How do I choose an internship site?

There are many factors you'll want to take into consideration when selecting an internship site, the most important being whether the site will give you the experience you are looking for. Students who do their internships for credit will likely have input from their department about what constitutes an approved site.

Be sure to ask your academic advisor to help you review potential sites to determine whether they are a good fit based upon your academic requirements and professional objectives and meet departmental requirements.

If getting credit is not your goal, you may be thinking about internship opportunities very differently. We encourage you to meet with a career counselor to help strategize which sites might help you best meet your objectives.

Regardless of whether or not you plan to get credit for your internship, here are some additional things to consider when selecting a site:

  • Accessibility - can I get there?
  • Hours - how do they fit with my other commitments?
  • Responsibilities - do I have the skills to do the job and will I learn new things to move my career forward?
  • Contacts - will I be able to expand my professional network?

A career counselor, your academic advisor, or a faculty member working in the area in which you plan to pursue your internship can help you begin answer these questions.

Make an appointment by stopping by Craig-Lee 054 or calling 456-8031.

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How do I get credit for doing an internship?

Once you have determined that your academic program of study provides the opportunity to take on an internship for credit, confirm with your advisor what the process is for getting credit and what supporting documents you may have to complete before, during, and after your internship.

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Can I do an internship even if I don't get credit?

Yes, not all internships are done for credit. You may not need or want the credit, but want the specific experience. RIC may not be able to issue credit for the particular experience if it does not fit academically within any of our programs, but the experience is still of value to you.

Some internship sites are not able to take on interns unless they are receiving credit for the experience. Be certain to check this out directly with the internship site.

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Are internships paid?

Some are and some aren't. Remember - the key to an internship is that you come away with experience that will let you move your career forward.

Some employers may call positions "internships" when they are in fact entry level jobs and are compensated at entry level pay. When considering these opportunities, look beyond the pay and ask: "what will I learn?" If you believe you will learn new skills related to your career field of choice, as well as develop important professional contacts, this may be a good opportunity to pursue.

If you are doing an internship for credit, confirm with your department whether you are allowed to be paid for the experience.

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I don't have time to do an internship unless I can get paid or get credit - what can I do?

We realize that many RIC students work AND attend classes making it a challenge to find time to do an internship especially if there is no credit or pay attached.

The Career Development Center staff believes that getting experience is critical for making good career decisions and moving your career forward! In fact, many employers look first to hire students who have done internships. If this is not a good time for you to do an internship for which you won't be getting credit or pay, maybe there are other ways you can get experience and develop skills a prospective employer will find attractive. Ideas include

  • Taking on a leadership role in a campus club or activity (this should be a link to student activities)
  • Volunteering in your community
  • Finding a different job - perhaps one related to your career or where you can learn new skills
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I have this great idea for an internship - can I do it?

This is exciting! You clearly know the value of getting experience and are motivated to make that happen. Chances are you will be able "to do" it even if it is not for credit.

If you hope to do it for credit, here are some things to consider:

  • Academic requirements - you will have to confirm that your academic program allows you to get credit for an internship and that what you want to do meets academic requirements
  • Potential sites - do you know of specific places that are willing to take you on as an intern - discuss with your academic advisor if the site meets set criteria
  • A plan - you will need to have developed a plan in advance that reflects what the internship site supervisor expects from you as well as what your academic advisor expects from you. The plan may include: work responsibilities, hours per week or semester, and academic project to go along with your on-the-internship responsibilities.
  • Time - does it fit into your schedule of academics, work, and whatever else you might be involved in?
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If I do an internship, will the company hire me full-time?

If you do a good job for the company and there is a related, appropriate opening, your chances or being hired are better than those of external candidates.

Research tells us that the majority of employers make full-time hires from candidates who have worked for their organizations as interns, co-op students, summer or part-time employees. Previous knowledge of a candidate makes their hiring relatively risk free because they have had the opportunity to become acquainted with the candidate, observe work habits and abilities, and get a sense of how the candidate "fits" with their organization.

Something to consider carefully - don't make your selection of an internship site solely on the chance that it may turn into full-time employment. Your goal is to get the best experience possible to help move your career forward. That may or may not be with an organization able to offer you full-time employment at your internship's end.

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How many internships can I do?

There is no formal limit to how many internships you can do. There may be a limit as to how many you can do and get academic credit. Have this conversation with your academic advisor.

There may be a reasonable "limit" as to how many you can do while studying, working, being involved in extracurricular activities, etc. and doing them all well. Again, your academic advisor or a career counselor can help you decide what's best for you based upon your career goals and current commitments.

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What is a site supervisor?

A site supervisor is a person who works at the organization where you are doing your internship who is responsible for you as an intern. Your site supervisor will help determine what your responsibilities will be, supervise you when you are at your internship, and provide support you may need as you develop new skills or need assistance problem solving. Additionally your site supervisor will be responsible for evaluating your work.

You will find that your site supervisor will become one of your important professional contacts when you need a recommendation or seek to expand your network.

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Who can advise me about internships?

Your academic advisor. Faculty members. A career counselor. Because there are so many questions to consider as you begin to think about internships, we strongly encourage you to speak with the people most knowledgeable about them.

If you plan to do a for credit internship, we strongly encourage you to begin your conversation with your academic advisor.

If you plan to do a not-for-credit internship, consider beginning the conversation with someone who is both knowledgeable and who already knows you - perhaps your academic advisor, another faculty member or a career counselor.

To make an appointment with a career counselor, stop by Craig-Lee 054 or calling 456-8031.

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Page last updated: March 19, 2008