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Internships

Work-related experience is an essential part of your career development. Employers like to hire graduates who not only have the necessary educational background in their field of study, but also have experience applying that knowledge to real life situations.

By definition, an internship is a carefully monitored work or volunteer experience with intentional learning goals. It is temporary work that helps you:

      • Build self-confidence, knowledge and professionalism
      • Expand your professional network
      • Demonstrate your initiative and skills to prospective employers and graduate schools

At KU, internships may be taken for credit or not-for-credit. Each of these opportunities takes place in the work environment and provides valuable hands-on experience. The eligibility and application processes are outlined below.

Credit-Based Internships

Not-for-Credit Internships

Student initiates process with the academic department. Student initiates process with the employer.
May be required or voluntary depending on the academic department. Always voluntary.
Internship and learning goals are approved and monitored by a KU faculty member and registration in an internship type course is required. Internship and learning goals are arranged through agreement between the student and the employer. No credit is earned and the university does not monitor the internship.
Eligibility varies with each major/academic department and may be determined by class standing, GPA and other factors. Check with your academic department or faculty advisor for specific requirements.  Students who have skills to offer an employer may seek internships at any time from freshman through senior year. In some cases, students may opt for a post-graduation internship to gain additional experience.
May be completed in fall, spring, or summer depending on academic department policies. May be completed in fall, spring, or summer depending on the employer's needs.
Is documented on official transcript and should be noted on student's resume. Should be noted on student's resume. There is no notation on the student's official transcript.


KU Resources and Services

Getting Internships and Related Experience Guidebook
This guidebook addresses all your questions regarding the various types of internships, preparing for them, finding and applying for internships, making the most of your experience, as well as resume and interviewing tips.

Finding Internships Info Session
How can you gain related experience? Discover the ways to find internships and differentiate yourself from other candidates-the competition! Find the answers to these and other internship questions. Check Schedule of Events for specific dates and times.


Preparing for an Internship

Determine what skills and knowledge you have to offer an employer
The first step in securing an internship is determining what workplace skills and knowledge you have to offer an employer. Understanding your unique strengths and qualifications will help you to prepare an effective resume and cover letter and prepare for an interview.

        • Transferable skills are talents that you acquired through your coursework, campus activities, employment, volunteer work and leisure time activities. These talents can translate into marketable qualifications for an internship. Click here for a transferable skills worksheet. 
        • Career tests are another way for you to understand your strengths, workplace values and interest. Click here for more information.
        • Remember, you can continue to develop transferable skills through participation in other experience building activities. Click here for more information.

Determine what you want to gain from the experience
Determine what you want to learn and what experience you want to gain through an internship. For some students this means working close to a professional who is performing the work they would like to do or working in an organization or environment in which they would like to work in the future. Either way, you need to think about the type of experience you would like to have. Here are some questions you should be able to answer prior to searching for an internship.

        • What are my career objectives?
        • How will this internship help me further those goals?
        • What skills or knowledge do I want to gain?
        • Talk with your faculty advisor or meet with a Career Development staff member to help you clarify the type of experience you would like to have.

Create/update your resume and cover letter
Create or update your resume and write a targeted cover letter for your internship search. Be sure to mention your transferable skills. Click here for information on creating an effective resume.

Secure References
Secure references for your internship search. Most employers will request that you provide contact information for several individuals who will provide recommendations for you. These individuals should be able to speak positively about your qualifications and attributes that you will bring to the workplace. Professors and supervisors of current or past employment or volunteer work typically can speak best to these qualifications. Before you can list an individual as a reference, you must get expressed permission from the individual. 

Prepare for Interviewing
Prepare for interviewing. Interviewing well is an essential component to making a good impression and securing an internship. It is a chance for both you and the employer to determine whether this position is a good fit. Click here for more information on interviewing.

Online Interview Practice - Using a webcam and microphone, you can practice interviewing online, record your practice interview and submit it to the Career Development Center for review and feedback through KU Career Network (KUCN). Please keep in mind that the turnaround time for this service varies throughout the semester. Click here to log-into KUCN.

Face-to-Face Interview Practice - Each semester the CDC sponsors Mock Interview Mania Week for juniors and seniors to practice interviewing face-to-face with an employer. Students are interviewed for approximately 20 minutes and then spend another 10 minutes receiving tips and feedback for improvement from the employer. In order to participate you must sign-up for a Mock Interview in Stratton 113 and submit a resume. Click here for dates and deadlines.


Searching for Internship Opportunities

There are many resources for finding internship opportunities. Remember, that networking (talking to others about your interests and qualifications) is by far the best method for learning about and securing internship experiences.

    1. Networking - Utilize all your contacts by informing them of your desire to intern, about your career goals and interests, as well as reminding them of your skills and experience. Contact everyone: past teachers, family, friends, faculty, supervisors and classmates. Interact face-to-face, over the phone, or through social media. Remember to monitor how you present yourself digitally; clean up all your photos, postings, and online profiles to reflect a professional image. To create a professional networking profile on LinkedIn please visit: Building a Great Student Profile.
    2. KU Career Network (KUCN) - KU Career Network is the primary online resource for preparing and connecting students and alumni with employers. In addition to accessing job and internship postings, students can find employer profiles, career resources and information about CDC job fairs, events and workshops. Click here to log into KUCN. 
    3. Internship & Job Fairs - Internship and Job Fairs are your chance to shake hands, get your resume out and converse with employers. Click here for more information on KU Internship and Job Fairs.
    4. Internship Websites and Posting Boards - There are many great websites that contain valuable information on conducting your internship search as well as leads on internship opportunities. Many of these sites will require you to register. It is essential that you maintain your account and keep the information and your resume up-to-date. Click here for a list of internship related resources.
    5. Employer Websites - If you know where you want to intern, review the employer's website, particularly the "Careers" or "Employment" pages to determine if the organization already has an internship program. If not, consider contacting the human resources department or hiring manager to inquire if they would consider hosting an intern. Be sure to communicate your skills, how you can contribute to their organization and how working with them would relate to your career interests. Click here for Sample Letter of Inquiry
    6. Utilizing Chamber of Commerce websites is a great way to learn more about employers in a particular geographic area that relate to your career interests. While all chamber of commerce sites differ in their layout, look for links to a "Membership Directory" or "Business Directory", then search by business type or category to identify employers in your field of interest. Links to chamber sites in other regions can be located by performing an online search.

Handling Internship Offers

Hopefully, with a well executed internship search, you will have an offer or two from prospective employers. Thoughtfully consider each offer in terms of your career goals and learning outcomes. Consider these questions:

        • Which organization fits your personal interests/needs the best?
        • Are your abilities suited to the organization/position?
        • How well does the project/assignment relate to your career and academic goals?
        • Do the co-workers and supervisor appear to be enthusiastic and supportive toward interns?
        • Does the general work atmosphere (employee morale, dress) appeal to you?
        • How much responsibility will you have?
        • Will the internship offer valuable experience?

If you are earning credit for your internship be sure to discuss your options with your advisor or departmental internship coordinator.

While you will have some time to consider your options, it is important that you confirm your intent (accept/decline offer) in writing. 

Making the Most of Your Internship

Now that you have an internship, you want to make the most of it. For many students an internship is their first experience working in a professional setting. Observing and learning the corporate culture is all part of the experience. 

        • Attire is an essential element and will impact the way you will be viewed in your position. Organization dress codes often tell you what not to wear, but not what to wear. Observe what others are wearing. What does your supervisor wear? What do your peers wear? Always dress more professionally at the beginning of the internship until you are clear about the office climate.
        • Professional etiquette means that you act professionally and demonstrate good manners in the workplace. Proper etiquette is a valuable skill set that will help you stand out from others, enhance your chance for success, and help you land your dream job. Click here for tips on internship etiquette.

Ending the Internship

    1. Meet with your supervisor to review your work and transition any projects. Offer to assist the organization in marketing the internship to other students. Ask your supervisor to serve as a reference and write a recommendation letter for you.
    2. Write a thank you letter to your site supervisor and faculty advisor (if you receive credit).  
    3. Assess the knowledge, skills and abilities that you have developed at your internship and update your resume based upon your experiences and projects.
    4. Make a list of what you liked and disliked about your position and use this list to explore future internship and job opportunities. Redefine your career goals based upon your experience and clarify how your internship relates to these goals.
    5. Reflect upon the work environment, organizational structure, location, atmosphere - what will you look for in the future? Reflect upon your values and attitudes about work and how they correlate with those of the organization.
    6. Think about how specific experiences at your internship will be excellent examples to offer employers during the interviewing process.
KU Career Network
Click here to visit GoinGlobal
The Washington Center for Internships