Understanding the term

“An internship is a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Internships give students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths; and give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent.” --National Association of Colleges and Employers

The presence of the word "internship" in a job title does not inherently signify that the job will support your professional development. For an internship to be more than just a fancy sounding student job, it must include structured learning opportunities and professional mentorship. Read on for more guidance on what characteristics to seek out in an internship.

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6 Fundamentals
4 Employer questions
10 Warning signs

6 Fundamentals for every internship

When you are reading the internship job posting, look for the following components, which indicate a well developed intern position:

  • Position is clearly defined and related to your academic coursework and/or professional goals
  • Job responsibilities are similar to those of entry level employees with a bachelor's degree; tasks should require critical thinking and complex problem solving
  • Training and orientation to the job and company provided when the internship begins with additional training opportunities offered as needed
  • Opportunities to assist and shadow other professional staff on their projects and tasks and eventually coordinate your own
  • Frequent guidance and feedback provided by a professional with expertise and an educational or professional background in the field
  • Inclusion in the operations and happenings of the office through attendance at staff/department meetings, committee membership, etc. 
Planning to register for the business internship course (BUS:3100)?

Visit the course website to see the full list of enrollment criteria and steps to register

BUS:3100 course page 

4 Questions to ask the employer

Interviewing for an internship is your chance to learn more about the opportunity and make sure the experience is one that will benefit you. Conducting thorough online research into the company and asking thoughtful questions during the interview will help you evaluate the quality of the internship; before accepting a job offer, make sure you find answers to the following questions:

  • How will you be given feedback on your performance and guidance in your professional growth?
  • Which routine operations of the company or projects will you be involved in (meetings, committees, teams, etc.)?
  • What opportunities will you have to interact with individuals within the department and in other departments of the company?
  • How will the depth and/or breadth of your job responsibilities increase throughout the internship?

10 Warning signs to watch for 

Not all internships are created equal; increase your chances of finding a great one by recognizing potential issues early on. If you notice any of the following, be proactive, seek out support, and make sure you understand and feel comfortable with all the details before accepting an internship position: 

Job concerns

  • Vague job description that focuses on the perks of the experience, not specific details of the job
  • Mostly simple, repetitive tasks such as entering data on spreadsheets, cold calling, and distributing flyers
  • Supervision by an undergraduate student or by a distant contact person
  • Little to no collaboration with coworkers, most work is done independently

Company concerns

  • Details about the company are not easily accessible online or appear unreliable
  • Address of company or organization is unknown or is a residential address 
  • Requirement that you pay out of pocket for supplies or services prior to earning money

Safety concerns

These come up rarely, but if any of the following occur, contact the Pomerantz Career Center, the instructor of your internship course, and/or local police or University Public Safety

  • Requests for personal financial or identity information such as your bank account or social security number by anyone other than an HR representative setting up payroll 
  • Exposure to physical, chemical, or biological safety hazards
  • Discriminatory behavior or harassment from coworkers, supervisors, or anyone else in workplace

 

Tippie RISE internship courses
Register for an internship course to connect the experience to your academic and career goals and meet Tippie RISE. We'll help you set goals, overcome challenges, and track your accomplishments. 

Tippie RISE internship courses

Internship FAQs
We know you have lots of questions; you are not alone. Find the answers to the most commonly asked questions about internships and internship courses. If you can't find an answer you're looking for, let us know!

Internship FAQs 

Find the right fit
The Pomerantz Career Center has many resources to help you find an internship... get advice on your resume, meet with a career advisor, search on Hireahawk, and visit the job & internship fair.  

Search for an internship