It is never too early to begin thinking about lining up an internship. Some students are offered jobs at the end of their internships and your internship can be a springboard to many opportunities and a bright future.
If you are doing an internship to explore a particular type of job, it might be best to take it earlier rather than later in your college course work. This way, if you find out it is not what you expected or want to do, you can do another type of internship.
You need to strategically plan your internship. Why are you doing an internship? Do you want to try to get a job as a result of the internship? Do you just want to try different things to get an idea of what you want to do? Answering these questions will help you decide when and where to do an internship during your college career.
You may also choose to do more than one internship. Internships are 2-5 units and undergraduate students can complete up to 10 units of internship credits toward the major as long as they have electives available. It's important to check with your advisor about when and how many internships you might want to do and can do.
There are many ways to locate an internship. Internships are available in most industries ranging from Business, Government, Non-Profit Agencies, Education and the Entertainment Industry.
Coyotelink is your one-stop resource for locating an internship and is exclusively for CSUSB students. Registering for an account grants you instant access to hundreds of opportunities. You will have the availability to search for local internships by zip code. Check out the CSUSB Career Development Center for step-by-step instructions on how to create your free Coyotelink account today!
You can locate an internship by researching specific company websites. Internships are typically posted just as full-time positions would be. The websites in the "Local Internships" are just some examples.
Websites focusing on a specific industry can provide you with access to multiple internship listing all at once. For example check out Entertainment Careers, Fin Box, and Idealist to see the many possibilities in your field of interest.
In some cases, students have identified a specific organization in which they want to experience an internship. Going directly to the organization and inquiring within has proven to be an effective strategy.
Have you heard the saying "it's not what you know, but who you know?" Nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to securing an internship. Networking is one of the leading methods. For example, Communication Studies students interested in public relations might attend the monthly local Public Relations Society of America chapter luncheons so they meet professionals in their field. These individuals might be recruiting interns. Networking can be a very effective strategy for finding an internship, but it takes time to develop contacts. It is rare that a student attends one meeting, meets someone, and is offered an internship instantly. It takes time and effort to develop professional connections.
Applying for an internship is a process. Before you get started, there are a few important steps that you should follow. Having an updated resume and cover letter are essential. You can reference the Career Development Center for tips on how to create effective ones. Not all employers require a cover letter but it's a good idea to have one readily available that can easily be tailored to various positions. It is also recommended that you identify several internship leads and apply to at least 3-5 internships per week. Don't forget to follow up. An email or phone call is appropriate unless otherwise stated on the internship announcement.
If employers do not require a resume and/or cover letter, instead, you may be instructed to fill out an application online or in person. Whatever the method of applying may be, make sure to read the internship announcement carefully. If you are invited to an interview, take the time to prepare and practice. Do your research about the organization. You only get one chance at making a great first impression. For interviewing tips, check out the CSUSB Career Development Center website.
The major purpose of an internship is to provide students with the opportunity to gain new insights about an organization and a job and to develop skills they haven't had the opportunity to develop in a previous job. An internship also provides students with the opportunity to see the application of course material in theory in practice in a job setting, and students are encouraged to bring their internship experiences back into the classroom.
Internships are an academic experience - not just work experience. In your internship paper you are expected to draw relationships between what you learned in the classroom and what you observed and experienced in the internship.
Internships are important resume material in competitive job markets where actual work experience is valued and often expected. Graduate internships can be valuable research experiences that can be tied into final projects.
It is important to select an appropriate internship. One way to determine if an internship is appropriate is to consider how it ties in with your major and concentration. An internship should be a new challenge and one that "fits" with educational goals.
Another important purpose of an internship is to give students the opportunity to try out a potential job or career. Perhaps you think you'd like television news production. An internship experience will tell you if this is the type of work you really want to do. Perhaps you are planning a public relations career. An internship will give you valuable insight into what it is like to work in the field.
In some professions, internships are expected by potential employers. This is particularly true in public relations. You will be competing with others for entry-level jobs who have completed an internship so if you have not done an internship, you are at a disadvantage. This is also true of many communication jobs.
Registration and Contract Requirements
Internships can be taken for 2-5 units. The number of units dictates the number of hours during the quarter you are to work at the internship. The hours you are to work are specified what you must do to get credit for doing your internship.
If you have obtained an internship, undergraduates must pick up the contract from the department internship coordinator. Graduate students can pick up the contract from the graduate coordinator, Dr. Ahlam Muhtaseb (UH 201.23). Discuss the hours and responsibilities with the supervisor. Once you have agreed upon the nature of the work and the hours, complete the contract, including the supervisor's signature. Submit the contract to the department internship supervisor for final approval. For graduate students, the final approval comes from the graduate coordinator. All this must be completed the quarter prior to the quarter in which you actually do the internship. Once the contract is approved, you will be notified and permitted to register for the units.
To receive credit for your internship, you must:
- Complete the total hour requirement for the units for which you have registered;
- Submit a weekly log/journal of your internship experience;
- Write a final paper describing what you learned during your internship experience and discussing how the experience relates to your education;
- Undergraduates must prepare resumes. Resumes should be prepared prior to obtaining internships, but if not, they must be turned in before the quarter ends;
- Additionally, the department will send an agency evaluation form to your internship supervisor. The supervisor must complete and return the form to the department before you received credit for the internship.
- These materials are due by Tuesday of finals week. Turn them in to the department internship coordinator.
Here are a few guidelines to follow so that you make the best impression at your internship.
- Be on time. If you are to arrive at 1:00 p.m., arrive at 1:00 p.m., not 1:10 p.m. If you are unavoidably detained (accident, flat tire, etc.) and you are able, call your supervisor to let him/her know what happened.
- Dress appropriately. On your first day, it's always best to dress in business attire. If you're not sure of what is considered appropriate business attire, ask the internship coordinator, or ask your internship supervisor what she or he prefers you wear to the office.
- Meet the hour requirement of your internship. If you are to complete 15 hours per week, then make sure you complete 15 hours per week. Failure to complete the hours required for the units taken can result in no credit for the internship. You have made a contractual obligation with your internship supervisor to work a certain number of hours. Failure to do this reflects on your professionalism.
- Think and act as a professional - be responsible and dependable.
Remember that you are there to learn. People always respect those who are teachable.
If you are having problems of any kind at your internship, please contact the department internship coordinator if you are an undergraduate student or the graduate coordinator if you are a graduate student.
Good luck and good learning.