The Basics

Types of Internships

What Are the Different Types of Internships?

When referring to types of internships, most can be categorized according to four basic dimensions:

  1. Time of year. Internships tend to run the duration of an academic semester or quarter (although they can run longer), or over a summer or winter break. Therefore, based on the time of year, the basic types of internships are semester internships, quarterly internships, summer internships, fall internships, spring internships, and holiday or winter internships (i.e. over a winter break).

  2. Industry. Internship programs are also classified by industry; this usually corresponds with the interns' majors. While there are obviously hundreds of possibilities, some of the most common include marketing internships, advertising internships, finance internships, entertainment industry internships, legal internships, technology internships, fashion internships, PR internships, and publishing internships.

  3. Paid versus unpaid internships. There are legal ramifications—and blurred lines—regarding whether it is permissible to employ interns without pay (most depend on meeting the legal definition of "intern"). For now, however, it's sufficient to say that paid internships and unpaid internships are another method of classification.

  4. Credit versus no-credit internships. For-credit internships and not-for-credit internships is another type of categorization, as it's a common misconception that internships are always in exchange for college or university credit.

    In actuality, internships can be part of academic coursework; however, they can also be part of an individual's extracurricular plan to gain experience. When an internship is performed in exchange for college credit, the assigning of credit is strictly between the student and his or her school.

  5. Location. Since internship programs are commonly posted online (and garner submissions from around the globe), internships are also referred to by the city in which they are located. Examples of location-classified internships are New York internships, Los Angeles internships, Washington DC internships, Chicago internships, and San Francisco internships, among many others. (Another option is "virtual" or offsite internships, learn more about those here.)

    While there are various types of internships, all share one common denominator: The student strives to meet certain learning objectives. Such objectives are often formally reflected upon and evaluated by both the student and the internship supervisor.