Learn the Basics About Internships

Updated: September 3, 2020

Getting Course Credit

  1. Course credit: Some internships, both paid and unpaid, offer course credit for your participation. Separately, some college courses may require that you complete an internship to receive credit for that class. If it’s not explicit in the course description, then talk with the professor of the class. He/she may be willing to work with you and find a way to tie the internship into your coursework.

    Your academic dean or the Career Center on campus are other places you can ask about getting course credit for internships. This would be the path to take if you’re hoping an internship will offer a full class credit versus working in conjunction with a class you are already taking.

    Finally, the internship itself may offer the information you need about class credit. The company will need to be involved with the credit process regardless, so touch base with the hiring manager to ask any questions about how the company can work with you and your school in this matter.

  2. Paid or unpaid: Money is one of the first things many students consider when thinking about applying for an internship. The money piece will impact many other decisions, and it can help to think about this before you jump into the application process.

    If an internship does not offer a salary, then you need to make sure you can live without that money for the duration. This can impact where you apply for internships—can you find cheap or even free housing? Will your family help with rounding out your budget? Can you work a second job that will let you earn some extra money? Can you plan ahead and save the money you will need to live on while you are an intern?

    The details may sound daunting, but the finances don’t have to be a deal breaker. If there is an unpaid internship that you have to have, it’s worth it to speak with the company about your financial situation. Some companies may have suggestions for working around a budget–housing possibilities, offerings other than money, i.e. particular hours that would allow you to find a short-term paying job. Don’t skip an experience that may be a chance of a lifetime, but have a plan, and be ready to address financial concerns before you invest too much of your time (or their time) into the application process.

    If the internship of your dreams is a paid internship, that is great. Work hard during the application process, and prepare to set up a budget that allows you to accept the internship and live on the salary offered.

  3. Length of an internship: Most internships last about 10 weeks to three months—or the duration of one semester or quarter. However, the answer to “How long is an internship?” can also be dictated by the duration of a school break; for instance, summer and winter internships are common, and take place over the course of a summer or winter vacation.

    Internships are traditionally a one-time experience. It is not completely uncommon, however, for a student to take part in more than one internship at the same company. In this case, the internships may be during back-to-back semesters or even over the course of consecutive summers. It is also possible that a student might complete an internship only to be rehired during a later semester or quarter.

    The bottom line is that the length of an internship can really be anything that is agreeable to both the student and the setting.