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Internship Basics

Defining "Internship"

What’s the difference between a summer job, internship, and a summer learning experience?
  • Summer Jobs: Summer jobs are paid work positions that fill a service-based need, and typically do not require a Bachelor’s degree. Examples: summer camp counselor, retail sales associate, waiter/waitress, lifeguard, etc.
  • Internships: Internships incorporate projects that require greater amounts of responsibility and offer opportunities to attain knowledge and skills relevant to that specific industry, in addition to clerical work. Interns are typically supervised by staff trained and skilled in the profession. These positions can be paid or unpaid, and full-time or part-time.
  • Career Exploration Activities: In addition to internships and summer jobs, students can explore a career field and gain skills and experience through volunteerism, travel, job shadowing/ observation, informational interviews, academic courses, and study abroad. Many students use non-internship experiences to reveal their interests and build the skills necessary to land an internship, or entry-level job, or to round out a resume.

Importance of Internships

You’ve heard everyone talk about the significance of internships. Why so much hype?

Employers and graduate programs now expect competitive candidates to amass a minimum of two significant experiences (internships, research, collegiate athletics, volunteer work) by the point at which you apply for a post-graduate option.  These experiences demonstrate your commitment and interest to a specific career field.

For liberal arts students especially, internships are also important because they allow you to:
  • Gain insight on your career direction. Internships allow you to explore potential areas of interest and can alert you to career fields that you haven’t yet considered or are not represented in your academic coursework.
  • Test out different work environments. Evaluate a variety of office cultures and settings to determine your best fit.
  • Build your resume and develop industry-specific skills and experiences to better qualify you for more advanced positions down the road.
  • Shape and grow your professional network.
  • Practice the job search process.
Still have questions about what an internship is or why it’s important? Make an Appointment with a career advisor.