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. An internship is a legitimate learning experience for the student and not simply an operational work experience conducted by a student. (NACE, National Association of Colleges and Employers)

When to Look for an Internship

Most employers will begin searching and accepting applications for summer interns during the Fall semester of the year prior, and a few will continue searching through the beginning of Spring semester.

If you choose to wait until Spring semester to look for an internship, make sure your applications are turned in before Spring Break, as many organization fill their opportunities around February.

Note: Currently, there are no industry-specific standards or deadlines for getting an internship. If a summer internship is not what you are looking for, you can also pursue internships with less traditional timeframes and hours. Just be open with employers, let them know your needs and ask if they would be willing to hire an intern for work during the semester.

Where to Look for Internships

  1. Network with local companies and connections
  2. Attend Career Fairs
  3. Job Boards
    1. Handshake
    2. LinkedIn

The Law of Unpaid Internships

When possible, it is always best to take a paid internship opportunity. However, in the event that an unpaid internship is offered, here are some guidelines to follow to make sure you are being protected and treated fairly.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a statement with a new “primary beneficiary” test to determine if a student can be classified as an unpaid intern. It is a non-exhaustive list of factors to determine who the primary beneficiary of the internship is. The test can be found here.

The DOL says that if examination of these circumstances reveals that an intern or student is an employee, then he or she is entitled to both minimum wage and overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). However, if the analysis of the circumstances confirms that the intern or student is not an employee, then he or she is not entitled to either minimum wage or overtime pay under the FLSA.

If You Need Help Looking for an Internship

If you are looking for more information on internships, need help with your resume/cover letter or internship application materials, want practice interviewing, are looking to create an internship search strategy, or if you are interested in more specific internship information related to your program of study, please contact Career and Employment Services at (608) 243-4598 or sends e-mail). Our office has two internship advisors, one that specializes in internships for our technical programs, and one who specializes in internships for our Liberal Arts programs.