An internship offers you a chance to learn and discover different areas of interest while you gain practical experience in the real working world. It can also help you decide if a particular field is one in which you want to pursue a career. These opportunities may be paid, volunteer, or for academic credit. With today’s job market being highly competitive, you will need to make yourself stand out amongst the rest. Students who have completed internships obtain employment more quickly following graduation.
Benefits of an Internship
- Learn more about a chosen field.
- Apply classroom theory to real work situations.
- Become more knowledgeable about general work functions in particular fields.
- Stimulate new interest in academic course work and frequently develop an interdisciplinary perspective.
- Gain an increased awareness of values, interests, personality, and skills.
- Identify transferable skills and/or test interests and talents.
- Investigate organizational cultures.
- Strengthen written and oral skills.
- Enhance and strengthen your resume.
- Make contacts to gain future employment.
- Bridge between college and work.
Strategies and Resources
Obtaining an internship is an involved process, and the students who find the most success are the ones who are diligent and thoughtful in their approach. A well-formulated strategy will help you achieve your goals.
The mistake many students make is to assume that the process of securing an internship ends when a resume is submitted. In fact, the process requires many more activities that should begin months in advance of anticipated start date. Internship strategies are individualized to each student. But, there are some activities that should be universal to all searches, including:
- Researching organizations
- Customizing each resume and cover letter to the position at hand
- Locating Lewis & Clark students who have interned with the company previously via the Lewis & Clark College Career Network (L&C Net)
- Networking with alums, faculty and other professionals
- Preparing in advance for an interview
- Being patient and resilient
The most effective internship search is one that incorporates multiple strategies. Often, the two most effective strategies are: using online databases and developing your personal network.
Online databases are the place to go to find open advertised positions including Handshake which is managed by the Career Center.
Networking is about building relationships and is a simple yet powerful way to search for an internship. Connect with Lewis & Clark alumni on the Lewis & Clark College Career Network (L&C Net).
Create Your Own Internship
If there is an organization where you’d like to work but you don’t think that it has an internship program, be proactive about creating your own opportunity.
- Begin by researching the organization thoroughly.
- Determine in advance why the organization should take you on as an intern, and what value you can add to its current work.
- What specific strengths, previous experience and transferable skills can you offer?
- Contact a person working in the area where you would like to be, and offer to work as an intern. A great place to start making connections is LinkedIn.
- If the organization is in the nonprofit or public sectors, let them know that it is possible you can get funding from a Lewis & Clark summer internship grant.
Internships for Academic Credit
Are you interested in earning academic credit for your internship? There are two ways to do that at LC, through your academic department or through the career center.
If you would like to receive credit from a specific department or towards your major, please check with your Academic Advisor and the Department you wish to receive credit from for specific information.
Alternatively, you can register for CDEV 145: Non-Departmental Internship Course taught by the Career Center. In this online course you can receive between 1-4 credits depending on the number hours you work at your internship and the amount of course work you will complete.
Making the Most of an Internship
Congratulations, you have secured an internship! Now that you have the position, it’s time to focus on how you can make the most of your time there and leave a lasting impression. Remember – the people you work with at your internship could be your future employers. Even if you never end up returning to work at the place you intern, the people you meet there can provide valuable job contacts and great recommendations.