Fort Hays State University > About FHSU > Division of Student Affairs > Internfaq
What is an internship? There are many types of experience that may be considered internships. Some are highly structured and others less formal. Some are very career specific while others allow students to develop more general skills. Some are more observational in nature while others are very "hands on." Some provide compensation, are for credit only, or are done on a volunteer basis. Why should I consider doing an internship? An internship helps you make the connections between theory and practice that will give you new insights into your education. An internship gives you a chance to test out potential major and career choices to determine whether they are a good fit for your skills, interests, values, and goals. Establishing your internship will help you develop the skills needed to execute a job search: resume and cover letter writing, interviewing, networking, and interpersonal communication. Finally, an internship helps you gain the experience and make the connections necessary for gaining an entry level position after graduation. It will "close the gap" between your academic studies and the "realize" working world. It will give you valuable practical experience in an applied setting, and it can get you a job! When should I start looking for an internship? Employers are expecting you to bring skills and knowledge to the workplace. Before you apply for an internship, you will need to develop those skills. Most students feel ready for an internship during their junior year. You may do your internship either during a semester or in the summer. Some employers are very specific regarding the class level and GPA requirement. Make sure you meet all the requirements before applying. Where can I do an internship? Anywhere you want! From Washington, KS to Washington, D.C., there are experiences available everywhere. Don't limit yourself to what you're familiar with. This is your opportunity to do some exploring and discover not only what it is that you want to do in your future, but also what sort of environment you'd like to live in. Are internships paid or unpaid? Some are paid, and some are unpaid. Students should consider the value of the academic learning experience they will gain when assessing the "value" of an internship. Students are usually always paid a competitive salary for internships. You may, however, locate a very special internship offering a unique experience, but at a lower salary. Remember, just because you don't receive a large paycheck doesn't mean the internship is not worth doing. Do you believe that the opportunity will benefit you in the long run? Will it benefit you enough to live with a lower-than-average salary for a little while? What will be your return on the time you invest? Check out your options before turning it down. Sometimes an outstanding internship location or a terrific experience with a special organization will more than offset a lesser salary. You have to be the judge. How long does an internship last? Traditionally, students participate in internships during the summer. While a valuable and meaningful internship doesn't have to meet time requirements, it should allow you adequate time to understand a process or acquire additional knowledge related to a particular career. How many internships should I do? As many as you can! Remember, EVERYONE does one (ok, maybe not everyone!). So be exceptional. Take advantage of as many experiences as you can. Multiple internships will prepare you well and could increase your starting salary! What can I gain as an intern? Not only do you gain experiences that look great on your resume, you also make some real connections. Holding a position in your field of interest, if only for a few weeks, allows you to see first hand what goes on. Consider it an audition for a career. You have not yet dedicated your entire life to this field, and in most cases, there is time to make some adjustments or to forge straight ahead. Additionally, you have the opportunity to really impress your supervisor with your skills. If you're a good match for the organization, you may land a future job offer. Some companies even consider an internship part of your training period, shortening the length of time before you are eligible for benefits once employed full-time with an organization. Additionally, you may make connections that open doors for other internships in a different area or with a different organization. Most of all, you gather "real world" experience you can take back to the classroom. What "tools" do I need to land an internship? The same tools you need to land a full-time job. ~ Well-written professional resume ~ Eye-catching cover letter ~ Examples of your capabilities ~ Strong interview skills ~ Knowledge of the organization How do I get started? ~ Get registered with Career Services. ~ Put your resume online. It takes about 10 minutes. Your resume will be uploaded in a database used to refer students directly to employers seeking candidates with your qualifications. ~ Check internship postings regularly. How do I get an internship? The Office of Career Services posts listings of available internships on its web page. Students are encouraged to attend on-campus information sessions and interview with employers recruiting for interns. Students are, however, also encouraged to approach any suitable organization, and apply for an internship. Students are responsible for contacting the employer and arranging an interview. Where can I look for an internship? In addition to searching Career Services website at www.fhsu.edu/career, try checking out: ~ Career/Internship Fairs ~ Internship Publications ~ Internet Sites ~ Talk to Professors, Advisors, Friends, and Family ~ Attend employer informational sessions, as well as visiting company websites ~ Attend on-campus information sessions and interview with employers recruiting for interns ~ Attend Career Services Career Fairs ~ Check the bulletin boards in your department for postings ~ Traditional Employment Sources (agencies, help-wanted ads, referrals) ~ Approach any suitable organization, and apply for an internship What is the difference between an internship and a career-related experience? There is actually no difference. Any position (paid or unpaid) that allows you to gain insight or "meaningful" experience in the field you ultimately want to work in, or think you want to work in, can be called an internship. Additionally, it's important to realize that you can become more knowledgeable in the field by working in related areas and not just in the exact area related to your major. What if the organization I want to work with has never had an intern? Help them understand. Can you explain what an internship is? Are you able to outline what you would be able to contribute to the organization through an internship? What are your strongest selling points? Employers without previous experience with internships may be intimidated by the term and may not understand how valuable they could be. If you believe you would be able to contribute to the organization and that you would have a meaningful internship at that location, convince them that you're just what the organization needs! What are the "outcomes" of an internship? At a minimum, you will gain some real practical business experience, even if you discover that the type of organization you interned with is not where you would actually like to work when you graduate. The "best" that can happen is that you will be offered a job! Many interns are offered jobs by the organizations in which they intern. This is a particularly satisfactory outcome for both parties, and usually points to a happy working relationship. How do I act once I've landed the internship? Like a sponge! Learn everything that you can. Learn the names of everyone you meet. Develop business cards to hand out. This is your opportunity to show the entire organization what you're capable of. Go above and beyond their expectations. If you like the organization, show them why they can't live without you! Most importantly, respect the fact that you've been selected for this position. Many others probably applied, but you were selected. 10 Reasons to do an Internship 1. Add to your knowledge and skills related to your discipline and/or anticipated career field. 2. Enhance your academic study by trying out in a "real world' context what you have learned in the classroom. 3. "Try on" a career without making a long term commitment. 4. Establish contacts in a field where you may be hunting after graduation. 5. Practice professional behavior and learn how organizations function. 6. Grain the work related experience that employers value and strengthen your candidacy for after graduation jobs. 7. Achieve personal growth and build confidence as you take on new challenges. 8. Experience integrating faith in the workplace. 9. Practice employment interviewing skills and going through the hiring process. 10. Experience being an independent learner. Top 10 Tips For Interns 1. Don't be afraid to talk with people. Don't be intimidated because you are a student. People are sometimes too busy to roll out the red carpet, so you have to make the first move to talk with co-workers and supervisors. 2. Ask for things to do. Don't wait to be told what to do. Solving problems and taking initiative are the best ways to stand out from the crowd. 3. Learn all you can about the industry. Talk with people in different departments as well as clients and vendors. 4. Read everything you get your hands on. You won't find everything you need to know in the training manual. Reading contracts, letters, memos, press releases, trade publications help you become informed on all elements of the business. 5. Don't gripe about the grunt work. There is always something more to learn. How long you do grunt work depends on what you make of it. Everything has a purpose, so learn how the small tasks fit into the big picture. 6. Milk the fact that you are a student. As a student you aren't threatening and can have more access and opportunities than a full time employee. Everyone wants to help a student learn. 7. Hitch your wagon to a star. Learn from the people who are the superstar performers and most respected individuals in the office. 8. Get in the information loop. Decisions aren't always made in a conference room. 9. Ask to attend meetings and events. You will learn how things really get done. 10. Don't burn any bridges. You never know when you will see someone later in your career.