Internship Basics


Internships are real-world work experiences in which students take on temporary roles in organizations in order to:

  1. apply academic knowledge to a work setting,
  2. solidify a career choice,
  3. develop professional contacts, and,
  4. gain experience in a field of interest to make you more marketable.

Completing an internship is the single best way to research and prepare for a career. The experience gained through an internship is invaluable in the current job market. A recent survey by NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) revealed that 79% of employers currently offer internships, 87% of new graduates with jobs have internship or internship-related experience on their resumes, and the average employer hires approximately 1/3 of their interns for full-time positions upon graduation.

ESF's Internship Program assists students with every stage of the internship process. From planning the preferred semester to pursue an internship, to researching internship options, to outlining the process, and how to make the most of an internship experience, you will find every piece of the internship puzzle here!

Use the links to the right to access the listing of currently available internships, and to find out everything you need to know about becoming an intern. If you have any questions, email or drop by 110 Bray.

Program Options

Currently there are two options for students to participate in ESF's Internship Program:

  • Paid with Academic Credit
    You may also undertake internships that carry academic credit along with a monetary stipend. The credit assigned to the internship can vary and is usually based on the commitments of the internship. Grades will be given on an A-F basis and the internship must be arranged with a faculty member.
  • Not Paid with Academic Credit
    Finally, you may undertake internships with no monetary stipends but receive academic credit. The amount of academic credit to be awarded for an internship is determined by the responsibilities required and the amount of time the student is to work at the site (can range from 1-12 credit hours). Grades will be given on an A-F basis and the internship must be arranged with a faculty member.

Types of Internship Assignments

Many definitions exist for the term "internship" and even more people use the terms "co-op" and "internships" interchangeably. For your convenience in navigating this process the following definitions have been provided:

Internship: Internships cover the broadest spectrum of experiential education and should include the following elements:

  • An internship is an academic or career-related work experience. It can be paid or non-paid, part-time or full-time and coincide with the Fall, Spring or Summer academic terms. 
  • The internship should carry an intellectual, supervised and educational component.
  • Guarantee a specific number of contact hours per unit of academic credit (e.g., typically 45 hours of total work per 1 unit of credit).
  • There should be a description of the intern's duties.
  • There should be a method for evaluating and supervising the intern.

Cooperative Education (Co-ops): Co-ops are a specific subset of experiential education.

  • Co-ops are usually six month full-time, paid positions that are an integral part of a company's overall recruiting efforts.
  • Work periods are typically from January through August or June through December and usually require the student to take a semester off from school.
  • Employers sometimes bring a co-op student back for a second work period before they graduate.
  • Successful co-op students are frequently offered permanent positions after they graduate.

Independent Study: Academic work chosen or designed by the student with the approval of the department(s) concerned, under an instructor's supervision. This work is usually undertaken outside of the regular classroom structure.

Volunteering: a person who voluntarily undertakes a task.

An Educational Experience, Not Just A Job

Even if academic credit is not granted for the successful completion of the internship, you should make an effort to view the internship as an educational experience and not just a job. Simply stated, this means that you will be asked to complete a short biography about the experience that can help guide others in their search for the perfect internship.

Internship Opportunities

Descriptions of internship opportunities currently available to students are accessible in 110 Bray Hall and online:

Monetary Stipends/Academic Credit

Many internships offer a monetary stipend. Because you may also be receiving academic credit, and because the internship is an educational rather than an employment experience, the college does not require that sponsors offer a stipend. Therefore, a stipend, academic credit, or both should be considered but not be the determining factor in your decision to pursue a specific opportunity.

How to Qualify

To qualify for an internship you must:

  1. Have Sophomore/Junior/senior status (rare opportunities for freshmen);
  2. Maintain good academic standing;
  3. Demonstrate appropriate preparation for the type of internship opportunity being sought;
  4. Arrange for an appropriate faculty member to approve and supervise the academic component of the internship;
  5. Participate in an orientation session prior to becoming an intern (often this is simply an individual meeting with a faculty supervisor) and agree in writing to fulfill the conditions of the particular internship assignment.

Duration of Internship

The period of each internship spans an academic semester (September-December and January-May). The exact dates for beginning and ending the internship, as well as the specific work schedule and time commitment, are to be agreed upon by the intern and the sponsoring organization.

Summer Assignments: The summer months offer the best opportunity for students to gain internship experience. Provision can be made for granting academic credit for summer assignments. However, organizations sometimes choose to combine the semester internship with summer employment to take advantage of the intern's enhanced knowledge and experience or to permit longer-term assignments.

Finding the Perfect Internship

Where To Find Internship Listings: In order to make informed choices, you will have to acquaint yourself with the wide (and changing) range of opportunities available to you. Complete listings of available opportunities (organized both geographically and by major) are maintained in hard copy form in 110 Bray Hall, as well as on this website. Moreover, the internship can provide you with additional information relating to particular internship opportunities, including comments from former interns.

Checking Back Regularly for New Internships: In addition to the substantial list of opportunities that are routinely available to prospective interns, new internships become available periodically. As a result, it is important that you check the website or the hard copy binders in 110 Bray frequently enough to ensure that you are aware of any new internship opportunities that become available.

Initial Contact of Sponsors: Once you have decided which internship opportunities you wish to pursue, it is your responsibility to contact those appropriate for pursuing the internship.

Sponsor Decisions and Student Interviews: In the end, of course, it is the sponsoring organization that decides to whom the offer of its internship is made. Organizations handle the selection process in different ways. Some will send a representative to campus to interview prospective interns, others will request telephone interviews with interested students and others will ask students to come to the site for an interview. Whatever the particular procedure you are required to follow, it is extremely important that students seeking internships stay in close contact with the faculty sponsor.

Internships Initiated By Students: The program faculty may also seek out additional internship opportunities each semester to accommodate special interests that students may have. Moreover, it is possible for students to take the initiative in identifying an appropriate opportunity, although all sponsors and assignments must be approved by the faculty sponsor. Students choosing to follow this route should seek guidance from a faculty member at an early stage in the procedure.


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