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What is an Internship?
Internships provide a way for you to get hands-on, supervised experience in the field you are studying. You are able to apply the concepts you are learning in the classroom to a work environment. It may be paid or unpaid, last at least one semester (concurrently with classes or independently) and - depending on the organization and time of year - you may work full or part time. You may also elect to receive academic credit for your internship, or do it for the experience alone. In addition, it’s a great way to find out if a particular career or work environment is a good fit for you. And don’t forget…it’s not all about what you know, but who you know (and who knows you!). An internship will open the door to your professional network and hopefully lead to a permanent position upon graduation!
Typically an internship:
- Takes place outside the classroom and in a place of business.
- Provides an opportunity for learning which is relevant to the academic field of the intern.
- Provides a field supervisor to direct the experience (ideally an expert in the area of the internship).
- Has resources, equipment and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning objectives/goals.
- Has the field supervisors evaluate the student prior to completion of the work experience.
How to Receive Academic Credit
Some GVSU majors/programs require students to complete an internship for academic credit, while others offer internships as an elective. Be sure to check with your academic department regarding these requirements and specific processes. If your academic department does not require that an internship be completed for credit, you can always complete an internship on your own. Although this is a less-expensive alternative (since you’re not paying for credits), we encourage students to consider receiving credit as it generally provides a more meaningful experience.
Most Majors Require:
- You have a declared major or minor within the department
- You have at least 60 credit hours
- You are in good academic standing (some departments also have a specific GPA requirement)
- You gain permission from the department (most internship classes require a permit to register)
Three simple steps to receive internship credit:
Secure the internship
Receive approval from academic department. You may need to submit an Internship Agreement Form or application
Register for your class (a permit may be required)
Receiving credit for an unpaid internship? Be sure to apply for our Career Center Internship Award! Ten scholarships are awarded every fall, winter, and spring/summer semester.
Important things to know
Depending on the program, you may or may not actually physically meet as a class; however, there will likely be assignments you’ll have to complete throughout the semester. Keep in contact with your faculty internship coordinator to ensure you are meeting all the appropriate deadlines.
If you are interning with a health related organization, you may be required to go through GVSU Health Compliance. Check with your faculty internship coordinator to see if your internship site qualifies for this.
F-1 or J- 1 International Students: You will need work authorization from USCIS for your internship. Please contact Kate Stoetzner at the Padnos International Center (616) 331 3898 or firstname.lastname@example.org for details prior to beginning the internship.
How to Find an Internship
- It’s okay if you don’t know exactly what you want to do in an internship. Think about the type of work you’d like to do, skills you’d like to develop, and industries you’d like to explore. Refer to our Explore and Careers and Majors page if you need some ideas.
- Organize your search. Keep track of organizations you’ve applied to, when, who you spoke with, and when you need to follow-up
- On average, 75% of internships are never posted, so identify companies/organizations you are interested in and contact them directly.
- Reach out to contacts and GVSU alumni through LinkedIn.
- Attend events. The Career Center brings hundreds of employers right to campus and these employers want to talk to you about opportunities.
Search and Apply
- While networking is the number one way students find internships, online tools can also be helpful
- Handshake is a great online tool for searching for internships
- Experience Matters is a helpful resource to search out other places GVSU students have interned.
- Work Abroad is a great resource if you’re interested in an international opportunity.
- Industry specific search sites can be found on our Pinterest Board.
- How to recognize and avoid fraudulent jobs
- It’s always important to follow-up; whether you’ve applied online for a position, sent an email inquiry to a contact, or met a recruiter at an event.
- Follow-ups can be done over email, phone, or LinkedIn
- Keep track of when you’ve followed up so you can be consistent, but not pestering. One to two follow-ups is a good rule of thumb.
Current Internship Postings in Handshake
RN New Graduate Nurse - 7 West General Surgery
for job 5077353
Social Media Intern (Unpaid)
for job 5076239
Stanford School of Medicine
Nutrition Fall Intern (Unpaid) at Stanford School of Medicine
for job 5076156
Stanford School of Medicine - School of Medicine
Making the Most of Your Internship Experience
Learn the culture
- Attend all orientations offered and read all available onboarding handbooks
- Observe everything…what people wear, how they interact with each other, where they eat, etc.
- When in doubt, ask questions if you are unsure of anything
Take your work seriously
- Always give 100%- no matter what the task.
- Keep your phone tucked away
- Ask for new projects. Supervisors may underestimate the amount of time it takes an intern to complete a project.
- Take initiative. It’s always good to look for things that need to be done.
- Get to know everyone- even those outside your department. This is a great way to learn more about the organization and possibly develop a mentor.
- Dress for the job you want. Just because your boss might wear shorts and t-shirts, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Be observant of what others wear, especially those in positions of leadership.
- Learn a new skill. Even if your internship isn’t exactly what you thought it might be, it’s important to know that you walked away learning something new.
- Ask for feedback. Hopefully your supervisor will conduct an evaluation at the end of your internship, but don’t be afraid to ask for ongoing feedback. This keeps the lines of communication open and ensures you’re meeting expectations.
- Stay connected after the internship. It’s great if an internship can turn into a permanent position, but that doesn’t always happen right away. Maintain relationships with those you worked with as they will likely keep you posted on upcoming openings, and may also serve as a reference for you.
Unfortunately, not all internships may go as planned, and that’s okay. Finding out something you don’t like can be just as helpful as identifying what you do like. Reach out to the Career Center if you have any questions or concerns regarding your internship experience.